Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Bread Baking Babes bake up Hildegard's Spelt Bread!

This month Bread Baking Babe Astrid has challenged us to take a trip back in time, to the age of Hildegard von Bingen - visionary, prophet and outspoken proponent of healthy eating.

We baked up a loaf made of spelt flour (spelt is an older variety of wheat with a weaker gluten structure, more tolerated by those with minor issues with gluten).

This is a delicious and nutritionally dense loaf without much oven-spring. I found it paired perfectly with tuna salad and sprouts. I'm not sure if Hildegard would approve of the mayo, but what she doesn't know can't hurt me. ☺

If you would like to bake up Hildegard's Spelt Bread and become a Bread Baking Buddy - bake and post the bread by January 29th - check out Astrid's website for details.

Saint Hildegard von Bingen lived from 1098 to 1179 in Germany. She joined a Benedictine convent in Disibodenberg and became the Abbess at the age of 35. St. Hildegard had visions all her life, which helped her see God's wisdom and be seen as a prophet. She wrote down what God told and showed her through these visions and published many volumes on science, medicine and theology.
She was also very outspoken, going on missionary trips and preaching in other cloisters and in market places. Today, there is a revivalist culture around her teachings, especially her teachings on how to eat to stay healthy and many of her medicinal and herbal remedies.

St. Hildegard's Life Rules

  1. Strengthen the soul
    • through prayer and meditation
    • by encouraging talents and virtues
    • and working against weakness and vice
  2. Regular detoxification through special "cures" or treatments, such as bloodletting, wormwood wine cure (and many others), fasting and purging therapies which are supposed to strengthen the body.
  3. When the soul, body and mind are equally strong, then the four life juices and elements are balanced. This allows the organism to work optimally and feel healthy. The balance is easily disturbed however, through incorrect eating and drinking habits and lusts.
  4. Sharpen the Senses
    • live purposefully and cheerfully;
    • "love life and use your five senses correctly", encouraging optimism and personal responsibility.
In short: Eat healthy, use natural healing methods and live by sensical rules.

Nutritional Tips from Saint Hildegard

  • The first meal should be warm
  • Healthy people should eat late
  • 2 to 3 meals per day
  • drink at mealtime
  • a short nap at midday is healthy
  • do not eat too much and make sure your food and drink is neither too warm or too cold
  • raw foods are hard on the stomach
  • cook your dishes
  • take a walk after the evening meal

The official name of spelt is Triticum aestivum var. spelta. Spelt was originally grown in Iran around 5000 to 6000 B.C. Spelt has been grown in Europe for over 300 years, and spelt has been grown in North America for just over 100 years. Spelt is often used as a feed grain for animals. However, it has gained popularity as a dietary grain due to its nutty flavor, high protein and nutrition content.
Spelt is similar to wheat in appearance. However, spelt has a tougher husk than wheat, which may help protect the nutrients in spelt. Spelt flour has a somewhat nuttier and slightly sweeter flavor than whole wheat flour. Spelt contains more protein than wheat, and the protein in spelt is easier to digest. This means that some people who are allergic to wheat may be able to tolerate spelt. Spelt has gluten, just like wheat, so spelt is not suitable for a gluten-free diet.
Spelt flour can replace whole wheat flour or whole grain flour in recipes for breads and pasta. Some people like to blend spelt flour with wheat flour. I have used spelt to make bread, rolls, sweet-breads, cookies, muffins, bagels, pretzels and I have used spelt to replace wheat in almost any recipe.

Hildegard's Spelt Bread

400 grams spelt flakes
600 grams whole spelt flour
15 grams salt
40 grams fresh yeast (14g instant)
200 ml milk, lukewarm

500 ml water, lukewarm
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sunflower oil

Mix spelt flakes and spelt flour with the salt. Dissolve yeast in milk and combine everything to a sponge. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let rest for about 15-20 minutes. (It won't be a ball, mostly crumbs)

Add water and lemon juice to the sponge and knead for at least 15 minutes gradually adding the sunflower oil.

Form doughball and coat with warm water. Cover again with kitchen towel and let double in size. Knead for another 2-3 minutes. (It may be porridgey, rise in bowl if you wish - do not add more flour)

Cut dough in 2 equal halves and place each in a prepared baking pan. Cut the surface of both breads about 5 mm deep and let rise again until doubled in size. (Top with sesame seeds, if you wish)

Bake the first 15 minutes at 200 °C, then lower heat to 195 °C and bake for another 30 minutes.

- The longer you knead the dough, the more air will be incorporated - but be careful not to over-knead the dough!
- you can also soak the spelt flakes in the lukewarm milk a while before you assemble the sponge - if you prefer...
- Also: be careful that the dough will not over-rise, especially at the last rising step. Spelt loves to over-rise if you are not careful enough... at least it does that to me ;)
- It's recommended to place a bowl with water into the oven for the first 15 minutes of baking.
- You can also brush the finished bread with some milk and let dry for about 1 minute in the oven.

This bread has been Yeastspotted!
Bread Baking Babes!