This ancient grain is a hardier, trendier and more nutritious cousin to modern wheat. It’s also an incredibly versatile ingredient for the creative baker. Here are five easy ways to incorporate it into your menu.
Spelt Apple Tart
Image and recipe by Little Upside Down Cake
There’s a knack to producing wonderfully flaky spelt crust. A hand-kneading technique called ‘frisage’ almost guarantees it, although some trial runs won’t go astray for those unfamiliar with using spelt.
Start with a pie dough, but instead of rolling it out create strings of butter and dough by smearing the dough with the heel of your hand. Follow this with the old-fashioned, ‘slap and fold’ kneading method.
• 300g spelt flour
• 2tbs coconut sugar
• 1ts salt
• 175g soy margarine (or butter), chilled and cut into cubes
• 3-4tbs cold water
• 120g coconut sugar (or cane sugar)
• 3tbs spelt flour (or wheat flour)
• 1ts ground cinnamon
• ½ts ground cardamom
• ½ts ground ginger
• ¼ts salt
• 1kg apples, peeled and cut into slices
• juice of 1 lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
2. Mix the flour, sugar, margarine and salt until you get fine crumbs. Slowly add water until you get a fine dough. Wrap with plastic foil and leave for minimum 30 minutes in the fridge
3. Mix apple slices with lemon juice. In a separate bowl mix flour, sugar, spices and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients to the apples.
4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll with a rolling pin until 3mm thick.
5. Line the tart with the dough but do not trim the edges yet.
6. Stir apple mixture into the tart shell. Trim the excess dough. Roll the excess dough with a rolling pin until 3mm thick and cut circles. Glue circles with the edge of tart. Brush with egg and sprinkle with some extra sugar.
7. Bake in the hot oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Triple Dark Chocolate Wholegrain Brownies
The three types of chocolate – melted chocolate, cocoa powder and whole chocolate chips – provide a depth of layer in this recipe’s flavour, which a touch of espresso and vanilla only enhances.
Adding brown sugar helps to create a chewy texture, while granulated sugar produces an unmatched crackly top. And, the spelt flour adds nutrients and fibre without compromising any of the taste.
Recipe adapted from Fork Knife Swoon.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Makes 16 brownies
• ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• ¼ cup boiling water
• ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
• 30ml unsweetened chocolate
(100 per cent cacao), finely chopped
• 1-½ tsp instant espresso powder
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• 1-½ tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1-¼ cups granulated sugar
• ¼ cup light brown sugar
• 2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
• ¾ cups wholegrain spelt flour
• ½ tsp sea salt
• 1/3 cup bittersweet or semi-sweet
1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC. Line an 20x20cm metal or oven-proof glass pan with parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overlap on each side. Butter the parchment paper and two remaining sides of the pan, and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add the boiling water to the cocoa powder, and whisk until smooth and completely combined. Set aside.
3. Place the butter, chopped chocolate, and espresso powder in a heat-proof mixing bowl. Using a microwave or a double-boiler, melt the mixture together. If using a microwave, check and stir the mixture every 15 seconds or so until melted together.
4. Add the melted butter/chocolate mixture to the cocoa mixture, and whisk to combine. Add the vegetable oil and vanilla extract and continue whisking. Add both sugars and whisk until smooth.
5. Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, whisking thoroughly between each, until the chocolate mixture is completely smooth and creamy. Using a spatula, gently fold in the flour and salt. Stir until combined, but be careful not to over-mix.
6. Fold in the chocolate chips, then pour into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top with a spatula.
7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a cake-tester inserted into the middle of the brownies comes out with few crumbs attached. Cool on a baking rack for at least an hour before removing from the pan or cutting into bars, waiting longer if possible.
Sprouted Spelt Banana Bread
Recipe adapted from One Degree Organics
This sprouted spelt banana bread is a perfect recipe to whip up at a moment’s notice. It’s simple, healthy and, unlike banana breads, it has a subtle flavour and a very light texure.
But what’s the importance of the flour being sprouted? Firstly, it’s an on-trend term that simply denotes flour that has been milled from grain that has sprouted. Grains are seeds. So, sprouting means the grain has been changed from a seed into a living plant. This happens by allowing the grain to soak in water long enough to wake it from its sleepy dormancy…and the process of germination is set in motion.
More importantly, when a grain changes from a seed into a living plant, its nutritional qualities evolve. The body’s ability to digest it and absorb its nutrients improves. The stored up nutrients held in the seed burst forth to feed and give life to the sprout. For the consumer, this means the wealth of nutrients now inherent in this living sprout are readily bio-available. In a nut-shell, it’s good for you!
