Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spelt Flours

Spelt Flours Explained

There are four common grades of spelt flour, which can be found at your local health food store:
  • Wholemeal - this means that only the husk has been removed, so there is a lot of bran left in the flour. This is suitable for wholemeal breads, which will be heavier and tastier than their white counterparts.
  • 80/20 - which is essentially wholemeal less about 20% of the bran. So it's a bit lighter, and very workable in terms of the home baker. This flour will yield quite light dough, with lots of flavour, but with all the heavy duty bran removed. You would still call this flour a wholemeal flour though.
  • Light Unbleached - now we're getting towards white spelt flour. Essentially, this flour is 20/80, or 80% of the bran removed. A very nice general purpose breadmaking flour, still with a good amount of flavour, but with the ability to be used for producing fairly light breads and even pastries.
  • White - all the bran removed, this is still a very flavoursome spelt flour. Suitable for fairly light breads, though is not in the same league as white wheat flour in terms of lightness.
These grades represent the amount of bran that has been removed from the whole grain in the milling process. Different millers use different terminology, but the gist of it is the same - firstly, the flour gets more expensive as it gets lighter. There's a good reason for this. As bran is removed, so too is weight. Unless the miller can sell the bran which has been removed, whiter flours return less per kilo. Also, the more a product is processed, the more it costs. So if it has to be sifted a number of times to get the desired grade of flour, there are extra labour costs involved.

Secondly, the bread you make from each of the different grades of flour will be quite different. This applies to the look, feel and taste of the breads, as well as to the amount of water that you need to use in the dough
. Wholemeal flours contain more bran, which absorb more water. Thus, recipes will vary considerably, according to what grade of spelt flour is used. If I have said that the recipe requires a certain amount of water, and your spelt flour is more bran than mine, you'll need to adjust the water content in the recipe.

My rule of thumb is to practice until you become familiar with the type and consistency of dough you are comfortable with. A true baker works mainly from proportions, rather than measurements. You become increasingly aware of what feels 'right', and so you'll add or subtract accordingly.

My next post will go into a spelt sourdough bread recipe in detail, based on the grade of flour available here in my locality. You may find you can only get certain grades where you are. This is quite likely when it comes to something like spelt flour, here in Australia, where there are only small producers. That's why I have gone into the different grades of spelt flour here first. You will be able to adjust your recipes to suit availability - but bear in mind that over time I will cover recipes for different grades of flour anyway.

Until then, Happy Baking!

No comments:

Post a Comment