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Eat in the heat #12 Easy seeded spelt breakfast bread with dates and walnuts


Recently I've had a bit of an overhaul of my diet, and I've ended up pretty much cutting out wheat and dairy - which I really didn't think I'd be able to do. I swore I wouldn't be able to start the day without a cafe latte or two, but I've actually grown to love having a strong, bitter espresso first thing. And I have to say, I feel much better for it. It might sound strange but apart from feeling less bloated, I'm more clear headed, more energetic.

Bread is another food that I was loathe to give up. I love baking and often make fresh bread for my family at the weekend using this ridiculously easy no-kneed bread recipe, adapted from this original one, that works wonders in a hot climate - like the UK right now - or Barbados, any day. I've always made a conscious effort to eat as many whole foods as possible - it just makes me feel better - and while I usually use organic unbleached white and whole wheat flours when making bread, I've been experimenting with a range of different flours lately. The news is, when it comes to baking bread, spelt has come out on top.

An ancient grain, spelt is a form of wheat that's easy to digest (certainly the case for me) and as a wholegrain it's packed with nutrients. As you'd expect from a flour, it's high in carbohydrates, but it also has high levels of protein and is high in fibre. Spelt is also pretty nutrient dense containing significant amounts of iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, selenium, niacin, thiamin, vitamin B6, and folic acid.

But there's more to spelt flour than it's many health benefits. Because spelt flour performed spectacularly well under pressure - rising and baking to a springy, crusty perfection - surprisingly well in fact (as you can probably guess, my baking experiments with buckwheat flour didn't turn out as well). And this is probably because of the fact that it does contain gluten. But, for me at least, that's not a problem. The bread turned out springy and moist in the middle and crusty on the outside - just how I like it.

This recipe was created early on Saturday morning to use up the spelt dough pizza mix I'd made the night before and satisfy my need for something tasty and nutritious to go with my morning coffee. Let me know how it turns out if you decided to make it.

Note: As in the recipe links above, this is a no-kneed bread recipe. Hence it being ridiculously easy. It requires no effort - no kneading, proving, knocking back. How long you have to leave it depends on how hot it is in your kitchen. As my kitchen is usually around 27-30 degrees, I can get away with only leaving it for a few hours. But if you're in the UK, and it's not the height of summer, you might need to make the dough in the evening and leave it overnight.

Ingredients

3 cups whole spelt flour (I used Waitrose own brand)

9g instant yeast (I used Fermipan)

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method

Pre heat oven to 420 degrees.

1) Measure flour into a large mixing bowl, then add yeast, salt and then water. Mix with a wooden spoon until the dough is a sticky consistency that comes together in a rough ball. For an idea of how it should look, check the pictures in this post. Then mix the dates and walnuts through so they're evenly distributed.

2) Cover the bowl with either a muslin cloth or cling film and leave, either few hours or overnight to form bubbles and rise. Check the pictures in this original recipe if your you're not sure if it's there yet.

3) When the mix is ready, sprinkle more spelt flour on top - just enough to help shape the mix into a loaf shape. I now do this without taking the mix out of the bowl as it saves having to scrape hard dough mix off the kitchen counter. Just gently smooth the dough and tuck the edges under.

4) I baked this bread in a loaf tin not a cast iron pan as in the original recipe - and it turned out fine. Really well. If you want a round rustic shape, put a cast iron or similar lidded pot into the oven to get hot, before putting the dough in.

5) Otherwise, pop it in a loaf tin and top with a liberal scattering of pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Bake for around 30 minutes - or well risen and the until the crust is a mid brown colour. When it's cooled, slice, spread with butter (coconut butter or almond butter would also be lovely but I find it's delicious as it is) and enjoy with espresso or a lovely cup of tea.