This week I will bake baguettes made with whole spelt, fresh ground whole grain and organic white flour. I've been experimenting with this mix for a while and have it dialed in enough that I am ready to share it with you.
I am not sure that a baguette is supposed to be made of anything other than white flour - this was a thing in France in the 1800s - but hey we're American and we pretty much do what we want.
Spelt is known as one of the ancient grains - grains that have generally been unchanged through breeding or other genetic modification for several hundred years and which have become popular in the last . All of the wheat-related ancient grains (Spelt, Kamut, Emmer, Einkorn) have their roots in the near east (Portions of modern day Turkey, Iran, Iraq.)
A Few Notes on Nomencalature
Whole: - as in "Whole wheat" - refers to a flour that has had some bran added back into it, usually ground more coarsely than the underlying white flour. So when you buy whole wheat flour at the supermarket, you will see brown flecks in it (The bran.). In this case, the miller holds back some of the bran and the germ.
Fresh ground whole grain: refers to flour made by taking the berry (In this case organic red winter wheat from Grass Valley, from near Nevada City.) and using all its compontents (i.e. all the endosperm, the bran, the germ). When I fresh grind wheat, I refrigerate the resulting flour until baking time so as to prevent the germ (oils) from spoiling.
Organic: wherever possible, I use organic ingredients (As certified to USDA standards). A few organic ingredients (e.g. chocolate, cheese) are just too expensive to buy as organic.
Some Notes on Spelt (Cribbed from Wikipedia)
Spelt, also known as dinkel wheat, or hulled wheat, is a species of wheat cultivated since approximately 5000 BC.
Spelt was an important staple in parts of Europe from the Bronze Age to medieval times; it now survives as a relict crop in Central Europe and northern Spain and has found a new market as a health food. Spelt is sometimes considered a subspecies of the closely related species common wheat. Over the years 2004 to 2014, spelt gained widespread popularity as a wheat substitute for making artisan breads, pasta and cereals.
Spelt has a complex history. It is a wheat species known from genetic evidence to have originated as a naturally occurring hybrid of a domesticated tetraploid wheat such as emmer wheat and the wild goat-grass. This hybridisation must have taken place in the Near East because this is where goat grass grows, and it must have taken place before the appearance of common or bread wheat (a hexaploid free-threshing derivative of spelt) in the archaeological record about 8,000 years ago.
Spelt in Literature
Spelt is currently a specialty crop, but its popularity in the past as a peasants' staple food has been attested in literature. Although today's Russian-speaking children perhaps do not know exactly what polba (spelt) looks or tastes like, they may recognize the word as something that can be made into porridge, having heard Pushkin's well-rhymed story in which the poor workman Balda asks his employer the priest "to feed me boiled spelt" ("есть же мне давай варёную полбу"). In Horace's Satire 2.6 (late 31–30 BC), 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).
Spelt is also mentioned in the Bible. The seventh plague in Egypt in Exodus, did not damage 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 ...", though as noted above this is presumably a mistranslation and should be "emmer". It is mentioned again in Isaiah 28:25: "...and put in the wheat in rows and the barley in the appointed place and the spelt in the border thereof?"
So, when you eat this week's bake, you can think of yourself as very literary, biblical even.
Your Canadian Baker