It's official. I'm obsessed with spelt flour.
So far, all of my experiments with this ancient grain have been a resounding success. Spelt is more water soluble then your average flour, meaning its easier for our bodies to break down the gluten and absorb nutrients. It's has unique carbohydrates that help to boost the immune system, reduce blood clotting and it's higher in protein then common wheat hybrids.
Archeologist have found evidence of spelt near the Black Sea dating back over 6000 years. It's was widely used throughout the Bronze Age and became hugely popular in Central Europe during the Iron Age. It was introduced to the US in the 18th century and is now hugely popular as health food.
And I love it. I feel full after eating it, but not weighed down and sluggish. It's not nearly as heavy as other readily available flours and it has a lovely nutty sweet flavour. And it replaces plain flour perfectly on a 1:1 ratio. What more could you ask for?
My current favourite recipe is this super simple organic spelt pasta. All you need is a good pasta machine, and food processor, scales and time. I adore homemade pasta, making the dough only takes 5 minutes, but rolling it out takes time, repetition and some tender love and care.
Spelt flour pasta 2 servings = 100g spelt + 1 large egg free-range (60g) 4 servings = 200g spelt + 2 large eggs free-range (120g) 6 servings = 300g spelt + 3 large eggs free-range (180g)
- Put your food processor bowl on a set of scales and tare the weight to 0g. Add your chosen serving of flour and crack your eggs into the bowl. Take note of the weight of the eggs. If they are a little over the above estimates, you may need to add more or less flour.
- Blitz together your ingredients, they should form a sticky ball in the processor. Remove the dough and kneed on a floured surface for a minute. The dough needs to have elasticity but not be too sticky. If it has very little resistance then you will need to add another egg and gradually add more flour until you have the desired consistency, which means you will have a larger serving.
- Cover the dough with cling wrap or in an airtight container and chill in the fridge for an hour.
- Divide your dough in half for 2 serves, quarters for 4 serves and eighths for 6 serves. You will need to keep it tightly covered so it doesn't dry out.
- Take your first portion of the dough and flatten with your hands, lightly dust with flour and take through the lowest setting (usually marked as '0') on your pasta machine. Fold the dough over and roll it through again. Repeat this step at least 10 times on the first setting. This process is called laminating. Your stretching the gluten in the pasta to achieve a silky smooth texture.
- Increase the pasta machine setting to the next level (1), fold your dough again, flour and continue to laminate the pasta into long sheets. I usually repeat this about 5 times per setting until I have the desired thickness of pasta. My machine has 0-9 setting and I usually don't go passed level 7. You will not need to flour your pasta sheet after every roll, only when it feels sticky. Too much flour will make the texture crumbly.
- Now that you have a long sheet of pasta, dust it with flour and run it through your fettuccine cutter on your machine, or cut into your desired thickness with a knife.
- I like to hang my pasta on a $3 jewellery tree from Ikea, with a little baking paper to stop it sticking. You can then transfer the pasta to a floured and lined tray to dry out in little bunches. If you're storing the pasta, it needs to be completely air dried before transferring to an airtight container. It should last for up to 3 months in the pantry.
Your cooking time will depend on the quantity and age of the pasta. If your cooking it freshly made, it should only take a few minutes in very salty boiling water. You're looking for an al dente texture. If the water begins to froth, you've gone to far - the flour is starting to break down and the pasta will begin to split into a gluey mess.
So far I've eaten this pasta with a fantastic sugo and fresh basil, or in a meatball carbonara. I'm going to attempt a ravioli later this week using the above recipe. Enjoy!