Spelt wheat (Triticum spelta L.) – is a husked-wheat species which in the past was widely grown in Northern Europe but is now considered a minor cereal. It is most likely the ancestor of the commonly used bread wheat. Spelt originated in the Fertile Crescent, an area in the Middle East spreading from Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon to Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. It has been recognized as a primary component of the human diet in the Old World during the Bronze and Neolithic ages. In Europe spelt was widely distributed during the Bronze Age (4000 to 1000 B.C.E), a distribution facilitated by the migration of early civilizations westward. The first reference to spelt is found in the edict of Roman Emperor Diocletian in 301 B.C.E. Spelt was also used in biblical times which is indicated by the fact that the grain is included in the list of ingredients in the bread baked by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 4:9): “Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt. Put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself.” Spelt was one of the favorite medicinal plants recommended by St. Hildegaard of Bingen. She said “Spelt is the best of all grains. It warms, strengthens, and nourishes. It gives a man strong muscles and healthy blood, a happy mind and a cheerful soul”. Sources show Swiss immigrants settling in eastern Ohio brought spelt to the United States.
Spelt was one of the first cultivated crops. It was widely cultivated until the last century. From the beginning of the 20th century, the cultivation of spelt declined and was replaced by higher-yielding, free-threshing bread wheat varieties. A new interest in production and expansion of spelt has appeared due to its significance in the production of healthy food products, mostly originating from organic fields.
To compare the spelt to other types of wheat, spelt plants are taller, have longer ears, a brittle rachis and glumes tightly adhere to the seed, protecting it from dispersion and against various pathogens, insects, birds, and rodents. Moreover, spelt is more resistant to diseases and various pathogenic fungi, so it requires less fertilization, pesticides, and herbicides and, as the seeds are covered by the husk, no chemicals are needed before sowing, thus making it a good crop to grow at organic and low input fields.
Spelt flour and bread made with spelt have become increasingly popular in many countries due to the nutritional properties of this grain. Specifically, spelt bread has a higher protein content, a higher lipid content, a more desirable fatty acid profile, and higher percentages of several nutrients compared to common wheat. Spelt has an interesting profile of amino acids and contains minerals: iron, phosphorus and zinc, and vitamins: A, E, D, B1, B2 and B6.
It is believed that a diet rich in spelt may be effective in preventing atherosclerosis and diabetes.
Digestible carbohydrate: 65.9%
Dietary fiber: 12%
(Arzani & Ashraf, 2017)
Spelt flour requires less liquid than other flours. If you are replacing regular flours in your recipes with spelt flour, use less liquid or add more spelt flour. Also mixing time when you make bread is shorter than in regular bread. Gluten found in spelt is more fragile than that found in wheat, so for a good result, mixing should last no more than 3.5 – 4.5 minutes at medium speed.
400 g (14oz) spelt flour
350ml (12 oz or 1 ½ cup) lukewarm water
2 ¼ tsp yeast
½ tsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp of butter
1 tsp of each of sesame, flaxseed, and black cumin
Mix flour and salt in the bowl. Separately, combine the 50ml (1.70oz) of lukewarm water, yeast, honey, and one tsp of flour in small bowl and leave under cover for 15 minutes in a warm place.
Add the growing mixture of yeast and the rest of the water to the flour mix and then combine everything using a big wooden spoon. The dough should be loose and not sticking to the bowl wall.
Grease one 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Put the dough in the pan. Dough should fill the pan half high. Leave the dough for 1-2 hours until the dough doubles under cover.
Then wash the top with warm water and spread the seeds on the top.
Put the pan in a pre-heated oven at 450oF for 15 minutes and then change the temperature to 3500F for 30 minutes.
Remove the loaves from oven and cool for 5 minutes and then remove from the baking pan and continue cooling on a rack.