Spelt is most definitely the grain of the moment. However, spelt is certainly not new, it is in fact one of the most ancient of grains and spelt breads date back as far as roman times. The romans actually referred to spelt as “the marching grain” as spelt bread was relied upon to fuel the roman armies during their vast marches across Europe more than 2000 years ago.
Nowadays there are a variety of reasons many of us are turning to spelt for our home bread baking. Firstly, its highly nutritious, with more protein, minerals and micronutrients than regular wheat, especially if the whole grain spelt flour is used. The gluten in spelt is more delicate than in regular wheat and therefore easier to digest for people with gluten sensitivity. And last, but certainly not least, spelt has a distinct nutty flavour which makes for wonderful tasting bread.
In this recipe for Crunchy Spelt Walnut bread I wanted to enhance the nuttiness of spelt with respect to both the flavour and the texture, hence the addition of walnuts, sunflower seeds and semolina flour.
In this recipes I use a mixture of whole spelt and white spelt flours, and also a significant proportion of semolina for added crunchy texture. The semolina, or hard wheat, can, of course, be substituted for more spelt flour if a wheat-gluten free loaf is required.
This is a relatively easy to make yeast bread. Since I am quite fond of long slow fermentations to allow maximum flavour to develop I retard the bulk ferment in the fridge. You can, if short of time, allow the dough to rise at room temperature and you will have a beautiful Crunchy Spelt Walnut bread after approx. 3 hours.
Crunchy spelt walnut bread recipe
Total time; approx 12 hours (or 3 hours if bulk ferment at RT)
Hands on time; 30 min.
Sample schedule 1 ; at 8.00 mix and knead, at 8.15 into fridge for bulk ferment, at 16.00 shape and into prooving baskets, at 17.30-18.00 bake
Sample schedule 2 ; at 8.00 mix and knead, at 8.15 bulk ferment at RT, at 11.00 shape and into prooving baskets, at 12.00 bake
Ingredients for 2 medium round loaves
530g warm water
15g dried yeast
250g whole spelt flour
280g white spelt flour
275g semolina (called Hartweizengreis in Germany)
20g brown sugar
75g sunflower seeds
- Combine all the ingredients apart from the walnuts, sunflower seeds and salt. Mix and knead for 10minutes, either using a dough hook and electric mixer or by hand.
- Add the walnuts, sunflower seeds and salt and knead in to distribute.
- Form the dough into a ball and a place in an oiled bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours, (or leave at room temperature for 2.5-3 hours).
- Deflate the dough. divide into 2 equal pieces and form into rounds. Place into floured prooving baskets and allow to re-rise for 1.5 hours, or until almost doubled in size. (if you did the bulk ferment at RT this will only take 45-60 minutes since the dough is not cold). Pre-heat your oven, and dutch oven if you are using one, to 250 deg C.
- Turn out the risen dough and cut 1cm deep slashes into the surface. Bake either in a dutch oven or on a pre-heated baking stone/sheet, with steam. For the steam place a tray of water onto the oven floor. After 15minutes reduce the heat to 200deg C and bake for a further 35-45 minutes, until your desired browness. Cool fully on a wire rack before slicing.
A slice of crunchy spelt walnut bread is perfect topped with a semi-soft blue cheese. Its equally good with jam or nutella as a nutritious sandwich for your kids.