Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ancient Grain Honey Spelt Bread

Ancient Rome was as confident of the immutability of its world and the continual expansion and improvement of the human lot as we are today. – Arthur Erickson

Excellent sandwich loaf. Excellent anything loaf.

It’s a wonderful thing to have fresh bread on a regular basis. It makes sandwiches, breakfast or dinners just that much more special.

This was the dough 9pm.
It’s not all that difficult to pull off if you use the “overnight” technique that I do. It almost entirely eliminates kneading, and your bread is out of the oven in the morning before you’re even fully awake.

Now it’s pretty easy to make interesting bread too, thanks to bulk food stores like our local Bulk Barn. Not that long ago to buy specialty “ancient” grains you had to purchase expensive packets at health food stores. Now you can just drop by and purchase exactly the amount you need.

Spelt is one that is widely available now. Spelt is an ancient grain that has a nut-like flavour and a dark(ish) colour. It is a cousin of wheat and traces its heritage back 6,000 years, well before our common wheat hybrids.

Benefits of spelt
This was the dough 6am.
Much of the health benefits associated with spelt are due to the broad spectrum of nutrients that have been bred out of modern wheat. Interestingly, spelt doesn’t seem to cause as much in the way of sensitivity as modern wheat.

It’s mostly due to the type of gluten in spelt – it’s water soluble, degraded by heat and is easily broken down by mixing. Wheat gluten does not break down in water and only relaxes when exposed to heat and seems to get stronger as it is mixed. Bakers refer to kneading as “developing the gluten.”

Since the gluten is water soluble it make the grain more easy to digest and therefore the nutrients in wheat more available to the body. That’s not the only difference. Spelt is high in protein (much higher than wheat), higher in B complex vitamins, and is high in both simple and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates aid in blod clotting and help boost the body’s immune system.

Generously grease that pan.
But for best results...
Now this difference in gluten does have a drawback for those of us who love our fluffy bread. All spelt makes for a lower rise bread. So in my recipe I did a 50/50 with unbleached white wheat.

At least it’s not all white. This bread actually surprised me. The colour is somewhere between a brown bread and white, even though no colouring (other than the spelt) was used.

This made for an amazing looking loaf. Don’t worry if the crust seems very hard after baking. It will soften up as the bread cools, if you can wait that long.

The taste is quite amazing, too. It is fantastic warm with butter, and made one dandy Westphalian ham and Swiss cheese sandwich for lunch. Mmmm.

It will rise in 1 hour to fill the pan.
Honey Spelt Bread
Prep: Overnight + 1 hour  |  Bake: 30 min  |  Yield 1 loaf
1-1/2 cups spelt flour
1-1/2 cups unbleached white flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
3 tsp yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and beat with a spoon for about 2 minutes. The mixture will be very, very wet and sticky. Make sure that all the flour is incorporated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Let rise overnight.

In the morning, pour the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Lightly flour your hands and knead for about 2 minutes. The dough will still be sticky.

Generously butter a 5” x 9” bread pan. Place the dough in the pan and let rise for 1 hour. Don't worry if it looks like only a little dough. It will fill the pan on second rise.

Preheat the oven to 450°F, with a pan of water in the bottom to hydrate the oven.

Bake the loaf for 30 minutes, removing the pan of water after the first 10 minutes.

Let cool on a rack. The crust will soften as it cools.


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1 comment:

  1. Many use Spelt flour (an early grass flour - now categorized as wheat by government), an ancient grain before GMO and additives were added to wheat, to avoid current varieties of wheat flour.

    Instead of adding wheat flour, you can add white Spelt flour that has had the bran and germ removed. and get more rise to your bread.

    Read Wheat Belly (the book) and learn why many avoid wheat now.

    If you do not have celiac disease or are going gluten free, you can purchase a box or bag of gluten and add a tablespoon of it to your spelt, and will get more rise also.

    Recently we purchased spelt bread from earthfare. Nutty, high rise and wonderful. It was made with white spelt and whole organic wheat - no sugar.

    Just some thoughts - I like your recipe as a starting point to make my own...