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Baking Bread from Sourdough and Spelt Flour

Spelt is a remarkable grain.I've baked bread with it previously and since I  got my hands on over a kilogram of it yesterday  I baked  some sourdough bread from it tonight (pictured above).

Maybe I rushed my proving because I was pushed for time, but the results are scrumptious with a strong sour taste off setting Spelt's nutty, almost Moorish, flavours. It looks like I  may have to shift to Spelt in a big way so long as I can get a cheap source of regular supply.

We've made a major shift here at home and while I bake bread every two days, that means we eat all of what I bake -- down to the last crumb -- in forty eight hours. So here bread is indeed the stuff of life -- breakfast, lunch and tea; toasted or sandwiched. Three loaves in two days regular as clock work.

The problem  now being that it is very hard to go back to eating other breads which I find flavourless, lacking any noticeable texture and often just seem like packaging or wrapping for the stuff that's laid on top.

So my new quest is to make the most of a marriage between sourdough and Spelt. This means that I have to learn the willy ways of Spelt -- a very different flour than what comes from wheat. And because its still a rare flour (see below), Spelt is at least twice the price of wheat per kilogram.So maybe wheat/spelt mix is the way to go?

I've included some notes on Spelt below -- taken from Basic Ingredients who used to have a warehouse just across the railway tracks from me here in Northgate where I could get all manner of flours and bread making stuff.-- including Spelt Flour. But a year ago they moved.

The history and origins of spelt are somewhat confused and complex. There is evidence that Spelt was cultivated by ancient civilizations both in Europe and the Middle East thousands of years ago. It is mentioned in the Old Testament and in various Roman texts. Carbonated grains of spelt have been found throughout Europe including Britain, in many Stone Age excavations. Its popularity remained widespread, especially in Eastern Europe, until the end of the 19th century. German records of one region, dated 1850, showed that 94 percent of the cereal acreage was producing spelt and only 5 percent producing bread wheat.

The rapid fall from favour of spelt was mirrored by rapid developments in modern farming. Once combined harvesters were introduced which could harvest common bread wheat in a single process it would have no longer been so attractive for farmers to continue to grow spelt. This is because each individual grain of spelt, unlike common wheat, is covered by a tough outer husk which requires removal in a further process before the grain can be milled into flour.

Fortunately spelt was not entirely lost to mankind and in the mid 1980's it was rediscovered in Europe and has undergone a major resurgence in many parts of the world ever since. However for this to happen, special machinary which could dehull individual spelt grains in commercial quantities needed to be introduced into the chain of production for making flour. By this stage it was realised by those taking the lead in this renaissance that the time and cost of having to do this was outweighed by the advantages to both farmers and consumers of resurrecting this ancient grain.
Spelt in Australia

The Australian spelt story started in 1988 after a farming couple from NSW heard about the revival of the spelt crop in Europe. The idea of growing spelt in Australia interested them so they obtained seeds from a European seed bank. The spelt turned out to be relatively easy to grow here and after four years of harvesting with a pair of scissors they were able to build up a seed stock. Eventually their crop became a commercial reality when, after building their own special machine for dehulling the grain, they began milling it into flour for sale to wholesalers and bakers.

Environmental Benefits of Growing Spelt

Spelt is a relatively low yielding crop so doesn't take as much from the soil as more modern crops. It is therefore a more sustainable crop on a long term basis. Being low yielding it also thrives without the application of fertilisers even on relatively poor soils. Spelt is also very resistant to frosts and other extreme weather conditions and the grain's exceptionally thick husk protects it from pollutants and insects during its growth and storage, prior to milling.

As spelt is a pure, original grain and not biologically modified in any way it is very resistant to the crop diseases that often plague modern crop varieties and grows quite successfully without the application of herbicides, pesticides or fungicides.

Harvested Spelt is stored with the husk intact so it remains fresher over a much longer period than other grains. It has been claimed that spelt's hull is so strong that it can protect the grain from virtually every type of pollutant.


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