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What is spelt flour?

spelt flourSpelt flour is one of the most popular whole grain, 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, but it is not the same thing as wheat (same genus, different species). 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 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 dramatically 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 resilient 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. If you want to experiment with spelt flour, you can start by substituting a portion of your regularly all purpose or whole wheat flour with spelt, starting with 25% of the recipe and altering as you try different batches to see the differences in flavor and texture. A great place to start is my Spelt White Bread, which is an easy to make all-purpose bread that makes fantastic toast and sandwiches.

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54 Comments
  • Marsha Swaggerty
    February 2, 2015

    I have been tested and cross-referenced in various ways and have found that while I do not have Celiac Disease (Praise the Lord), I do indeed have a severe wheat allergy and not only does it cause severe allergic reactive symptoms, but, as an inflammatory, it really stirs up my arthritis. I feel so blessed to have found organic Spelt flour in my local Kroger!! It has changed my life! I truly enjoyed whole wheat products before switching to Spelt. I tried it first by simply testing a small bit of the flour on a spoon and allowing it to mix with my saliva, waited to see if I would react or not.. usually my mouth and throat starts to burn and get sore, I have a mild asthma attack, rashes and severe itching pop up and then the gastric problems follow. None of this occurred with the Spelt! It doesn’t even bother my arthritis! The best way I can explain this, and I am talking about myself here, so I don’t want to appear as though I am giving advice to anyone else, is that I have a severe allergy to cats and dogs….. in general… BUT how I react to each species in each given family is different. We had a cocker spaniel that I was terribly allergic to, but loved too much to give up – she has since passed – we are down to our 13 year old Yorkshire Terrier – and I have no allergic reaction at all. The same with cats. So… being allergic to wheat doesn’t necessarily mean I will be allergic to Spelt as it is a different species in the same family. Anyway, I LOVE it and life is so normal now for me – well… eating out is still an issue…. but I love to cook … so, my advice is… take the risk… try just a bit – I tried the flour straight to make sure it wasn’t another ingredient (I’m also allergic to cultured dairy products and maltodextrin from wheat) and take it from there! We do use the Arrowhead Mills organic Spelt! LOVE it!

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