February 7th, 2010

Spelt, Honey and Walnut Bread

One of my “new years resolutions” is to bake fresh bread more often. I find it therapeutic and it actually helps me to collect my thoughts and just simply calm down and get back in touch with reality. The whole reasoning behind this is that you cannot fast track bread making, it takes as long as it takes, it’s slow with magnificent and very rewarding results. I try to apply this “method” to my life, slow things down, give it plenty of thought, a generous helping of good food and water, plenty of time, plenty of warmth and love and it’s remarkable that the end results are worth the effort and time.

I have chosen not to use a traditional loaf tin to bake my bread , instead I felt ready for a free form and shall we say a more organically shaped loaf of bread. I must admit it’s fun and you are not quite sure what the end result will look like. I’m pleased and it’s looking great, very home made indeed!

Spelt is also a grain I have been supporting for a long time now. I like the nutty flavour it gives my bread. You should remember that if you use wholemeal or spelt flours in your bread baking you need to make sure there is enough water to support the flour, it’s dry and generally absorbs a bit more than white bread flour. If the dough looks a bit sticky at the beginning, do not worry, just knead the dough and it will all come good as the gluten delveops and the flour starts absorbing the water. If there is not enough water the loaf will be heavy and it will not prove as well as you would expect.

This spelt, honey and walnut bread is not only hitting the health spots but its remarkably delicious. This recipe makes two generous loaves and as it’s freshly made with out preservatives it will not stay fresh for very long. So I sliced the remainder and froze the slices of bread for a rainy day. It’s superbly delicious with cheese and chutney or you could challenge yourself by making your very own best ever sandwich

My best ever sandwich must be the one I made with this very loaf. I could kick myself for not taking a photo of this amazing sandwich, I suppose I was more interested in getting it down the “hatch”. Anyhow the sandwich consisted of two slices of this spelt, honey and walnut bread, fairly thinly sliced; flaked roast chicken; a tablespoon of freshly made grain mustard, celeriac and apple remoulade and crisp fresh watercress. As I’m writing this recipe and reminiscing about that superbly delicious taste combination my mouth is watering and I think I’d better get baking and making again!

The challenge for today is then to think about the best  sandwich you ever made and tell me all about it. I do not mind if it’s a virtual one, go wild and feed the imagination!

  • 250g strong white flour
  • 250g spelt flour
  • 10g table salt
  • 20g fresh yeast or 7g dried yeast
  • 20g honey
  • 250ml water
  • 100g walnuts
  • 1 free range egg yolk

Place the yeast, 50g flour and the honey in a small mixing bowl and add 50g of the water, mix well, cover and leave to prove for 30 minutes in a warm spot until the mixture starts to bubble.

In the bowl of a mixer add the remaining flour, bubbling yeast mixture, walnuts, salt and the remaining water together. Attach the dough hook and mix the bread dough on slow speed for 10 minutes.

Grease a large mixing bowl. Once the dough is ready turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape the bread dough into a smooth ball. Place the smooth bread dough into the greased mixing bowl and cover the bowl with a clean dry tea towel. Leave to prove until the dough has risen to double in size.

Preheat the oven to 200°C and dust two baking sheets with flour, set aside.

Gently turn the bread dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into 2 x 420geven size dough balls.

Roll each ball into a evenly shaped smooth ball, place each ball onto the dusted floured tray and cover gently with cling film or a clean dry tea towel and leave it to prove for the second time until nearly double in size. Brush the risen bread carefully with the egg yolk and use a knife to make small cuts at the top of the risen bread.

Place the baking sheets in the preheated oven and pour 100ml of cold water directly onto the floor of the oven and shut the door quickly. The water will give a burst of steam that will help the loaves to  puff and form a lovely crust. Bake the loaves for 35 - 40 minutes, give the bread a tap at the bottom and if it sounds hollow it means the bread is cooked, place the bread onto a cooling rack dust it with white flour and leave to cool completely.

Makes 2 x 420g loaves.

Food Fanatics Tips

Wholemeal and spelt flours absorb more water so if the dough feels slightly sticky at the beginning do not panic as the water will soon be absorbed. If there is too little water  from the start your bread will be heavy and dry. Never use fast action yeast, I have had  disasters every time I have used it. I normally ask  my local supermarket for some fresh yeast, if they have it they will normally be pleased to give you a small piece for free.

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8 Comments to “Spelt, Honey and Walnut Bread”

  1. Odelle Smith says:

    Great recipe! I too share the passion for ‘spelt flour’, the nuttiness & flavour that it imparts to any bread is unbeatable. I added semi-dried apricots, sultanas & pecans to my bread & it’s a wonderful amalgamation of flavours. My best filling to have with this bread is lovely ripe Brie, Cambazola cheese with black grapes, Bartlett Pears sliced. I butter a few slices of bread and indulge myself with soft cheese eaten together with pears & grapes…..gorgeous!
    I also make wholemeal & spelt soda bread which is beautiful eaten with thick smoked bacon & eggs or goes ever so well with strawberry preserve…food at it’s best, no preservatives, a handful of bran, medium oatmeal & wheat-germ, it takes some beating in the taste department, also it’s quick, easy and never again could I possibly eat ‘bought bread’, there’s no comparison!
    Thanks for highlighting how good spelt flour is, once tasted, converted……

  2. bakies says:

    Great recipe!! I just made the bread today and it turned out delicious!! I used wholemeal flour instead of spelt flour. Love the texture of the bread especially when eaten warm.


  3. mpishiroy says:

    Good morning, I made a loaf yesterday and, basically, it was very nice. Not being very experienced at this, I found that with the initial mixing the dough was a lot drier than I anticipated and wondered if the water quantity stated was sufficient. The texture was quite fine and close, not really like the pictures shown. I used an egg yolk glaze but when cooked, the appearance was very dark so next time I shall use milk or a beaten egg. What does 50g of honey translate to in spoons ? I think cooking in a fan oven at 200 degrees for 35 mins may also have been a little too long. Helpful feedback to what I have said would be appreciated !

  4. Madalene says:

    Dear Roy,

    Thank you for your comments on this recipe.
    I’m not sure if you are located in England, if so it’s in the middle of the summer and whole grain flours, especially spelt flour require a bit more water when it’s really hot. In the winter the water content would be sufficient. I normally adjust my water content when it’s very hot, add a extra 20 – 50 ml all depends on the outside temperature and what kind of flour I’m using. White flour is normally less thirsty than whole grains. Also the age of your flour would make a difference, the older the flour the less water it contains, the fresher the flour the more it naturally contains. Bread baking is a bit of a science and no two days will you get exactly the same result, most bakers you will speak to will always say that they had to make minor adjustments every time they bake.

    I hope this does not out you off though, it’s fun and very satisfying once you understand the dough.

    Your correct about the egg yolk, it could cause the bread to become really dark, milk is a good alternative. It sound to me as if your oven is a touch hotter than mine.

    I weigh all my ingredients even water because you get a far more accurate and constant measure. 50g of honey should be equivalent to 2 tbs.

    I baked the bread in my fan electric oven at 200degrees for 35 minutes, bread should be baked at a high temperature to ensure you get a decent crust, perhaps if your oven is slightly hot you could turn it down a tad, but I recommend no lower than 190 degrees. Most bakers ovens operate at 220degrees C and what they do is flash cold water into the oven when they place the loaf inside, this helps the crust to form, nice and crispy.
    Make sure you place the bread in the middle of the oven.

    Happy Baking Roy,

    Kind Regards

  5. Am with you on the spelt, I’ve been baking spelt bread for about ten years now and the flavour is so much better than regular wholemeal bread. It’s also an easy dough to work with I find (a blessing when you bake bread often!). The only thing I do differently from your method is I let the dough sit in the fridge overnight before baking it off, the slow cold fermentation seems to add a mellowness to the bread. Great post :-)

  6. Hi Maddy, I love to grind the spelt in my Thermomix first – it only takes 2 mintes at Speed 10 and gives a wonderful extra dimension to the finished bread flavour. My best ever sandwich was homemade tikka paste (recipe in “Fast and Easy Indian Cooking”) and mayonnaise with leftover roast chicken and rocket, on homemade bread of course – my son Graham said it was the best sandwich he’d ever had!

  7. Gala says:

    Your bread looks delicious and that sandwich description made me drool….!

  8. Coco says:

    The best sandwich that I’ve ever made was with rye bread and braded Parasol mushrooms, a little bit of Dijon and mozarella.
    I’ve made sandwich and take it to the forest where I picked onother basket of mushrooms.

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