Wednesday, 4 April 2018
a word about spelt
Thank you for your interest and comments on my previous post.
There have been quite few questions about spelt, so I decided to dedicate this post to SPELT.
I have this wonderful book by Roger Saul (the founder of Mulberry, the fashion brand), who lives in Somerset, and some of the info I am going to write, comes from the book.
Spelt is probably the oldest grain known to a man, and it has been grown for around 4,000 years. Carbonised grains of spelt had been found during an excavation around Glastonbury, just "down the road" from me.
Later it became to be also known as Roman army's marching grain .
It used to be grown around Europe, and it "emigrated" to America with early settlers. In French spelt is l'epeautre, in Italian farro, and German dinkel.
Eventually spelt went out of fashion, and wheat took over, mainly because it has much higher yield, and also it looses its husk during harvesting. Spelt husk is much harder to remove.
Roger Saul tells story how he started to grow spelt on his Sharpham Park Farm near Glastonbury, about 13 -14 years ago, and the motivation behind it, which you can also read on their website (if you follow the link). There was nobody else at that time growing spelt in UK.
In 2007 they opened their own mill, the only one in the world milling solely stone-ground organic spelt.
So why spelt?
Spelt is truly wholegrain; it is rich in vitamins and minerals, and spelt bread contains almost 50% more protein than wheat based bread; basically - it is good for you.
It is lower in gluten than wheat (but not gluten free), so easier on our digestive system too.
Probably because I live in Somerset, I have know about spelt for quite a few years now, and have been using it in my cooking.
Spelt flour, because of its low gluten, is very good for making pastry and cakes;
it is now my "every day" flour. It has slightly nuttier flavour than wheat.
Long before spelt was generally available in shops, I would buy it in Sharpham shop at Kilver Court, here in Shepton (formerly headquarters of Mulberry, now a shopping centre).
I have made bread with spelt only; the first experience wasn't good - my fault, I did not read the introduction properly. Because of the lower gluten, spelt bread needs to be supported during baking - needs to be baked in a tin. I made a round loaf on a baking tray - it ended up rather flat. Also, I found the dough more difficult to handle than wheat dough, but that comes with practice.
I make most of the bread we eat, and I like to experiment with various flours and combinations. I have found that a mix of rye, spelt and strong wheat flour works very well for me, it makes a very good loaf.
But that is a matter of preference.
I have this wonderful book by Signe Johansen, I have made many cakes from it.
Many recipes here give you the option to use spelt instead of wheat flour.
I am not suggesting that you rush out and buy the book, it is just to illustrate that the two are interchangeable, so don't be afraid to try it. The only thing you might find different is that you might need to add little more liquid to whatever you are making, than you would normally.
Recently I made a wonderful carrot cake from a recipe in this book, using spelt flour - see my post 16th March. It is the only carrot cake recipe I use now.
The flour comes in white and wholegrain.
Besides the flour, I also use Pearled Spelt. I use it for making risotto or in soups; you can also cook it and use in salads - it has lovely nutty
They also make flakes (which I have not tried yet) and muesli. I make my own muesli, so I might try the flakes in the next batch.