One way to earn the title of dynamic learner is to spend time in the kitchen and create what looks like a war zone -and still not give up. Another way is to NOT sit on your laurels and to continue experimenting, tweaking and maybe creating your own recipes.
Tweaking comes second nature to me. As for experimenting – well – I hesitate…only because when economic conditions force you to be frugal and not waste ingredients, there is less of a desire to interfere with the recipe.
Now for creating – I won’t even go there. I don’t have formal culinary training. That means I can’t possibly come up with an original recipe that the folks at Betty Crocker or Cook’s Illustrated would bother to read.
One thing I can say though. Since I started learning bread baking from scratch, I have ventured beyond all purpose, whole wheat and bread flour. I’m also more discriminating. For example, instead of buying all purpose flour, I look for the unbleached variety (something I learned from lurking around bread forums). And when a recipe calls for all purpose but think bread flour would do better, I use bread flour. That’s what I mean by tweaking.
One fine day I felt like experimenting with a different type of flour so I purchased organic stone ground spelt flour made by LaMilanaise, a Quebec mill. You won’t find it on supermarket shelves in Montreal but Loblaws has an organic section and they carry it. People who want to buy spelt flour and don’t have a Loblaws in their area would probably need to go a specialized bakery that sell it or order it online. In fact if you ask most supermarket personnel if they have spelt flour (or farine à épeutre in French), they’ll look at you as though you just planed in from Jupiter.
The recipe on the spelt flour package was for muffins but I wanted to make spelt bread. So looked around the Web and found a really simple recipe by Rebecca Wood http://www.rwood.com/Recipes/Spelt_Bread.htm. Ms. Wood is a Julia Child Award Winning Cookbook Author. If you’ll look at the recipe on that link, there are no more than six ingredients.
1 tbsp active dry yeast (I used Fleischmann’s)
2 cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp melted butter
2 tsp sea salt
6 cups spelt flour
You can get the step-by-step procedure on the link above. There were three things I tweaked in this recipe: (a) I halved the ingredients; (b) instead of 45 minutes, I baked it for only 35 minutes; and (c) after 25 minutes, I reduced the oven temperature to 300 and baked it for another 10 minutes.
Here are the results:
To me spelt flour is similar to the taste of whole wheat, but as most bread bakers say, spelt has that unique nutty flavor. Plus it’s a lot healthier. I put a few slices into the toaster oven the next morning and ate them with blueberry jam. Delicious! I wouldn’t slather peanut butter on spelt bread – you’d miss out on that nutty flavor.
One of these days, I’ll try to make a sourdough spelt bread recipe. The only reason I’m stalling is it’s a loooooooong process, and starters intimidate me. Making a starter is like feeding an evil blob that will slither out of the fridge door and invade the house while you’re sleeping. Sorry if that offends starter enthusiasts…