Spelt bread

I envy mothers who disingenuously exclaim ‘I have such problems with my childrens’ eating habits: they just can’t get enough caviar/oysters/organic broccoli…’. Obviously when I say envy, I mean it in a thoroughly irascible, need-to-suppress-violent-urges sort of way. My son is passionate about bread (he’s partial to ketchup too actually, but I don’t think we really need to go there ;-)).  He’s been besotted with bread since his first teeth appeared and his enthusiasiam shows no signs of abating. This spelt bread meets with his approval and believe me, he’s something of an expert in the matter.
Spelt is a tasty and healthy alternative to wheat and has a delicate nutty flavour. It’s actually an ancient grain that has come back into favour as more and more people have problems digesting wheat. Spelt has a tough outer husk, meaning that it can protect itself from attack and making it a very suitable candidate for pesticide-free production. Not only does it have more vitamins and minerals than wheat flour, it also has a higher protein content. Although spelt contains gluten, it is in a more fragile form and therefore easier to digest than wheat gluten, which is why people with a wheat intolerance are often able to eat spelt flour.
Ingredients (makes one small loaf)

250g spelt flour
5g active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
150ml lukewarm water
Begin by diluting the yeast in a few drops of water. Add to the flour and salt and then add the lukewarm water. Add the olive oil and mix well with a wooden spoon and then either knead by hand or mechanically for about ten minutes, until the mixture becomes like plastic. Leave to rise in a warm (25-35°C), draft-free place, covered with a damp tea towel for 45 minutes. The dough should double in volume. Knead again and shape into the desired form. Place on greaseproof paper, cover with the damp tea towel and leave to rise again for about 1h 15 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled baking tray and bake in a hot (225°C) preheated oven for 30 minutes.


  • apuginthekitchen

    I love spelt flour. What a lovely bread. I imagine even the pickiest eaters would love this. When you say bakers yeast do you mean active dry or pressed? I use instant yeast all the time and if you use it you have to cut the amount in half when the recipe calls for active dry.

  • Martyn Oliver

    I’m like your son: I began by loving bread, and 60 years later I still love it. It is truly the staff of life for me.
    As for spelt bread, we began to use spelt flour in breadmaking a few years ago when my wife identified an intolerance to regular wheat flour. Our experience of home baking with the recipes available at the time was that it was hard work to mix and resulted in a very cake-y loaf. Nice, but not what you would pop into the toaster for your breakfast toast-and-marmalade. However, at the time there wasn’t much else on offer; and what there was was jaw-breakingly heavy. But a few years ago we discovered a small country-village bakery about a 30-minute drive from us who has cracked the spelt problem, and his loaves are blooming fantastic! So now we buy half a dozen every fortnight, freeze them, and take them out slice by slice as we need them. Perfect.
    In the meantime, we still use spelt flour for regular baking – although we do sometimes put it through a sieve to take out some of the husks (which go into a granola or fortify a breadcrumb stash).

    • The Healthy Epicurean

      It is indeed quite hard work to mix, made easier with a sturdy Kitchenaid! This one is fairly dense, but I quite like dense bread so it suits me; I feel cheated if there’s too much air. I’ve also recently discovered spelt pasta, which is really good – far better taste and texture than wholewheat pasta. I’m happy because it means I can eat pasta again (I can’t eat wheat either).

  • Anneli

    This looks lovely. Do you have trouble finding Spelt flour over here though? Would I need to go to a specific BIO shop perhaps? Do you know what it’s called in French? – so many questions! Sorry 🙂

    • The Healthy Epicurean

      Hi Anneli –
      You do really have to go to a ‘bio’ shop for spelt flour, or at the very least the ‘bio’ secion of a supermarket perhaps? In French it’s called either ‘farine d’épeautre’ or ‘farine de petit épeautre’. I use the ‘farine de petit épeautre’ which is more tender and I think lends itself better to baking. 🙂

      • Chez Foti

        Ha ha, I was going to ask the exact same question as Anneli! I looked for it in the Bio section of our local supermarket, but unsurprisingly they didn’t stock any wheatless flours. I’ve never used it before and am intrigued, though I’m very luckily not to have a wheat intolerance. Shall look out next time I’m in a bigger town with a specific Bio shop.

        • The Healthy Epicurean

          It’s definitely trying to get hold of – it’s much more nutritious and easily digested than wheat (even whole wheat) and a really delicate nutty taste. Goes down well with children too… Can you tell I’m a spelt flour convert 😉

  • Lucie

    Am using this recipe all the time (about 3 times a week). Delighted with the results and not having to buy the additive, soya flour ridden shop variety!

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