In which I make spelt bread and don't get mobbed by angry cousins.
I made spelt bread last night, and it was not exciting. And, of course, I made the spelt bread in part so that I could share the experience of making it here. But then I sat down to write the blog post this morning, and I was like, “Oh dear god. This was not exciting.”
And then I thought, “Well, I could at least explain what spelt flour is. That’s mildly interesting, right? To bakers, maybe?”
No. It isn’t. I mean, I’ll tell you what it is because I kind of have to, but you’re getting the Wikipedia version instead of the academic journal version because that shiz is boring.
Spelt flour: It is a whole grain, like wheat, but it isn’t wheat. It’s a wheat’s cousin, but it’s the older, weird cousin who has greasy hair and never wants cake at the family gatherings. (I don’t have one of these cousins, TO BE CLEAR. Also, I have three dozen first cousins, which is technically enough cousins to form an angry mob of cousins that could hunt me down and make me do horrible things, like sit through four hours of small talk or drink Diet Pepsi. I’m certainly not going to anger them unnecessarily. Wait. Does that mean I’m that cousin? This is terrible. Getting distracted by thoughts of possibly being the weird cousin is not going to help me get this spelt bread blog post written.)
I should get back to the point—spelt flour. It’s a cereal grain in the same genus as wheat but is a different species. If you don’t know what that means, then you had a terrible high school biology teacher. (I had a wonderful high school biology teacher, possibly the best biology teacher in all the land. I don’t want to make him mad, either.) It’s similar in taste to wheat, I found, but isn’t quite as wheaty. I actually like the taste of spelt maybe even a tiny bit more than I like the taste of wheat—and I really like wheat flour and wheat bread. This is the spelt bread/recipe in question from How to Bake:
I bought Bob’s Red Mill spelt flour from Amazon because that’s how I do and because, oddly, the local Food Lion doesn’t carry spelt flour. WEIRD. I opened it for the first time last night and, like I always do when encountering a new-to-me flour, ran my fingers through it. (I really do run my fingers through it. I like flour! You should like it, too.) It’s very silky but also has just a TEENSY BIT of corn-meal-like graininess to it. I consider regular, all-purpose flour to be PLOOFY. It just ploofs everywhere and is very, very soft. Spelt is much silkier but much less ploofy. It’s quite lovely.
Here's the thing about spelt bread dough: if the lighting in which one takes a picture is bad, it looks a lot like spoiled ground beef. So I didn't include those pictures. You're welcome. Here, instead, is a picture of the dough, post-kneading (with the mixer for 12 minutes because the recipe said at least 10 minutes because of a gluten-related issue) and another picture post-rising. It REALLY poofed up. Poofy bread dough is one of my favorite things in the world and not just because I can punch it. Being able to punch it isn't necessarily important unless one is in training to defend oneself against a mob of, say, angry cousins. No, I like it because it's a very clear representation of the fact that I DID something--something productive! Something that didn't involve picking up someone else's poop! Something that didn't involve correcting someone else's grammar! (Good god, my life sounds unpleasant. Spelt is turning out to be even less glamorous than I'd originally anticipated.)
After this first rise, I punched it and shaped it and stuck it in the pan. This time, I remembered to use my regular bread loaf pan, which was previously one of my dad's. It isn't non-stick, anymore, because it's now quite old and was used a LOT, so I did use PAM cooking spray instead of butter to grease the pan. I just have to use PAM if I'm going to use Old Trusty. (That's my name for my bread loaf pan. I'm not the best at naming things, as I tend to be literal. We're currently feeding a stray cat that is all black, and his name is Blackie. We're also currently feeding a stray cat named Georgie [I'm very proud of that name choice] and another cat who looks just like Georgie whose name is Georgie Lookalike. So you might want to get used to Old Trusty.)
I apparently had very enthusiastic yeast last night. I should probably think of another way to say that.
I will say that this bread dough had a much stronger fermentation smell as it was proofing than other breads I've made. The kitchen smelled a bit brewery-y. So I was curious as to how it would taste.
And here he is! (Spelt bread is a he; we'll call him Spelty.)
My impressions: The crust was quite hard and unyielding, almost like a slightly thicker French bread crust. However, the bread filet, if you will, was very soft and springy and moist. It did taste a lot like wheat bread but was slightly more subtle in flavor, maybe? I actually liked it a lot better than the very first bake from two weeks ago, the whole wheat loaf. This spelt bread contained ONLY spelt flour, no all-purpose, but was much more palatable than the all-wheat loaf.
Spelty may not be the most exciting food I've ever baked, but do not underestimate him! He is perfectly capable of satisfying your every desire. I should probably think of another way to say that.
The recipe (below) is quite simple and easy, so, if you are interested in a whole grain bread that's not quite so intense, you might want to give it a go.
(I found the recipe only on other blog sites, so that's what I'm sharing here: https://thelobsterclub.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/paul-hollywoods-spelt-bread/)