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Spelt (Triticum spelta) is a grass, one of the ancestors of modern wheat (Triticum aestivum). It originated in southeast Asia and is probably the "wheat" that was used around the Mediterranean 9,000 years ago. It came to Europe with traders from the Middle East and remained a favorite grain there until the 19th century and the development of modern strains of wheat.
Europeans have had a long love affair with spelt because of its easy digestibility and reputation for helping people recover from ill health as well as maintain a state of glowing, good health. It contains more protein, fat and crude fiber than wheat but it is very soluble (i.e. will dissolve easily), and thus is easy to digest. Because of its greater amounts of protein and fat, it is known as a high-quality energy source for athletes or anyone needing long periods of stamina.
In baking, spelt behaves like whole wheat flour and has a wonderful nutty flavor. It can be used just as you would whole wheat flour and substituted for the same in any of your favorite recipes. It can also be used in combination with other flours or, like the recipe below, it can be used on its own.
The following recipe comes from Purity Foods, distributor of spelt flour in the United States.
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) soft butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups spelt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs, one by one, until the mixture is fluffy. Stir in the milk. Blend and mix in the dry ingredients.
Pour into a lightly greased 8- or 9-inch square cake pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool before cutting. Yield: 12 to 18 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (1 squares, approx. 2 x 2-inch, 44 g): 139 cal, 5 g fat, 3 g protein, 8 g complex carbohydrates, 13 g sugar, 1 g dietary fiber, 46 mg cholesterol, 86 mg sodium, 111 mg potassium, 1 mg iron, 47 mg calcium, 70 mg phosphorus.
* Note: As our nutritional software doesn't include a listing for spelt, we have substituted whole wheat, the nearest equivalent, when doing these nutritional breakdowns.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 8, September - October 1992 issue.