People have asked whether spelt flour is gluten free or not. Most studies have confirmed that it is not and therefore they don’t recommend spelt to celiacs. Because is doesn’t contain a lot of wheat, its tolerable for those with certain degrees of wheat allergies. Spelt, also scientifically known as triticum spelta, is a hexaploid species of wheat. Spelt was an important staple in parts of Europe from the Bronze Age to medieval times. It is an ancient grain that was discovered around 5,000 in Iran, or what was known as Persia. It has been grown in Europe for over 300 years, and in North America for just over 100 years. It’s often used as a feed grain for animals; however, it has gained popularity as a dietary grain due to its nutty flavor, high protein and nutrition content. Spelt survives as a relict crop in Central Europe and northern Spain and has found a new market as a health food. Spelt has more protein than wheat but that protein also contains gluten as well. The biggest complaint most people have about spelt bread/challah that its heavy and dense. Since this was my first time baking spelt challah, I found the process to be suspenseful. I originally borrowed this recipe online. I made several modifications with the measurements and ingredients . Rather than using the entire bag of whole grain spelt flour, I divided the amount with bread flour to give it a light balance. If you prefer to only stick with spelt flour, then by all means do so. For this recipe, you will need:
- 4 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 4 cups warm water
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar or honey
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup of vegetable or canola oil
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 7 – 8 cups of spelt flour
- 3 1/2 – 4 cups of bread flour
- Sesame seeds (optional)
Mix the yeast, water and honey or sugar in a big bowl, and let the mixture bubble for about 5 minutes. Add 2 eggs, oil and salt, and beat. Add the flour, and mix thoroughly. Transfer the mixture to a lightly-floured flat working surface, and knead for about 15 minutes, turning the dough a quarter of a turn every 2-3 minutes and punching it down often to eliminate any air pockets. Transfer the kneaded dough into a big mixing bowl (remember, it will expand). Sprinkle flour all around the dough. Let rise, covered with a cloth, in a warm draft-free area for 2 hours. Shape the Challah: divide the dough into 4 pieces. Divide each piece into thirds and roll each third into a long thin rope. Pinch the 3 ropes together at one end to hold them in place. Braid, and place the braid on a foil-covered cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Place the loaves well apart in the pan. Brush each loaf with an egg wash and top with seeds if desired. Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Yield 4 large challot or 6 medium challot.