This spelt and quinoa loaf may not be much to look at with its rustic appearance and ragged crust, but what it lacks in the looks department it certainly makes up for in flavour. Not only does it slice neatly, toast well and make a great sandwich, it is also packed with numerous health benefits too.
Bread making is one of my regular weekly bakes which I thoroughly enjoy. I find the whole process really satisfying from the kneading of the dough to create something quite stretchy (which gives me a mini workout in the process) through to the bake resulting in a tasty, often good looking, loaf containing only a handful of easily sought ingredients. But let's not forget about the aroma of freshly baked bread too!
We go through what seems to be copious amounts of bread between the two of us, or rather Mr E eats a lot of bread. Sometimes I just can't keep up with him! We often need to purchase an extra loaf from the bakery counter at our local supermarket, nothing fancy. But just before Christmas I came across a speciality loaf in our local store called 'Sunflower & Quinoa Bloomer', and despite the price I bought it as a culinary treat for Mr E, after all it was almost Christmas! He adored that loaf, and it loved him back, so much so we've even pushed the boat out a couple of times since then and bought some more.
Not wanting to be made redundant on the bread-making front I decided to attempt to recreate the loaf in our own kitchen. Now, these speciality loaves, sadly, don't include an ingredient list (!) on the packaging and therefore I am unsure as to what type of flour the loaf was made from. I decided to simply go with my own instincts and have a little play to recreate the loaf; though really I should engage the tongue in my head and ask the bakers!
I decided to omit the sunflower seeds from the loaf, as I'm not fond of them in bakes, but still used a generous amount of cooked quinoa grains. Quinoa and spelt have been amongst the sexy, must use ingredients for some time. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), as most of us will have read, contains all 9 essential amino acids (those which we can't make in our bodies) and as such is classed as a complete protein, which is fabulous news for vegetarians & vegans, or those aiming to increase their meat free days. It is also gluten free. In this recipe I used the easily available white quinoa, but I'm sure that could easily be substituted for one of the many different colours of this popular seed. As for the flour, I decided to use spelt (triticum spelta) in place of our usual white & wholemeal wheat blend. Spelt, as I'm sure you know, is an ancient grain which has undergone quite a resurgence in recent years. Some people can happily enjoy products made with spelt who suffer with wheat intolerances. In fact, having read this article, spelt appears to be a healthier choice given its assistance with aiding good cholesterol levels and regulating hormones, amongst other benefits. This said, the grain does contain gluten although at a lower level than modern day wheat, and so is not suitable for those needing to follow a gluten-free diet.
Having not used spelt flour before, I was guided by Dove's white spelt loaf recipe. To make it a healthier choice I incorporated some wholemeal spelt flour too, making a 50/50 blend. Once the dough had been kneaded and was set aside to prove, I prepared the quinoa. I rinsed the seeds and then cooked them for half of the time specified on the packaging as they would be cooked further once in the loaf. (NB it also works well with bought pre-cooked quinoa). The dough was kneaded for a second time before adding the par-cooked seeds which had been drained and dried thoroughly to avoid adding extra moisture to the dough. The dough itself is lovely to work with being soft, smooth and pliable, however, due to its lower gluten content it has a tendency to expand outwards rather than upwards, therefore it's probably wise to bake the loaf in a prepared tin rather than shaped 'freestyle' and baked on a tray.
I must admit that the loaf won't win any beauty contests, what with its rustic appearance and ragged crust, but what it lacks in the looks department it certainly makes up for in flavour. It also slices neatly, toasts well and makes a great sandwich. Although it is different to the speciality loaf bought at the bread counter, it is far tastier than our usual homemade loaf and as a result has now become our new 'go-to' homemade bread not least because of the delicious flavour.
Let's get to it and bake!
Spelt & Quinoa Loaf Yum
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Time: hands on time about 20 minutes; bake time 35 - 40 minutes; plus proving and cooling time.
Adapted from: Dove's Farm White Spelt Loaf
You will need:large Mixing Bowl
Pyrex Jug (or similar)
1kg / 2lb Loaf Tin
For the Bread250g White Spelt Flour
250g Wholemeal Spelt Flour, plus a little extra for preparing the loaf tin and shaping
7g Easy Bake Dried Yeast
300ml Lukewarm Water
1tbsp Vegetable Oil
40g Raw Quinoa (or 100g ready cooked quinoa)
Little butter / margarine / vegan spread / vegetable oil
How to make it:1. Make the dough. Place the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a good sized bowl (keeping your salt & yeast separate). With your hand, combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Make a well in the centre. Add two-thirds of the lukewarm water. Use your hand to combine the dry ingredients with the wet, gradually adding the remainder of the water. Add the vegetable oil. Bring the dough together, using it to 'clean' the bowl.
2. Knead the dough. Place the dough onto a clean work surface and knead it for about 4 minutes until it is smooth and pliable.
3. Prove the dough. Place the dough into a large clean bowl and cover. Like all breads, it will develop more flavour by proving it slowly. Leave for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.
4. Prepare the quinoa. If using raw quinoa (rather than ready cooked), rinse the seeds under cold water for a couple of minutes. Cook as directed by the packet instructions, but for half the time. Once par-cooked strain the quinoa through a sieve and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Use the sieve to shake off as much excess water as you can from the quinoa. Tip the quinoa onto a few sheets of kitchen roll and dab them to remove even more moisture. Repeat with some more kitchen roll sheets. Set aside.
5. Prepare the loaf tin. Thoroughly grease the tin with a spread / oil suitable for your diet. Add 1 heaped teaspoon of wholemeal spelt flour to the tin. Move the tin around to ensure all of the greased surfaces are coated in flour. Tip out any excess flour.
6. Knead again. Uncover the dough and tip it onto a clean surface. Knead the dough again for a further 5 or 6 minutes.
7. Add the quinoa. Set aside a small handful of seeds which will be scattered on the top of the loaf. Flatten out the dough and tip the dried quinoa seeds into the middle. Carefully bring the dough back into a ball and knead again to help distribute the quinoa. Add a little more flour if you feel that the dough has become too soft.
8. Shape the dough. Liberally dust the work surface with spelt flour. Flatten the dough into an oblong or square the same length as the prepared loaf tin. Roll the dough up and place it into the tin, seam side down. Don't worry if it goes into the tin a little messy (see notes below).
9. Prove the dough for a second time. Place the tin into a clean plastic bag and set aside in a warm place for about for about 25 - 30 minutes.
10. Preheat the oven to 220 / 200Fan / Gas 7.
11. Decorate. Remove the loaf from the plastic bag and scatter the reserved quinoa seeds over the top.
12. Bake. Place on the middle shelf in the oven and bake for 35 - 40 minutes, turning the loaf around half way through.
13. Test the loaf for a thorough bake. Remove the loaf from the oven and the tin. Tap the loaf on the underside. If it sounds hollow the bread is ready; place on a cooling tray. Otherwise place it directly back in the oven, without the tin, for a few more minutes.
a) Allow the dough to prove more slowly in step 3, if possible, by leaving it in a cooler place. This helps more flavour to develop.
b) If cooking the quinoa yourself aim to get the seed as dry as possible.
c) Ideally use wholemeal spelt flour when preparing the loaf tin. I tend to find the cooked loaf has a pale shadow where it sat against the flour if I use white.
d) The dough can be difficult to shape as spelt flour has a tendency to spread outward due to its lower gluten content. If this happens with you, as it does with me, simply let the dough flow from your hands into the loaf tin. It will soon spread out filling the area available. Use your finger to try to smooth the top a little.
e) The top of the loaf is likely to look rustic, but this is part of its charm and certainly wont affect its taste.
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