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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.
2 1/4 cups spelt
1/4 cup brown sugar or honey
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup muffin tin.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix together the milk, eggs and oil and combine with the dry ingredients, stirring for 20 seconds and no more.
Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown.
To vary, add 1/2 cup chopped almonds or 2/3 cup chopped dates or raisins (or a combination) to the batter. Yield: 12 muffins.
Nutrition information per serving (1 muffin, 67 g): 135 cal, 3 g fat, 6 g protein, 17 g complex carbohydrates, 4 g sugar, 3 g dietary fiber, 70 mg cholesterol, 228 mg sodium, 155 mg potassium, 1 mg iron, 112 mg calcium, 152 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.