Since my thyroid diagnoses I have been eating mostly a gluten-free diet. Gluten is a key disruptor of the immune system in some people. People suffering from the hypothyroid condition ‘hashimoto’s disease’ have an uncommonly high percentage of gluten sensitives among them. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system turns against the body’s own tissues.
After I withdrew the bulk of gluten loaded foods from my diet and along with implementing other immune strengthening changes, my bloods after six months are showing a big improvement and also my TSH levels are normalising, which means my body is responding well and heading in the right direction, back into balance. So by reducing my gluten intake I am helping to reduce stress on my body and bring down inflammation of my autoimmune system.
Spelt flour while it is a grain in the wheat family having the same genus, is an ancient grain and a different species, while it has a hard outer shell like wheat and does contain gluten, the gluten is different.
Spelt is becoming very popular with People cutting down on wheat based products, it is a nutritious flour, rich in vitamins and minerals, magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamin E and B-complex vitamins. It is high in protein and lower in calories than wheat flour and easier to digest than wheat.
Be aware though because Spelt does contain gluten, people with gluten allergies or celiac disease need to avoid it.
Gluten is a complex protein made from two simpler proteins called gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin gives dough its stretchiness, while glutenin its elasticity and structure to hold shape.
Wheat has a balance of the two proteins while spelt has a higher gliadin to glutenin ratio making the gluten more fragile. Because of this the dough needs less kneading, being gentle with your dough will help avoid a crumbly result.
Sensitive or not there are many benefits to eating this ancient grain, I also feel great using this ancient type of grain, there is something very grounding and earthy about it.
Spelt looks and feels a lot like barley, it has a mild and creamy, almost nutty taste. Using spelt is similar to working with whole wheat flour but is a lot lighter and because of the higher level of gliadin in it, the dough is more stretchy, meaning it can spread a lot, this is why it is better to use a tin or a casserole dish to bake the dough in, which gives it support and the external structure it needs. I have made this loaf several times now and found using a big cast iron casserole dish with a lid gives the best result.
Take time to connect and enjoy the process of making bread.
Recipe: makes one medium sized round cob
500g spelt flour
300 ml water
1 teaspoon (5g) quick yeast
1 teaspoon salt
40 ml oil (vegetable, sunflower, grapeseed, olive oil)
1. In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients together by hand.
2. Add the water and the oil and bring the mixture together by hand until you have a cohesive lump of dough.
3. Rub a little bit of oil over the dough, cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for 20 minutes.
4. Flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough by pushing it away from you with the heel of your hand, and then folding it back on itself. Do this for a couple of minutes, the dough will be noticeably smoother and slightly springier.
5. Flour the base of a heavy bottomed casserole dish, I find my cast iron one works very well.
I like to gently warm my dish before putting the dough into it to prove.
Shape the dough into a cob shape, and place in the dish. Cover and leave for an hour in a warm place.
6. After an hour lift the lid and slash the top of the loaf with a sharp knife three or four times.
7. Replace the lid and pop it in a preheated oven, 220 C / 425 F / gas mark 7. Using a casserole dish with the lid on traps the steam evaporating from the dough givings a thick chewy crust. You can remove the lid after 20 minutes.
8. Turn the oven down to 200 C / 400 F / gas mark 6 and continue to bake for another 20-30 minutes.
9. When nicely browned all over turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack.
This gives a lovely light loaf.
We enjoyed ours still warm for lunch with a warm garlic, avocado, spring onion and tomato dip with home made dressing and fresh ground black pepper and himalayan salt.
Tips I have found useful:
- Spelt dough can be quite dense, to make it softer add a tablespoon of honey to give a pliable texture and to bring out the flavour.
- To loosen the bread, add some fat, a little unsalted butter will do the job and it’s better than oil.
- Add some lightly toasted seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower to add extra texture
- as well as nutrition.