The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why Spelt?

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habahabanero's picture
habahabanero

Why Spelt?

I've been curious about spelt and khorasan (kamut) for a while now, and had decided to give spelt a try. I found a kilo of white spelt flour in my local (Moore-Wilson for those of you in NZ), and as I don't usually consider flour an expensive commodity did not look at the price. When I left the check-out I examined the invoice - too find I'd paid $9 for a kilo of the stuff! By comparison I usually get 20kg of industry standard bread flour for $20 at he same place.  I have to add that I'm more than a little sceptical about the claimed health benefits of these grains vs standard wheat, but this is really all I can find about these grains on the net. Could someone please enlighten me about the culinary benefits of spelt (and kamut) that would justify the price.

 

Kollin's picture
Kollin

My experience with 100% spelt flout bread so far:

It has great taste and aroma (produces amazing sourdough bread)... and that's all about it.

In every other aspect it's inferior to the usual bread flour ;)

Gluten development ... almost none.

If yo are not careful enough with hydration the dough will start ooze water... messy, messy, messy :(

After overnight fermentation the dough falls apart, you can forget about the oven spring (use a bread form)-You'll eat a flat bread ;)

 

picosinge's picture
picosinge

My understanding is spelt has a much lower yield than wheat, and is indifferent to modern fertilizers, and requires a special mill for the removal of husk.  All of those probably account for the higher prices.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Spelt and kamut are in the category of uncommon grains in world commerce, and until they exhibit some significant advantage over wheat, rye, oats, sorgum, barley, tef, millet, etc, they will remain so. Scarcity and low market demand will keep costs high for the producers, but there is a supply/demand curve where things are in balance (at a market price point) which assure continuing availability. Other than their curiosity value, I don't think either spelt or kamut merits enough market interest at this point to drive the price down significantly.

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi there,

The benefits of spelt can be found here   http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/benefits-of-spelt-6450.html. I hope this helps.

All following prices are in Australian dollars.

I too for the 1st time have just bought spelt flour from our local health food shop. I paid  $9.89 for a half kilo organic wholemeal spelt flour. White organic spelt is the same price. I then noticed I can buy it in a major supermarket chain closer to $9.00 for a three quarter kilo bag ( organic wholemeal or organic plain white). To bake a 100% spelt loaf I feel is far too uneconomical at these prices. Your price for a kilo is good.

My first spelt loaf contained 25% spelt on a bakers percentage for a 600 grms loaf. It was a lovely loaf but I felt the spelt at this percentage was too dominating for my taste. My next 2 loaves(same loaf weight) I cut back to a 10% bakers percantage. It gave me the flavour I was looking for, which as they describe is nutty and sweet. I think I will find it hard to go back to a  100% plain white bakers flour loaf. However I will try a 15% bakers percantage loaf to make sure I am not missing out on anything in flavour.

I have just recentily began a sourdough starter using spelt. I was baking on the 6th day. The starter came alive on the 5th day. These S/dough loaves are my 3rd lot of loaves using spelt. However it is my Ist attempt at a spelt sourdough loaf .

Day 1 Originally I mixed to a slurry 50grms of white bakers flour, 50 grms of wholemeal spelt flour and 100 grms of unsweetened pineapple juice.

Day 2 I added 50 grms of white bakers flour with 50 grms of unsweetened pineapple juice.

Day 3  I now took out half of the starter(no sign of life as yet but day 3 is early) and fed another 50 grms of both of white bakers flour + pineapple juice. Instead of throwing out the excess starter I began another one but feeding it 50 grms of  both W/meal spelt flour + pineapple juice. 

Day 4 I now see small bubbles appearing along the sides of the jar and on top of the surface. I was confident we were under way knowing that the mix was not yet ready to begin baking with. Another feed repeating day 3 but throwing away the excess insteading of growing another starter.

