Thursday, January 03, 2008

Honey Spelt Bread

Happy 2008! Today is an absolutely chilly day in Fort Lauderdale. The temperature is the coolest it’s been since last winter--we’re talking mid-50’s right now, and I love it. I know that’s pretty wimpy compared to winter in the rest of the country, but it’s such a relief to finally feel a change in the air, although I know it will only last for about two days. Then it’s back to beach weather.

I’ve had so much fun reading all the “best of 2007” lists on so many of my favorite blogs. I never get tired of drooling over everyone else’s beautiful food and reading about your adventures. I also want to take a sec and thank everyone, bloggers and non-bloggers alike, who reads and comments on my blog. I would love to hear from you about what you like and what you want to see more of. I love getting your emails and will do my best to answer every one.

So how to begin a new year? Mike and I started 2008 with Hoppin’ John and cornbread on New Year’s Day. It’s not too late to conjure up a little luck of your own with this traditional New Year’s dish. However, if you’re still in baking mode due to winter weather, but need a break from holiday decadence, I have a great yeast bread for you.

This recipe for Honey Spelt Bread was in the December issue of Food & Wine. I had eaten store-bought spelt bread and liked it, and I have been occasionally flirting with alternative flours for baking. Spelt is similar to wheat, but contains more nutrients and amino acids. It does contain gluten, but is more easily digested by people with wheat sensitivity. It also has a nuttier flavor than regular wheat bread.

This bread has a dense, sturdy homemade quality, and it’s very, very good. I like it better spread with butter than as a sandwich bread. Jam, cheese, avocado or nut butter would also be great. But, what really recommends this bread, in my opinion, is the incredibly easy method. You don’t even have to bother with proofing the yeast. I didn’t think this would actually work, but I wanted to give F&W the benefit of the doubt, so I tried the recipe as written. It took me less than 10 minutes and barely any effort to put the dough together. My loaf rose beautifully, baked evenly and looked exactly like the picture in the magazine--love it when that happens!

Honey Spelt Bread
Adapted from Food & Wine, December 2007
Note that spelt flour makes a very soft dough that must be baked in a loaf pan. If you don’t have a stand mixer, I think it would work if you mix with a wooden spoon and do the kneading by hand. This loaf freezes beautifully. I love it with Kerry Gold Irish butter as an accompaniment for soups like this.

Makes 1-9x5 loaf

4 1/2 cups (540 grams) whole wheat spelt flour
2 tsp. fine sea salt
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 3/4 cup cool (70 F) water
2 tbs. honey

In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt and yeast. Turn mixer on to medium-low speed and add the water and honey. Mix until flour is moistened, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Increase the speed to medium and knead until a stiff dough forms, about two minutes more.

Lightly coat the inside of a large bowl with butter and flour, shaking out any excess flour when finished. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Place dough in the floured bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 450 and coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and gently punch it down. Fold the dough into a loaf shape and transfer to the baking pan, seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel and let it rise a second time until puffed, about 1 hour.

Lightly dust the loaf with flour and use a sharp, thin knife to make a shallow slit down the length of the loaf. Bake for 35 minutes until loaf is golden on top and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. An instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf should read 180 degrees. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack. Cool completely before serving.


Peabody said...

What a gorgeous looking loaf.
Hope 2008 brings happiness and good health to you and all you care about.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Spelt is so hot right now, isn't it? I love the look of this bread and that it's healthier for you too. May 2008 be good to you.

Sophie said...

A very professional looking loaf Julie! It's a useful tip that you need to have a loaf pan to hand (I'm always eyeing up bread recipes and wondering if I can get away with cooking them free form)

Happy 2008!

Emiline said...

I would love to make this...I don't think we have spelt flour here, though. We don't have a lot of things!
Enjoy your weather! It was nice here today, too. 60's. It's been so cold. (MO)