Spelt flour is an alternative to wheat flour that is popping up in more and more places these days. It isn’t gluten free, but the gluten is spelt is generally considered to be a little more delicate than the protein in wheat, so it will impart a different texture to baked goods. Specifically, it can actually make things more delicate or crumbly than all purpose flour alone because the protein breaks down much more quickly than wheat gluten does. I like working with part spelt flour and part wheat flour with breads to get the best of both worlds: delicacy from the spelt and enough gluten to get a high rise on the finished loaf.
This bread uses part spelt flour – I chose an organic white spelt flour – and part all purpose flour. It’s a fairly basic bread with just water and a bit of butter, sugar and salt. The finished product is wonderful. The bread has a great lightness to it and a very soft texture, with a tight, fine crumb. My helpful testers actually said that it reminded them of Wonderbread because of how soft it was – although they did note that it tasted much better than they recalled actual Wonderbread being. The flavor of this loaf comes primarily from the butter. There is not much of it in the recipe, but it makes a big impact on this loaf. Each piece has a very subtle buttery flavor to it, and toasts up to a fantastic golden brown color if you’re inclined to make toast. The butter also helps to preserve the loaf and keep it fresh and soft for several days after baking.
This bread has a fine crumb that makes it very easy to slice up for sandwiches or french toast. It may seem a little unusual because of the inclusion of spelt at first, but that also makes it a great recipe to start with if you want to begin experimenting with non-wheat flours in your baking. And if you’re already working with some non-wheat flours, it’s just a great sandwich bread to add to the collection.
White Spelt Bread
1 1/4 cups warm water (100-110F)
1 tbsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup spelt flour
3-4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp butter, soft
2 tsp salt
In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, active dry yeast, sugar, spelt flour and 2 cups all purpose flour. Stir until smooth. Add in additional cup of flour, softened butter and salt. Stir dough, or mix with a dough hook, until dough comes together into a uniform ball.
Turn dough out onto a well floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Alternatively, add in additional flour a few tablespoons at a time and knead dough with a dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic, and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the mixing bowl, about 5 minutes.
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2-2 hours.
When dough has risen, gently deflate and shape into a round loaf, pulling the “skin” of the loaf tight underneath (pinching it together) to make the dough into a relatively tight ball. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with a clean dish towel. Let rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Make four 1/4-inch deep slashes in the top of the loaf and place in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until an internal read thermometer reads 200F. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf.