“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”

James Beard (1903-1985)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

BBB - Hildegard's Spelt Bread

I say it all the time, so it must be getting old to some of you readers, but I just love baking with these Bread Baking Babe girls! This month, we had a special lady join us, Hildegard von Bingen, not necessarily in baking but most definitely in spirit.

This month's Bread Baking boniface, Astrid from Paulchen's Foodblog, chose Hildegard's Spelt bread for the Bread Baking Babes challenge. Whole grain bread tends to be heavy, both in chewing and on the stomach. This bread however, although 100% spelt, is tender, pleasant and has a wonderful flavor. If you have never worked with spelt before, this recipe is definitely worthwhile!

Here's what Astrid has to say about spelt: "Spelt is closely related to the common form of wheat and is not suitable for people with coeliac disease. Some people with an allergy or intolerance to common wheat (like me) can tolerate spelt. 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."

So who is this Hildegard? Is she a new Bread Baking Babe? No, but she might have well been the first one. According to Astrid's page, " 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."

And here is what Hildegard had to say about spelt: "The spelt is the best of grains. It is rich and nourishing and milder than other grain. It produces a strong body and healthy blood to those who eat it and it makes the spirit of man light and cheerful. If someone is ill boil some spelt, mix it with egg and this will heal him like a fine ointment.”

“Spelt is the best grain, warming, lubricating and of high nutritional value. It is better tolerated by the body than any other grain. Spelt provides the consumer with good flesh and good blood and cofers a cheerful disposition. It provides a happy mind and a joyful spirit. No matter how you eat spelt, either as a bread or in other foods, it is good and easy to digest.”

“When someone is so weakened by illness that he cannot eat, then simply take whole spelt kernels and boil them vigorously in water, add butter and egg (and a pinch of salt). This will make the food tastier and the patient will want to eat it. Give this to the patient and it will heal him from within like a good healing salve.”

I found spelt flour at Winco, in the bulk section, but had a harder time finding the spelt flakes and ended up ordering them from the local health food store. It is a Bob Red Mill's product and you will find it with the other products in the hot cereal section.

Hildegard’s Spelt Bread
This bread is a riser!!
4 cups of spelt flakes
4 cups of whole spelt flour
2 teaspoons of salt
1 scant tablespoon of active dry yeast
3/4 cup of milk, lukewarm

2 cups of water, lukewarm
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sunflowerseed oil

Mix the spelt flakes and spelt flour with the salt. Dissolve yeast in milk and let it rest until the yeast proofs, about ten minutes, then add the liquid to the dry mix. Knead a couple of times, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let rest for about 15-20 minutes.

Add the warm 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. This bread LOVES to rise, so get a big enough bowl and keep an eye on it! Knead for another 2-3 minutes.

Cut dough in 2 equal halves, roll them in the remaining spelt flakes and place each in a greased baking pan. Cover and let rise again until doubled in size.

Bake the first 15 minutes at 390°F, then lower heat to 375°F and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on a rack.


  1. wholesome bread Nicole. I love to try with splet. I haven't tried yet.

  2. Well baked!! Your bread looks lovely. Congratulations on getting it to be tender!

  3. Oh yours turned out very well too. thank you for baking as a Buddy with us this Month!