Now, you may know that I grind all of the flour for my baking fresh. The reason for this is probably worthy of a post in itself, but basically when you're eating whole grain flour it tastes better fresh, has better nutritional value and when you're mad enough to grow your own meat and milk, and attempt to grow your own veggies - why not grind your own flour too?
Before you conjure up a romantic picture of an old European mill, or me lovingly grinding every drop of flour by hand, you should probably know that our grain grinder is a small domestic model, which my Dad being clever at those things modified and made sure it went to the right place to have a little motor put on it. And it lives in the laundry, squished next to the dryer and food dehydrator and usually with a mound of washing I have to step over to get to it. And recently it's started to squeak horribly half way through grinding....
Ok, so now we've got that cleared up, let's move on to the subject this post is actually supposed to be about.
The reason I choose spelt for my baking is solely down to taste and performance. When the home-ground flour journey began, we purchased bags of organic wheat and organic spelt in bulk and generally used a 50/50 blend of both. For a while there I thought that I preferred baking with whole wheat as opposed to whole spelt. The freshly ground, whole spelt was a boring brown colour compared to the slightly more golden wheat, and to top it off spelt seemed to specialise in producing crumbly pastries and breads. That's before I figured out that spelt doesn't like to be kneaded as much as whole wheat, and that if you use the right recipes spelt actually makes the most delicious pastries and breads. And it makes the tastiest pancakes and butterfly cakes, and they come out beautifully light and fluffy.
We slowly switched over to ordering more bags of spelt than wheat in our co-op orders, and it was only recently that I discovered an unused bag of wheat grain still waiting to be turned into flour. There was a whole 12.5kg of it (which given my love of baking bread I use faster than you probably would imagine). I decided to use it up before opening another bag of spelt.
I've just finished that bag off, and today baked a loaf of 100% whole spelt sourdough. And when I took my first bite today I realised that I have become a spelt convert. I don't think I'll be ordering wheat again. It's spelt all the way from here.
- whole spelt sourdough has a far more complex and satisfying flavour than whole wheat sourdough
- the loaf's crumb is moister, and chewier, which is odd as I was finding my whole wheat sourdough loaves needed more water added
- I prefer the colour. I never thought I'd say it, but I do prefer that peasantish, rustic looking brown to the slightly golden-but-not-really-golden yellow look of whole wheat
If you're baking yeasted bread, I suggest you either mix it by hand or choose a short knead cycle on your bread machine. And make sure the dough is slightly sticky - it's the key.
I know it's my eBook, but if you are interested in baking spelt sourdough (whole or otherwise) then I really do suggest you buy it....because I've been there with the crumbly, dense, ugly loaves and I don't want you to have to go there too....or if you're already there then this eBook will pull you from your troubles (providing you follow the instructions of course).
I've never ventured into the world of fancy pastries. A basic sweet or savoury shortcrust is all I've ever been called on to create, and made on spelt it is delicious and usually beautifully "short". I either use the pie crust recipe from My Petite Kitchen book, or I choose a regular white flour recipe titled rich shortcrust - these usually have a higher butter content in them.
Use your normal recipe, providing it includes at least two eggs (for a two-cup batter) and you whisk them well - the results will be delicious, I promise. Four eggs well whisked is even better.
Do you have any advice on baking with spelt flours?
Do you have a preference, I wonder?
Leave a comment and let me know!
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