Perfect Spelt Bread
Spelt also known as Dinkel Wheat or Hulled Wheat is a species of wheat cultivated since approximately 5000 BC. Spelt is highly nutritious and low in fat and, I think, very tasty.It may take some time to prepare but baking your own bread is absolutely worth the effort.
Cost: 1,50Euro, 2US$
- 450 g strong Spelt flour
- 10 grams dried yeast can be substituted with 15-20 grams fresh yeast
- 1-2 tsp salt a little salt does make the bread tastier but 'little' is subjective therefore add what you think is best. Salt also tends to kill yeast so be careful not to add too much or the bread won't rise as you'd like.
- 1 tsp brown sugar cane sugar or even honey are perfect substitutes. the sugar is used to kick start the yeast.
- 300 ml warm water I am talking tap water here. Boil the water first then let it cool to about 26°C/79°F. The reason for boiling is to remove any chlorine used by water companies to make the water safe for drinking. Chlorine kills yeast. Alternatively use warm mineral water.
- 50 g butter unsalted
- Add the yeast and sugar into a bowl. Add 300ml water and stir. Leave to rest for 5 minutes for the yeast to activate.
- Add the flour and the salt to a large bowl and mix well. I always use a whisk to do this when the flour is still dry.
- Add the butter to the bowl of water and yeast, stir and poor into the bowl with flour. Mix using the handle of a (wooden) spoon. I always use a chop stick. The reason is use a utensil with as little surface area as possible so that there is not too much dough sticking to whatever it is you're using. By doing this for a minute or so you should have a soft, slightly sticky dough: if not, add a little more water. If too 'slushy' ad some more flour. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
- After the dough has rested for about 10 minutes remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a work surface, lightly dusted with (white) flour. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes till the dough has become soft and ‘rubbery’ and, importantly, stops sticking to your fingers. If the dough is too wet keep adding small amounts of flour till you get the right consistency. If too dry add splashes of water. The longer you knead and fold the dough the more gluten will form. Spelt naturally contains gluten and hence makes it suitable for baking without the need to add (strong) white flour.Gluten is, what I say, the ‘muscle’ of the bread and allows the dough to rise and for the bread hold its shape and to become soft inside.
- Once you’re happy with the consistency of the dough you can place it into a baking tin greased with butter. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and leave to rest in a warm place for up to an hour or until the dough has risen to about double its size.
- Tip: Before covering the bread you could, if you like, sprinkle flour or any type of seeds on top. I recommend sunflower or pumpkin seeds or, as I did with the bread you see in the picture, flax seeds. This will give the bread a nicer appearance once it’s baked.
- Pre-heat the oven to 230°C/445°F. Bake the bread at this temperature for 10 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 200°C/390°F and bake for a further 20-25 minutes. You want the crust to be a deep brown and when tapped the loaf should sound hollow (not dull). This way you know it has been baked right through.
- Turn out onto a rack to cool and wait at least half an hour till cutting your first slice.
This bread is healthy and very tasty and can be used for sandwiches and, as we like to do in the Balkans, use it for dipping into our soups. Enjoy!