November 29, 2012

Sourdough Pan Bread With Butterbean Filling

November 29, 2012
If you have been following the blog, you have noticed that I use spelt in most of the recipes that call for flour. Because I’m frequently asked about it, it is a good subject to explore.
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There are a couple of theories of the roots of spelt (Triticum spelta), an ancient hybrid of emmer wheat (Triticum diococcoides) and wild goat-grass (Aegilops tauschii). It remains unresolved whether it has two separate origins in Asia and Europe, or a single one in Mesopotamia (modern Iran), where it grew prior bread wheat, around 6000 BC. The earliest archaeological evidence of spelt, in Central Europe, is from the Eneolithic Period (2500–1700 BC). In the late Iron Age (750-15 BC) it became a principal wheat species in southern Germany and Switzerland. It wasn’t until the 20th Century that it was replaced by bread wheat due to the mechanization of agriculture. Unlike wheat, spelt is stored and shipped with a tough outer husk intact which, although ensuring the freshness of flour, makes it laborious and more expensive to produce. Today, the revival of organic farming has made this peasants' staple food of the past available again. Most of the spelt products on the market have an artisan flavour for being carefully stone-milled.

Spelt (Triticum aestivum ssp. spelta) that was introduced to America in the 1890’s is a sub-species of common wheat and, therefore, different from pure spelt. In the old continent it has been grown as feed for livestock for hundreds of years. Living in Europe I’m not aware how popular pure spelt is in the US nowadays but I’m sure it is available.
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Health wise, spelt is better than wheat. Even whole wheat, which has the fibre and nutrient content intact, is nutritionally inferior to it. Because spelt is highly water soluble, the nutrients are more readily absorbed by the body. It is high in protein, B vitamins, and both simple and complex carbohydrates. The complex carbohydrates are important in blood clotting and stimulating immune system. Spelt is a superb source of fibre, amino acids and minerals.

Being related to wheat, spelt is not gluten-free. However, its gluten is of less quantity and has a different molecular makeup from wheat. Those who are sensitive to wheat may find it easier to digest. In my case, it doesn’t cause dry skin, rash or headaches like wheat. Because of the fragility of gluten, spelt flour calls for less kneading and lower baking temperature. Although it doesn’t rise as much as cultivated wheat, it remains light and airy.

Spelt's has a nutty, warm flavour. It comes out strongly when whole berries are soaked and cooked as an accompaniment, like rice.
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Spelt flour is excellent for baking. There are several types available: wholegrain, extra fine, all purpose, cake, bread, mixed and graham. They are milled from the separate layers of cereal and differ nutritionally and by their baking propensities. Some has soft and some elastic or even gummy viscosity. Usually less liquid is required than when baking with wheat. However, the general rule of leaving the dough rather wet than too dry, applies to spelt as well. One of the characteristics of spelt is that it feels fatty when coming in contact with water.
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Earlier this fall, I became interested in using a sourdough starter as an alternative to commercial yeast that disagrees with my stomach acid and philosophy of consuming only sattvic (the mode of goodness) food. Using a starter is rewarding, however, it calls for planning. It takes about three days to activate the bacteria. Once it is alive, it can be used for baking or stored in a refrigerator. It takes from five to ten hours for a loaf of bread to rise in a warm place before baking.

Sourdough bread tastes wonderfully rustic. Today I’m sharing my favourite way of filling it with butterbean paste and baking it on an open pan. With a colourful winter salad aside, it makes a substantial breakfast, lunch or snack.

I have experimented with several kinds of stuffing but found mild butterbeans creating a needed contrast for the tart and crisp crust. Homemade fresh cheese works well, too.
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Thank you.

21 comments:

  1. Fabulous food! The kind of dishes I really love.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. I'm so craving for such a bread! Wonderful photographs!

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  3. This is so pretty - awesome recipe and photos!

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  4. I am intolerant to all type of cereals but spelt and kamut. Even it was quite shocking in the beginning I perfectly got use to baking with spelt and I love it's flavour. Love your post and will definitely try to make your bread.

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    1. It takes awhile to get used to spelt because it feels and acts a bit differently than wheat. It tastes so much better though! Even if bought from a store, it is considerably more fresh than any other commercially milled flour. I've made the best cakes with spelt flour. They are always soft and light, perfect sponges that hardly need any moisture added.

      The skillet bread is the easiest of all to make.

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  5. Very informative Lakshmi. If I cook with spelt (whatever little that I have started), it must be inspired from you. I'm yet to try whole spelt flour. Your recipe compels me to give it a try.

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  6. I make spelt bread and challah (ritual Jewish braided bread for the Sabbath) sometimes and find it to be tastier than regular wheat. It's also more dry and you're right about the water and the kneading. I bake it in a small pan so that the dough is 'forced' to rise and it still becomes fluffy and airy. I've never tried sourdough before, that ought to be my next challenge!

    Thanks for sharing and have a blessed day :)

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  7. I never knew there was so much to spelt. Thanks so much for sharing the information Lakshmi!!

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  8. what a informational post. I see spelt flour in lot of recipes but never really cared to look for it. Its good to know now that it is better than other kind. thanks for sharing.

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  9. Thanks for explaining all that. It does sound like a great alternative for those who have a mild reaction to gluten. I love sour dough bread but my husband not so much so we usually make the classic bread, which is certainly kinder on my stomach than store bought bread.

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  10. Thank you so much for such an informative post. I have tried spelt flour but I definitely need to work on it more to understand it better. You have inspired me to try it. In India we get only one kind of spelt flour, mainly just in organic stores.

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  11. Just wonderful, I use more and more spelt these days for all the above reasons. I will definitely try this soon. Will let you know how I get on... Thanks!

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  12. Thanks for the interesting information!! Your pictures are beautiful!

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  13. Spelt is indeed such a wonderful flour to work with. I have been playing around with it for (vegan) scones and they do turn out delicious! Unfortunately I have to import it to Mexico (or smuggle it when I come from the US!).

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  14. I use whole spelt in almost all my baking but didn't know so much about it until now. I use whole spelt and whole wheat interchangeably and only have issues with yeast bread. But even then, all I have to do is reduce the water a little or add a little extra flour and that's it. Love it! Soo much better tasting than whole wheat.

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  15. Beautiful photography and recipe. Thanks for sharing wealth of knowledge on spelt. I want to try baking with it someday :)

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  16. Very informative. I would like to try spelt but unfortunately I do not know if I can get any where I live.

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  17. Indeed, this is a lovely dish, how long did it took you to prepare this one? I've been looking for new vegan recipes that I need for my restaurant here at Ohio. I want to promote something that will avoid zinc deficiency to vegans like us in the future. I will take it to another level now. :-)

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  18. I love you <3 .. What else can I say
    http://reckitchn.wordpress.com/
    I am a new food-blogger, and you are an inspiration. :)
    Love you, again! <3

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  19. Thanks for the in-depth explanation. Although I am keen to try spelt, I've read elsewhere on your site that spelt may be replaced with the same quantity of plain flour. Is this the case here as well? Also, would I use the same recipe for the pan bread as I would if I wanted to bake the bread in the oven?

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    1. Nicole, wheat will work well in this recipe. The amount of flour may be slightly different but within similar parameters. I haven't used wheat for years and, therefore, I'm not able to aswer your question exactly. You will have to experiment :-)

      It's not clear to me if you want to bake a flatbread or loaf in the oven? If you are making a flatbread, either on the stovetop or in the oven, you may leave the dough softer (more water) than if you made a loaf in the oven. Because a loafbread is thicker, the rising time is longer, too.

      Good luck!

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