I’ve been intrigued by spelt flour for a long while. So much buzz about its nutritious qualities and nutty taste! But for whatever reason, it always eluded me at the grocery store. It would catch my eye on the baking shelf, but I’d hesitate. Next time for sure, I would reassure it. But I always had an excuse. I already have three bags of flour at home. I should finish those first. Or, I need to bake banana bread for my co-workers. I don’t want to risk using an unfamiliar flour when I’m looking to dazzle them all with my sweet treat.
I needed a motive to break out of my comfort zone. So I schemed up a Flour Face-Off and named spelt flour one of the competitors. Brilliant! I finally baked with spelt. Whee!
So what’s up with this stuff anyway?
Spelt is an ancient cereal grain similar to wheat, but with a tougher husk. It was initially grown in the Fertile Crescent around 5000 to 6000 B.C. and was one of the first grains used to make bread. The Greek and Roman civilizations found a staple in the grain – for eating and for using as a gift to the gods to encourage harvest and fertility. Spelt eventually migrated to Europe about 300 years ago and finally made its way to North America around the turn of the 20th century. It soon faded from notice in favor of easier-to-process wheat, but it’s now making a come back!
Spelt flour’s popularity has grown in recent years for a bazillion reasons. Ok, I exaggerate, but it’s still pretty awesome. It has a somewhat nuttier and sweeter flavor than wheat flours. Plus, it packs a nutrient-rich punch. Spelt flour has between 10 and 25 percent more protein than wheat. And its protein is generally easier to digest – which can possibly be helpful to those with wheat allergies. It’s also chock full of good stuff like fiber and B vitamins.
I used Arrowhead Mills spelt flour. And I’m no certified spelt expert yet, but from what I’ve read, you can substitute spelt flour one-for-one with regular wheat flour. But there are a couple things to note. Spelt flour has what they call a “fragile” gluten content, so it’s important to not overmix your batter. And you might need to reduce the liquid in your recipe just a tad. Seems you have to play around a bit depending on what you’re making – that just means more experimenting! I think it could make some killer cookies. Yum!
Have you ever baked with spelt flour? What’s your favorite recipe that uses it?