I cannot resist anything new at the Farmer’s Market. I have to have the tiny baby eggplants, the “banana” potatoes, the garlic scapes, the handmade sausage with fennel…. I don’t always know what I’m going to do with the things I buy, but I always enjoy the learning process. This week I bought spelt flour from a man who grows and mills grains at a farm about 20 miles from here. He sold a variety of products including corn meal, spelt flour, multigrain flour, something called Hopi Blue and Black Aztec corn flour, whole wheat flour, buckwheat, soy beans, and had samples of several flours made into cakes or breads. I tried the Spelt Flour Shortcake, and was intrigued by both the flavor and the health claims – it seemed that consuming spelt could do everything from boosting immunity to improving Type II diabetes and clogged arteries. I bit, and I bought.
So today, armed with my little sheet of recipes, I baked up some of the shortbread. It had a sort of gluey batter, and didn’t look very prepossessing in the pan after it was done,
but its really quite good. I don’t think I’d serve it as shortcake, but it has the flavor and texture of a more sweet, less moist, brown bread. It has a very soft, slightly crumbly texture not at all like the robust texture of many whole grain baked goods. I happen to love that dense, earthy, heartiness, but many folks do not.
I also did quite a lot of research and discovered that spelt is an ancient grain, (one of the original seven mentioned in the Bible), that it really does have many health-giving properties, and that its the same as Italian Farro which I adore and have never seen outside of Italy. I also read that spelt is not easy to bake with, due to its “fragile gluten content,” which tempered my enthusiasm for baking a regular loaf of savory bread using spelt flour.
Then I found this, which reassured me completely. I will try a loaf following June’s recipe (as soon as I translate the quantities), and I hope to have a loaf as lovely as the one she produced. I really do want to introduce spelt into my regular bread-baking rotation, particularly because its an “in” to get my family to eat whole grain bread that is quite a bit softer and sweeter than regular wheat bread (which they refuse to eat).
Try some spelt, whether its in June’s bread recipe, or the recipe I’ve included in the post. Let me know if you have any great spelt recipes; I’ll be looking for more, as well.
Spelt Flour Shortcake
(Adapted from a recipe provided by Jennings Brothers Stone Ground Grains)
- 2 1/4 cup spelt flour
- 1/4 cup white flour
- 1/4 cup oil
- 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk (I used the smaller quantity)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (I used the larger quantity)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla (I used vanilla paste)
- a little honey (I added about 1 tablespoon)
Mix all together and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.
- The recipe didn’t indicate what size pan to use, and it looked to me like the amount of batter was best suited to an 8 or 9 inch square pan, which is what I used. In a pan that size, it actually took closer to 40 minutes before the cake was cooked through; the cake’s volume increased quite a lot during cooking. I think this is better suited to a 9×13 pan, although you’ll have to spread the batter in a thin layer across the bottom of the pan.
- There is no direction to mix wet and dry ingredients separately and then combine them, and I think this turned out fine. I may try a more conventional mixing method next time, just for grins).