Spelt is one of the “Ancient Grains”, grains which have a long history of use by mankind and which have recently become popular again, and is likely a hybrid of Emmer (Another ancient grain) and wild grasses. It has a high protein content but its gluten is a different structure than that found in conventional wheat and some folks with gluten intolerance find it easier to digest.
Cribbing straight from Wikipedia….‘The earliest archaeological evidence of spelt is from the fifth millennium BC in Transcaucasia, north-east of the Black Sea, though the most abundant and best-documented archaeological evidence of spelt is in Europe. Remains of spelt have been found in some later Neolithic sites (2500–1700 BC) in Central Europe. During the Bronze Age, spelt spread widely in central Europe. In the Iron Age (750–15 BC), spelt became a principal wheat species in southern Germany and Switzerland; by 500 BC, it was in common use in southern Britain.’
And, some great references in literature.
· Pushkin's well-rhymed story in which the poor workman Balda asks his employer the priest "to feed me boiled spelt".
· In Horace's Satire 2.6 (late 31 – 30 B.C.), which ends with the story of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse, the country mouse eats spelt at dinner while serving his city guest finer foods.
· In The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, Pietro della Vigna appears as a suicide in Circle VII, ring ii, Canto XIII of the Inferno. Pietro describes the fate awaiting souls guilty of suicide to Dante the Pilgrim and Virgil. According to Pietro, the soul of the suicide grows into a wild tree and is tormented by harpies that feast upon its leaves. Pietro likens the initial growth and transformation of the soul of the suicide to the germination of a grain of spelt (Inferno XIII, 94–102).
· The seventh plague in Egypt reported in Exodus, chapter 9 was said not to have damaged the harvest of wheat and spelt, as these were "late crops".
· Ezekiel 4:9 says: "Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof ..."
This Saturday’s Bake
I am going to bake white sourdough rounds using 30% white, 30% high extraction, 30% white Spelt and 10% fresh whole grain Spelt organic flours - I test baked this last weekend and the resulting loaf was rich, light and with a very nice crust. Tasty!
One of the fascinations for me about working with sourdough bread its involvement with symbiotic organisms - yeast and bacteria - in its creation.
Bugs - little creatures - live in, on and all around us. You have 10 X as many organisms - bacteria, yeast and fungi - in your biome than you have cells in your body. Your biome - on your skin, in orifices and your GI tract - takes care of you, helping you digest food, boosting your immune system and keeping you comfortable. There is evidence that our assault on our biomes, with things like anti bacterial soap, disinfectants and anti biotics, has made us more prone to allergies, sickness and depression.
A fellow student at a baking course I did recently had run UC Santa Cruz's experimental farm. She explained that plant biologists are beginning to figure out that the soil biome works symbiotically with plants, nourishing them, protecting them and even helping them communicate. There is even a Canadian company that custom mixes yeasts and bacteria for produce growers to apply to their crops to help them improve yields. This by improving the plants' biome. Cool stuff!
Of course, some bugs (ecoli comes to mind) are truly nasty and we shouldn't forget how miraculous antibiotics are. But, figuring out some middle ground, we should find healthier, happier and more tasty lives.
This Saturday's Bake
This Saturday I am going to bake a seeded wheat bread - the recipe is from Chad Robertson's third Tartine cookbook - which will contain toasted pumpkin, sunflower, flax, black sesame and caraway seeds ina dough made with 30% organic white, 20% fresh ground whole grain and 50% high extraction (that's the flour that has most of the bran retained) flour. Should be tasty.
If you are allergic to any of these seeds, let me know and I will bake a separate, non seeded set of loaves.
Your Canadian Baker