Posted on January 20th, 2013
To our surprise, Robin and I discovered recently that we love spelt in breads, pastas, and other goods where it replaces conventional flours. We were surprised because we did not expect such a flavour difference. Since we had been enjoying the bread machine that we bought last year, we decided to try baking our own spelt bread just a few months ago. Initially, this was a failure, due to the recipes that we tried not being quite to our liking, and (even more crucially) due to the quickly-realised problem that spelt bread does not bake properly in bread machines. The reason I am posting this recipe and these guidelines are because most of the dozens of recipes that you find when you Google Spelt and Bread Machine Recipes do not tell you this! People post these recipes and comment that their bread machine spelt bread is the best thing since … well … sliced bread. I do not know whether they have bread machines with super powers, or whether they are just lying. In our experience, which is now rich and varied, spelt dough in a bread machine rises like the Sun, but then craters catastrophically, so that you end up with a flat and too- dense loaf that is not very nice at all. Bread machines are fine, and very useful, for making the dough for a spelt loaf, but not adequate for baking the bread.
After a few failures with our bread machine, we thought to look for help on the website of the local Victorian company called Simply No Knead, from which we had purchased our spelt flours, and from which this recipe has been adapted (and only very gently modified). Here’s what we learned: “Quite often ancient grains like spelt will rise beautifully in your machine and then in the final bake will flatten out. For best results use the Dough setting-let the machine mix the dough and then use your oven to cook the bread.” Once we followed that guideline, we had no more problems.
Guidance we did not follow from SNK would be, firstly, that we do not put oil in our bread tin. The initial reason for this is because we forgot to do it! But then, we realised it was unnecessary, and we don’t like too much oil in our food, anyway. The bread has some oil in it already, and it never sticks, but slips easily from the tin. Secondly, we use more water, more flour, and more salt than their recipe calls for and, to us, these mild alterations create the perfect bread.
Our bread tin was purchased from Marg and Maree’s Baking and Breadmaking, which is just a few blocks from home, and we are currently using their flours, too. One of the owners there explained that we should never wash our bread tin, so we just wipe it out with a dry cloth when we are done with it. Good luck with your baking! (Click below on +Read more for Recipe.)