We’re still finishing the pumpernickel loaves I made earlier, so I baked a dessert this time – spelt brownies. The recipe is based on a Fudge Brownies recipe (page 573) from Farm Journal’s Homemade Pies, Cookies & Bread. Published in 1983 it remains among my favorite cookbooks.
Also, I wanted to understand more about the impact of spelt flour. I read that spelt can replace ordinary white flour one-to-one, but I wondered if it were true or if a person could tell the difference. As I indicated in an earlier blog, I made most of my Christmas baked goods using plain white flour because I wanted to keep the traditional qualities of the cookies and cakes. While I really do like the dense, full-bodied flavor of whole grains, sometimes the lighter qualities of white flour are desirable as well. Trying brownies seemed like a reasonable way to begin checking out how well spelt flour worked. [I’m not even going to talk about the fact that I now had an excuse to bake a yummy dessert!] I used sugar instead of blue agave to better determine that any changes in quality would be due to spelt alone.
2 -1 ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup butter
¾ cup spelt flour
½ tsp baking powder
a little less than ½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla (made with vodka)
a little more than ½ cup broken walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Lightly grease an 11 X 7.5 inch pan
Melt chocolate and butter together, cool to lukewarm.
Mix flour, baking powered and salt together in bowl.
Beat sugar and eggs together on medium speed, until light.
Combine the chocolate-shortening mixture, vanilla, and egg-sugar mixture.
Gradually add flour mixture with mixer on low speed.
Stir in walnuts and mix well.
Spread evenly in the greased pan and bake on center rake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack.
Frost with chocolate frosting if desired.
RESULTS: I had several taste testers for these brownies. They all concurred: the brownies were chewy with a full chocolaty flavor. Did I hear the spontaneous, fully satisfied “Ummm” from one of the testers? Spelt is supposed to have a more nutty flavor than wheat, however, no one could tell the difference between these brownies and those traditionally made with white flour. It could be that the chocolate flavor overcame any more subtle taste differences. Whatever, these brownies were considered a definite winner.
The official name of spelt is Triticum aestivum var. spelta. (from: http://nutrition.about.com/od/grainsandcereals/p/spelt.htm) According to Wikipedia this ancient grain was an important part of the European diet from the Bronze Age to medieval times. It belongs to the wheat family but has more protein than wheat flours, 17 % versus 13.7% in whole grain wheat. While spelt has gluten, the gluten is different from wheat gluten and should be handled more judiciously – that is, don’t overwork it or it will break down. For more on spelt flour and baking in breads go to http://www.breadexperience.com/spelt-bread.html.