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My idea of good food is wholesome ingredients prepared so they retain their identity – simple stuff. It’s a good thing that I feel this way, because I’m not much of a cook! Once I decided to bake bread regularly, it took me ten years of cautious little experiments, but I finally got a basic whole-wheat bread recipe that would turn out halfway consistently for me – and right after that, I started the Blood Type Diet. No more wheat!
But I discovered that I have two wheat-like options: Spelt is OK for everyone except O non-secretors, and Kamut is OK for all A’s and all O’s. (To find out which foods are OK for your type, just click the TYPEbase button at the left side of this site’s home page.) I’ve been using mostly spelt, because it’s easier for me to find around here than Kamut, and also cheaper.
For my first batch of whole-spelt bread, I used my whole-wheat bread recipe without any changes except for the type of flour. I was in a hurry, so I didn’t take time to knead the dough properly, but the bread turned out surprisingly well for a first attempt.
The next time, I was determined to do things right. The dough had been a little sticky before, so I used a bit less water this time. The bread had tasted a little flat, so I upped the salt. And I took my time kneading. I figured this batch would be perfect. Well, it did taste better, thanks to the extra salt. But it didn’t rise worth anything.
I did some Internet reading, and found that spelt’s gluten is different from wheat’s – it doesn’t take kindly to kneading! That’s why my first batch had risen so much better than my second. And spelt dough doesn’t want to rise as long before baking as wheat dough needs to. I assume that this is why some people describe spelt dough as “temperamental,” but it seems to me that it merely takes less work than wheat – the perfect dough for a dabbler!
After ten months, I feel well enough acquainted with spelt to share my recipe with you. (Just be aware that this makes a fairly substantial loaf, not lightweight “grocery-store” bread.)
Basic Whole-Spelt Bread
(makes 1 loaf)
1 1/2 cups (355 ml) water
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) blackstrap molasses
2 teaspoons (10 ml) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
20 ounces (565 grams) whole-spelt flour (about 4 3/4 cups / 1.1 liters)
Grease or oil a loaf pan, approximately 4” by 8” (10 by 20 cm), measured inside the top (see Notes 1 and 2, below).
Heat the water to lukewarm, around 100 degrees F or 35-40 degrees C (see Note 3, below). Pour about half into a separate container and whisk in the molasses and yeast. Dissolve the salt in the other half.
Put the flour in a large, shallow bowl. When the yeast water has at least half an inch (1 cm) of foam on top, pour it and the salt water into the flour. Squeeze the mixture through your fingers until everything is thoroughly combined (see Note 4, below).
Shape the dough into a loaf (or just pat it into the pan). Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C). Let the loaf rise (see Note 5, below) until the very top is about an inch (2 or 3 cm) higher than the edge of the pan (see note 6, below). Bake for 70 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and cool on a rack. Store in a plastic bag or in a bread box (see Note 7, below).
1. If all you have is a 5” by 9” (13 by 23 cm) loaf pan, you can use it, but your loaf won’t rise as high. My pans are actually 4 1/2” by 8 1/2” (about 11 by 22 cm), and they work just fine.
2. I oil my pans with a mixture of olive oil and lecithin, and the baked loaves just fall right out. I put about half a cup (120 ml) of oil in the blender and add a little lecithin, either powdered or liquid. (I’m still trying to determine just how little to use. A tablespoons (15 ml) is more than is necessary, but that won’t hurt anything.) I store the mixture in a covered jar on the pantry shelf.
3. To help the dough rise better, you can optionally add 1/8 teaspoon (0.5 ml) ascorbic acid powder (or one 500 mg vitamin C tablet). Just dissolve it in all of the water.
4. If the dough seems too dry, you can mix in a little more water, or if it seems too wet, mix in a little more flour. Write down what you did, so you’ll know how much to use next time.
5. The dough will rise better if you cover it with a piece of smooth cloth (such as a kitchen towel) that has been gotten wet and wrung out. This is especially helpful in very dry weather or in the winter when the indoor air is dry.
6. If your baked loaf droops down over the edges of the pan, that means that you let it rise too long. Make a note to get it into the oven next time when it’s not quite as tall. On the other hand, if your loaf seems a little flat, you might want to let it rise until it’s just a bit taller next time.
7. The bread’s texture is better (more springy) if it’s stored at room temperature. If the loaf won’t be used up within a few days, however, it will stay fresher in the refrigerator – its texture will be more crumbly, but toasting will revive it very nicely. You can also store it in the freezer – a frozen loaf thawed at room temperature will have the same texture as a freshly-baked loaf. (I like to pre-slice a loaf and keep it in the freezer, then take out a slice at a time for toasting.)