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Monday, April 25, 2011

Recipe: No-knead spelt (50%)

By Chris Siciliano

Of the several interesting types of bread grain Siciliano's now carries, the one that currently excites me most is our organic spelt. Thanks to its relative friendliness to people sensitive (not intolerant) to gluten, this 8,000-year-old precursor to modern wheat is today a common alternative to regular white flour. However, deserving of more than just the "alternative" label, spelt can be a worthwhile, tasty addition to your regular cache of every-day ingredients.

Whoever spelt it, dealt it.

In Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes, Jeffrey Hamelman (who is to baking what John Palmer is to brewing) has this to say about spelt:
It has attributes similar to regular wheat in bread baking, such as a high protein level and sufficient gluten to produce breads with reasonable volume. It is nutritionally similar if not superior to wheat. Another important benefit of spelt is that it can be tolerated by people with certain wheat allergies.
Aside from the health benefits, we're finding that bread made from spelt has excellent flavor, a little nuttier maybe, a little sweeter than traditional all-wheat bread. The recipe below--equal parts fresh-milled spelt and natural white flour--produces both a crumb and texture comparable to that of similar all-wheat formulas. This is a hearty, healthy, feel-good-about-yourself kind of bread, good for toast and sandwiches of all kinds. (Please see this post here for a discussion and directions on using the no-knead method of bread baking.)

Formula

  • 227 grams (8oz) "natural premium" white flour (or any good, non-bleached white flour)
  • 227 grams (8oz) fresh-milled organic spelt berries (grind medium-fine to course; you should see bran flecks in the flour, and the flour should feel slightly gritty)
  • 312 grams (11oz) water
  • 10 grams (1.5 tsp) salt
  • 1 gram (1/4 tsp) Saf-instant yeast
Notes & Tips

  • Several sources suggest cutting back on water when using spelt flour. Hence the recipe above calls for only 11 ounces of H20 and not the usual 12. Apparently spelt hydrates faster and more thoroughly than regular wheat flour. Though I don't yet have enough experience with spelt to verify this, I can attest to the quality of dough this particularly recipe makes, regardless of the difference in overall hydration.
  • If you've got designs on baking this recipe for a gluten-sensitive loved one, keep in mind that using one-half pound of wheat flour will likely negate the gluten-friendly benefits spelt otherwise has to offer.
  • The last time I made this recipe, I doubled it and used half the dough to make pitas. This was a good decision. Pitas made from this recipe are chewy and incredibly flavorful, as perfect a compliment to sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms, and feta (for dinner) as they are to peanut butter and bananas (breakfast). Recipe coming soon!
As always, if you have have tips, comments, questions, or concerns, please send them our way. Happy baking (and eating) everyone!

Spelt close-up

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