Spelt Bread

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Growing up, I spent a lot of time in Home Depot. My parents love nothing more than a good kitchen renovation, except maybe gutting a barn to turn it into an office or laying their bathroom tiles, so I spent a lot of time waiting for them to pick tiles or wood. Unlike the time I spend in our big suburban grocery store, where they stocked Babysitters Club books that I could read while my mother bought dinner, at Home Depot there was no children’s paperback aisle.

This was a great disappointment to me, but fortunately trips to Home Depot were not a total loss. Right next store there was bread bakery. It may seem like this should not have been that exciting for someone who grew up with a constant supply of homemade sour dough, but this bread was nothing like my mother’s crusty, tangy, almost spongy boules. That bread, which formed the basis of almost every piece of toast or sandwich that I had during my formative years always seemed so wholesome and virtuous. It was the bread of educational science projects at school.

The breads at this bakery on the other hand were soft, nearly crustless loaves made with yeast from packets not the air. And the loaves were packed with raisins, sun-dried tomatoes, or other indulgent ingredient of the ’90s. The bakery always had a big cutting board lined with open loaves of bread and you could  pick your flavor and have a sample slice smeared with soft butter from a huge tub. Basically, these loaves were the bread equivalent of the The Babysitters’ Club: a treat to buy off whiny-kids, but not virtuous enough for everyday consumption.

I had not thought about that bread in years, but last weekend I made the first loaf of bread I’ve made since my elementary school science project days. It’s a spelt bread and it reminded me immediately of the bread shop next to Home Depot, because its texture is so similar to those special slices of bread that bought my limited patience as a child.

Unlike sourdough, this bread does not have the makings of a science project. Frankly, it’s barely a cooking project. It’s one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever seen. The dough comes together in minutes, and then suddenly you have had what turns out to be the deeply satisfying experience of making your own loaf of bread.

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It’s a spelt bread, so very low gluten and it’s packed with seeds and raisins. It’s excellent buttered out of the oven or toasted the next day. I ended up slicing up half of it and freezing. From our freezer it has toasted up nicely into the base for many tartines.

Spelt Bread:

This recipe comes from The Guilt-Free Gourmet by Jordan and Jessica Bourke. I was recently given the book as a gift. It was the perfect gift because I never would have bought a book with that title myself, but the pictures are beautiful and if this recipe is any indication it’s got great recipes for reliable standbys. I’m sold. 

 

– 3 2/3 cups spelt flour

– 1 teaspoon baking powder

– 1 teaspoon baking soda

– 1 teaspoon sea salt

– 1/3 cup golden raisins

– 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

– 1/2 cup sunflower seeds

– 1 tablespoon molasses

– 2 1/3 cups warm water

* Butter an 8-inch loaf pan

* Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

* Mix together all dry ingredients including raisins and seeds.

* Dissolve molasses in warm water.

* Stir water and molasses mixture in to dry ingredients until well combined.

* Pour into prepared loaf pan.

* Bake 1 hour, until tester comes out clean.

* After 10 minutes, remove from pan and allow to cool on rack.

* Serve warm with butter, as toast, or as open face sandwich. (Thus far I’ve had one sandwich with white beans, red pepper and egg and one grilled cheese with spinach. Both were delicious.)

 

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