Spelt flour is one of the more popular non-wheat flours available. It shows up in pastas, breads and in a variety of specifically wheat-free recipes. But what exactly is spelt flour?
Spelt is a cereal grain in the wheat family. The grain has been cultivated for centuries, in both central Europe and the middle east.It looks very similar to wheat in appearance, but it has a much harder outer shell before it has been milled. It has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor, similar to that of whole wheat flour. It does contain some gluten, so one of the reasons that spelt is rather popular is that it is easy to substitute it into all wheat cookie, bread, etc. recipes, where you will get to enjoy the flavor of spelt without compromising the texture of your baked good.
Another reason that spelt flour is popular is that it has a fairly strong nutritional profile. Spelt has slightly fewer calories than wheat flour and is somewhat higher in protein. The flour is easy to digest but is lower in fiber than wheat.
The gluten in spelt flour is a little unusual. Unlike wheat flour, which is quite resiliant and often needs a long kneading time (with breads) to strengthen its gluten and give the bread structure, the gluten in spelt flour breaks down fairly easily. This means that it is pretty critical not to overmix it, or risk having a crumbly texture imparted into whatever you’re making.
Food bloggers, naturally, like to experiment with spelt flour. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Pandolce with Saffron
- Vegan Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Butternut Squash Muffins
- Pear Blueberry Tart with Spelt Crust
- Spelt Party Cakes