We are sure you’ll enjoy the very first guest blog on the Whole Health Crew site by Barb Warren, a passionate, energetic whole food and organics enthusiast; founder of the hugely popular Ohoka Farmers’ Market; and owner of The Organic Food House, Rangiora’s fab specialty food store, cafe and juice bar. In this post, Barb enlightens us to the merits of Spelt flour, a low-gluten alternative to wheat flour. She also shares a delicious muffin recipe.
I have experimented with Spelt for some time and we use Spelt in all our foods at The Organic Food House which require flour. A lot of our customers have also become interested in Spelt so here are some facts that might be of interest to those who want to know why and how they can incorporate it into their kitchens.
Spelt has a much lower level of gluten than regular flour which makes it more easily digestable for those who have problems with IBS. A lot of people with gluten sensitivity find they can switch to spelt flour without experiencing the symptoms they have with wheat flour. However the presence of gluten means it is not suitable for coeliacs.
We supply three different kinds of organically grown and freshly processed Spelt flour in bulk at the store. Two of these are imported from the States being the wholemeal and white flours. The third, the shop’s favourite, is a local Bio Dynamic ‘Demeter’ Dinkel Spelt grain from Millmore Downs in Scargill. The Henderson family have been growing Dinkel Spelt and processing it into flour for several years.
* Spelt is an ancient grain which lost its popularity due to the industrial production of hybridised wheat.
* Dinkel is just another name for Spelt, this is the German name, Farro being the Italian.
* White spelt has more of the husk removed whereas the Dinkel and Wholemeal Spelts have more in tact. The husk protects the wheat inside and it is the source of much of the nutrients including the fibre which our bodies need.
* Spelt has less glutamic acid/glutamine than normal wheat. Glutamic acid/glutamine are thought to be related to intolerance to MSG in foods.
* Spelt has a mild, slightly nutty flavour.
Can you use Spelt flour 1/1 to replace ‘normal’ flour in baking?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Generally I think this depends on what recipe you are using. If you were replacing spelt for standard white flour as in a cake recipe you might find it does not hold together so well unless you make some adjustments. These might include adding extra moisture or blending of both white and Dinkel spelt flours instead of just using one.
As far as shelf life goes, Spelt baked products don’t last as long as commercial white and brown baking. Sometimes they don’t improve by being placed in the refrigerator or frozen. Spelt baked foods can sweat a lot too, you might notice this a day later. Basically, back in the days of ancient Spelt, you would eat your food fresh from the oven rather than keeping it on the shelf for days or weeks. Though it is generally ok a day later.
Here is our fullproof Spelt Muffin recipe which is easy, reliable and wholesomely delicious. We’ve used seasonal pears from Ashley River Organics, pictured here at the Ohoka Farmers’ Market, but you can substitute with any fruit you fancy.
Ashley Organic Pear and Banana Spelt Muffins
Makes 6 large muffins
Oven 180deg Fan bake (25 minutes)
Mash two very large bananas in a mixing bowl.
Add your prepared fruit of choice : 1/2 cup of lightly stewed pears (or depending on the season, raspberries, blueberries or passionfruit etc).
In another bowl mix :
1/2 cup of Millmore Dinkel Spelt/Organic Wholemeal Spelt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (gluten free)
1 tsp baking soda (aluminium free)
Pinch of sea salt
100 gm organic Panela Sugar (we also stock this Portugese unrefined whole cane sugar in bulk)
To the dry ingredients add :
280 ml buttermilk/yoghurt
1 large free range egg
75 gm organic olive oil
Add the fruits last and mixed gently till well mixed. (Don’t over mix muffins ever!)
Grease some deep muffin tins and spoon in generously till three-quarters full.
Optional : top with extra fruits and some panela sugar.
Bake at 180 degrees for 25 minutes.
Leave in the tins to cool.
Gently use a knife to ease out.