The Fresh Loaf

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Spelt or emmer? Which one is the most tasty?

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nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Spelt or emmer? Which one is the most tasty?

Hi,


lately I tried to use spelt both to make bread and to make salads, but I had mixed results: in some cases the product was very tasty, in others it was quite tasteless (just like soft wheat). Unfortunately I can't tell for sure which one I was using because only recently I discovered that there are 3 varieties of spelt (they are all called "farro" here).


Can you advise me which one of the three varieties (spelt, emmer, einkorn) is the most tasty one? Here in Italy emmer is by far the most cultivated and the most common in stores, but if spelt has a better taste I'll give it a try.


Einkorn seems to be totally unavailable ;-(

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

Just having a look through the forum for posts about Emmer wheat when I came across your question. Well, 4 and a half years later, you get your first response :)

 

I have had success with Spelt, Einkorn and Khorasan all very different. The one thing they all have in common is they need far less time proofing then regular wheat. Otherwise texture, taste and handling wise they are unique.

 

Spelt is quite an easy dough to work with, very much like the wheat but produces a much tastier bread and easier to digest.

Einkorn is much more difficult to work with, the dough is very sticky and you must be very careful to not leave it too long to rise. The bread is savoury.

Khorasan is a wonderful golden flour that produces a slightly sweet bread but unless you are baking in a bread tin the dough tends to flatten out this is why many use it for pizza bases and flat breads. I had great success in my breadmkaer and got a good sized loaf.

I haven't tried Emmer yet as I cannot seem to find it in London where I live.

ElPanadero's picture
ElPanadero

I believe is actually one of the most tricky grains to manage. In 2 bakeries I have worked in, the spelt doughs were the ones that often caused problems. It seems to be the hydration levels that need to be very carefully worked out for the specific flour and working environment. Typically when there were problems the dough would be terribly sticky, almost unworkable and too slack to be shaped. It can be remedied of course but in a production environment that all adds extra time and disrupts the established schedule.

There must be something about the absorbtion levels of spelt and it's chemical reactions with water that can make it a tricky beast.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I learned that what makes spelt so sticky and slack is its high amylase activity, just like in rye, but spelt lacks the pentosans that rye has. Yet, the taste of spelt is no special to my tongue, just another soft wheat variety.

I also learned to handle the stuff to get high volume spelt loaves, but after all it's not worth the trouble.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

There must be something in the air. I have been trying more ancient wheats recently! In fact I just tried to make a loaf with Emmer wheat today, but I overworked it.

Spelt, emmer, and even durum have strange gluten. With stickiness being a common problem.

White spelt and durum seem to have the same handling qualities in my experience. They can start off sticky, but you can work through this. Also the more you work the dough the stiffer it becomes and the more water it will take on, hence why I have managed to make 100% white spelt @ 100% hydration. Another similarity is the fine crumb they both produce. 

But back to flavour, well wholegrain will always impart more flavour, of spelt and emmer, I prefer Emmer. Not tried einkorn. Khorasan is seriously tasty though!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I think we need to find out what is actually going on here so we can make these ancient doughs.  I put up with sticky because I work more with rye.  Everything is less sticky than rye.  But I do keep my eye on surface tension, that seems to be the best guide.  If it gets tight enough to rip, the dough needs a rest phase to relax the gluten.  Wet hands seems to help more with spelt than dry floury ones.  I still haven't made a spelt brick yet (k.o.w) and don't know why... is it my lazy kneading and resting?  The absorption of water is interesting and I may have to investigate that, weighing the dough thru the rising and handling to see if it gains weight.  

I've switched in Austria to Einkorn for all my wheat needs.  Just because I can.  Family seems to have less complaints and better moods or they are just getting older and more experienced.  Everyone likes to cook at my house and no one asks, what's this strange flour or got any wheat?  They do prefer the spelt to Whole wheat and I don't buy WW anymore.  They do like nut flours.   

I can't nail down emmer as of yet but I do think that all of these older varieties tend to need some kind of long autolyse, more than an hour, to make handling easier.  I tend to throw "sticky" back into the bowl to rest & fold until I can play with it and that seems natural to me.  Other than rye, overnight retarding or fridge retarding helps a lot. 

 

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11

I've never had any problems with sticky dough when it comes to spelt and for 320g of flour I use quite a high hydration - 220ml water. Einkorn is very sticky but still produces a lovely bread. But then again i'm not kneading it myself but use a breadmaker. With many flours the more you knead the dough the less sticky they get but not with Einkorn. The only reason I can think of, why my spelt is less sticky even with high hydration, is the temperature controlled environment inside the breadmaker. When opening the lid to see if the breadpan needs scraping down the sides I have noticed the machine makes a very humid environment "even when kneading" and I think this helps with the consistency important to produce the dough, not only for rising. Obviously this is impossible to do when kneading by hand. something to think about.