My parents recently came back from a trip to the Netherlands, and while they were out there my Dad got addicted to a Spelt Bread that they served at the hotel where they way staying. After they got back, they asked me if I could have a go at making it. For all my years baking (and eating) I had never baked, or even tried, Spelt Bread. But never being one to shy away from a baking challenge, I gave it a try and for a first attempt it came out lovely!
Spelt flour is a little different from your regular flour, as Spelt, while in the wheat family, is not actually the same thing as wheat. It’s been used for many centuries, some say even back to the Bronze Age, and well before Wheat flour became a stable of bread making. Spelt has a nuttier, sweeter flavour to wheat, and has a harder outer shell to it, which obviously disappears when milled into flour.
Spelt does contain gluten but it’s a weaker gluten than wheat and breaks down quite easily and has to be manipulated gently, as opposed to wheat flour which needs a considerable amount of kneading to strengthen. From the research I did (thanks Google) if you overmix the splelt flour it will develop a crumbly texture which won’t be overly pleasant. However, get it right and your Spelt loaf will have a wonderfully light, soft texture. As it’s naturally nuttier and sweeter than wheat flour, spelt loaf works wonderfully when made with a couple of tablespoons of honey, which is what I’ve done here.
Spelt LoafPrint Recipe
- 500g Spelt Flour
- 10g Fast Action Dried Yeast
- 10g Salt
- 2tbsp Honey
- 350ml Warm Water
- Handful of rolled oats
Add the 2 tablespoons of honey to the 350ml of warm water and add the yeast to this and gently mix it until it's combined and leave for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate and it has a foam like the head of a beer. (While with the fast action yeast we do not normally need to activate it first, as we're combining the honey with the water to start with, it makes sense to add the yeast to give it a head start.)
Add the spelt flour and salt to a mixing bowl, or a stand mixer, and then gradually pour in the honey/yeast/water mixture and mix it until it's well combined into a soft, sticky mixture. If you're using a stand mixer, make sure that it's on the lowest setting possible so that you don't overwork the dough.
Once the dough is combined if you're using a stand mixer, leave it on the lowest setting to leave it to gently knead the dough for around 5 to 10 minutes. But if you're working by hand, then very lightly flour a work surface and gently knead the dough by slowly folding it in on itself, rather than the using technique of stretching and then folding. This will make sure to not overwork the dough and destroy the gluten. Do this for about 5 or 10 minutes. You'll still have a slightly sticky dough, but it should be a bit easier to handle. Place in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to prove in a warm area for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Take a 900g (2lb) loaf tin, and oil the tin and dust the inside with flour to prevent sticking. Take the dough and gently knock the air out of it and transfer into the loaf tin, sprinkle over the rolled oats onto the top of the loaf and then lightly cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove again for another 45 minutes.
Towards the end of the proving time, preheat an oven to 200°C (180°C Fan)/400°F/Gas Mark 6, then place in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 30 minutes or until the loaf is lovely and brown and hollow sounding. Leave to cool on a wire rack.