• 1¾ cup sprouted spelt flour
• ½ cup coconut palm sugar
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
• 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
• ½ cup almond milk
• 2 large bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• ½ cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 175ºC. Lightly grease a loaf pan and set aside.
2.Whisk together sprouted spelt flour, coconut palm sugar, salt, and baking powder. Set aside
3.In a separate bowl whisk together coconut oil, mashed bananas, vanilla and almond milk.
4. Gently stir together the dry and wet mixtures. Fold in the chopped walnuts. Add more almond milk if batter is too dry.
5.Bake for 30-45 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Baking time varies on your oven and the size of the loaf.
6.Let cool before removing from the pan.
Spelt and Cider Bread
Image by JonoandJules. Recipe adapted from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries II. Makes one medium-sized loaf
Cider gives bread an acidic hit you might expect from a sourdough, but in a fraction of the time. Because the structure of spelt flour is different from other wheat, this dough requires slightly less handling than usual, and care needs to be taken not to let it rise for too long, otherwise it will grow fragile and collapse before it even reaches the oven.
The texture and flavour balance makes for a fantastic bread that keeps well. And, as far as accompaniments go, there is no better way to serve this than with a few slices of cheddar, strong chutney and, of course, a glass of crisp, cold cider.
• 250g wholemeal spelt flour
• 250g strong white bread flour
• 1 heaped tsp sea salt
• 150ml full-cream milk
• 1 tsp honey
• 35g fresh yeast
• 250ml dry cider
1. Warm a large mixing bowl.
2. Weight the flours into the warmed bowl and stir in the salt.
3. Warm the milk in a small saucepan until hot, but not boiling. Dissolve the honey in the milk.
4. Cream the yeast with a teaspoon in a small bowl and slowly pour in the warm milk and honey. When it is smooth, pour onto the flours along with the cider and mix well with your hands. When the dough has formed a rough ball, tip out onto a lightly oiled or floured surface. Knead gently for one minute.
5. Lightly flour the bowl you mixed the dough in and put the kneaded dough in it. Cover with a clean, warm cloth and leave in a warm, draught-free place for an hour.
6. Remove the dough and knead gently for a minute. Return to the bowl, cover and return to the warm place for another 25-30 minutes, or until risen again.
7. Set the oven to 240ºC.
8. Knead the dough again, this time forming it into a ball, then put it onto a floured baking tray and dust generously with flour. Cover with a cloth and keep warm for another 15-20 minutes.
9. Bake the dough in the oven for 25 minutes. When it looks brown and crispy, remove it from the oven, turn upside down and tap the bottom. If it is cooked it will sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack.
Buttermilk, Pumpkin and Cacao Nib Loaves
Makes 12 muffins or three small loaves
Recipe adapted from Finger Fork Knife. Image (insert) by Finger Fork Knife
“Relatively healthy, these little loaves are naturally sweetened with mashed roasted pumpkin and applesauce, and are gifted with warmth and earthiness from a mixture of cinnamon and clove,” Finger Fork Knife’s baker Kate Olsson says.
Topped with a simple cream cheese and orange icing and a scattering of toasted hazelnuts, these are perfect everyday menu boosters.
• 1 cup spelt flour
• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• ½ cup loosely packed brown sugar
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• ¼ tsp ground clove
• 2 tsp baking powder
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 2 organic free-range eggs
• ½ cup mashed, cooked pumpkin
• ½ cup buttermilk
• 1 tsp blossom water
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
• ½ cup mixed nuts and seeds – I used walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and pumpkin kernels
• ½ cup cacao nibs
For the orange cream cheese icing:
• ½ cup cream cheese
• 1 orange, zested and juiced
• 2 tbsp. raw honey
1. Preheat oven to 160°C
2. Prepare a small loaf tin or muffin tray by lightly greasing the sides – or lining with paper cups.
3. In a bowl, beat eggs well, add pumpkin, olive oil, buttermilk, blossom water, sugar, and applesauce. Mix well.
4. Into the wet mixture, sift in the flours and baking powder. Mix in the cinnamon, clove, and salt. Mix well.
5. Stir in the nuts, seeds, and cacao nibs.
6. Pop into the oven and back for 20-25 minutes, until risen and a cooked through.
7. For the icing, combine all ingredients and mix well until smooth – this can also be done in a food processor.
8. Top with roasted hazelnuts.