Day 5. We have lift off. The first starter grew over night to a point where it came out of the holes in the jars lid. It is a bubbling thriving mass of sourdough starter. The 2nd mass also grew but it was in a bigger jar. I will now go back to feeding this one white bakers flour with the occassional spelt flour feed for a different flavour and approach. I am also confident I can now replace the pineapple juice with water for future feed.  Since it was so alive I decided  to bake.

150 grms of the original white starter.

400 grms of white bakers flour

50 grms of W/meal spelt flour

300 grms of luke warm water

10 grms of salt.

This mix was placed in my bread baker and set on the knead only setting. When the cycle stopped I turned the machine off and let the dough rise for another hour as S/Dough starter is slower to rise than instant dried yeast.

I then removed the dough from it's kneading basket and divided it into two on a floured surface. I gave both dough's a small stretch and fold and shaped them to place in a traditional sandwich loaf tin. They were then left to proof for the next 6 hours and cooked at 200 Degrees for 40 minutes.  The result was 2 X 500grms sourdough loaves, my best to date.

Although a more mature taste has yet to come from the  starter I was surprised that such an early proof and oven spring success from  a  young starter. The crumb was light in texture and taste with a chewy crust. Next time I will use 5% less hydration in the recipe for slighty heavier crumb.

Based on my first efforts I am not disappointed. 

 

Cheers...........Aussie Pete.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I have some bags of white spelt flour. Well, it doesn't absorb significant amounts of water, the dough slackens after a couple of hours of fermentation (reportedly due to a high amylase activity) and I could never get decent heart loaves using only spelt (its gluten is very weak and it tears, just like durum).  The taste ...to me is quite insignificant, I don't feel the reported "nutty" flavor.

In a word, I consider spelt flour as the most over-hyped for sale, absolutely not worth the huge price mark. Wholemeal spelt is only marginally better to my taste buds. Much better spending money for a good wholemeal flour for  only 1/3 - 1/4 of the price.

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi,

I know quite a few people with light wheat intolerance who happily eat spelt products.

From my own experience I really like wholegrain spelt in sourdough breads with a large wholegrain rye %, e.g. 60% wg rye, 40% wg spelt, 75% water, 2% salt, 30% rye from preferment

This tastes very different from the wheat version.

Spelt has a long tradition in some parts of Germany (Franken) where it has supposedly been introduced by the Romans.

Quite often the green spelt berries are hulled and toasted, which is called Gruenkern, literally "green kernel". It's very tasty and is used in soups, or to make kind-of meatless meatballs (with coasely ground Gruenkern). Lots of traditional recipes around.

Juergen

lumos's picture
lumos

I've only used stoneground wholegrain spelt, but I do think it does make difference in flavour and aroma when added to the mix. The difference may be to insignificant to some people, but for me it's worth it. Never used white spelt flour, so I have no opinion for or against it.

The price I pay for the spelt flour I regulary use is ₤3.25 for 1.5kg bag which is sort of upper-middle range for the price for spelt in UK, so fortunately it's not that expensive compared to what you guys in Australia have to pay.

lumos

habahabanero's picture
habahabanero

Thanks everyone for the very informative replies. I'm curious to see how these atributes are going to affect my bread, which is generally too spongey at 65% hydration to my liking when made with 100% local flour. From what most of you've said spelt is mostly a novelty grain, and at the price it really needs to bring something special to the party or it isn't going to be one of my friends!

Ruralidle's picture
Ruralidle

I make a loaf every week with 200g wholemeal spelt, 200g white spelt and 210g 50% hydration white bread flour starter.  I love this toasted and when coupled with homemade preserves it really does "bring something to the party".  However, it is essential to use the wholemeal to really appreciate the qualities of the flour.  I pay about £2 (GBP) for a kg of white and £1.75 for a kg of wholemeal.  At those levels I think that it offers good value in the taste/price equation.  However, if I had to pay the equivalent £6 per kilo (based upon $9 at $1.5 per £) I would stick to wholemeal wheat and rye flours.  But, at UK prices (Shipton Mill) I love spelt!