Monday, 30 December 2013

Soft Spelt Pretzels

The Back to the Future, Buddies traveled way back this month to make soft pretzels. I missed these pretzels when the Bread Baking Babes (BBBs) made them in 2011 so I was glad Carola chose them this month.


Pretzels have a unique history. Also known as Pretiola (little reward) in Latin, they are said to have been invented by monks around 610 AD to reward their students for memorizing bible verses.

Pretiola’s were made out of bread dough scraps and shaped to represent a child’s folded arms in prayer. Supposedly, the three holes represented the Christian Trinity. Some sources claim that pretzels originated in a monastery near Northern Italy or Southern France, but other sources say they were invented by a German Monk.

Whether it’s Pretiola (Latin), Brachiola (Italian), or Bretzel (German), a pretzel by any other name still smells as sweet (or doughy, rather) and tastes as good.


I’m not certain what type of flour would’ve been used in 610 AD to make pretzels, but I’m guessing it wouldn’t have been the commercial white flour we have today.

These days, pretzels can be made with many different types of flour so I decided to use a mixture of all-purpose and whole grain spelt flours. I also tried Carola’s suggestion and added ground flax seed meal. To top things off, I sprinkled the tops with black sesame seeds and a little bit of kosher salt.


Soft Spelt Pretzels

Original recipe from MyRecipes:
My version is adapted from:



YIELD: 12 servings (serving size: 1 pretzel)



Pretzel Dough:

  • 300 g all-purpose spelt flour (I used VitaSpelt)
  • 120 g whole grain spelt flour (VitaSpelt)
  • 40 g ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Pretzel Bath:

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/2 to 2 T baking soda

Glaze and Toppings:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tsp. water
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, optional for sprinkling
  • Black sesame or poppy seeds for sprinkling


1) Add the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir with a wire whisk to incorporate.  Gradually add in the water until it forms a soft dough.

2) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead until it is smooth and elastic. The dough will feel slightly sticky. Don’t over knead it if you are using spelt.


3) Place dough in a clean bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top.


4) Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place (85° F.), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes.


5) Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Cover the dough prevent drying. Working with one portion at a time, roll each portion into an 18-inch-long rope with tapered ends. Cross one end of rope over the other to form a circle, leaving about 4 inches at end of each rope. Twist the rope at the base of the circle. Fold the ends over the circle and into a traditional pretzel shape, pinching gently to seal.

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6) Place pretzels on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or sprayed lightly with cooking spray). Cover and let rise 10 minutes (pretzels will rise slightly).

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7) Preheat oven to 425° F.

8) Combine 6 cups water and baking soda in a non-aluminum Dutch oven or pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer.

9) Gently lower 1 pretzel (or more if the pot is larger) into simmering water mixture; cook 15 seconds. Turn pretzel with a slotted spatula; cook an additional 15 seconds. Transfer pretzel to a wire rack coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining pretzels.

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10) Place pretzels back on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Combine 1 teaspoon water and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a fork until smooth. Brush a thin layer of egg mixture over pretzels; sprinkle with kosher salt and/or seeds. I sprinkled mine with kosher salt and black sesame seeds.

11) Bake at 425° for 10 to 12 minutes or until pretzels are deep golden brown.

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12) Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  



These pretzels have a slightly earthy flavor due to the ground flaxseed and spelt.  They tasted good warm with butter.  They would probably taste really good with spicy brown mustard but I didn’t have any.  They could also use more kosher salt. I sprinkled it lightly, but if I make these again, I will add more.


Happy Baking!



Back to the Future, Buddies



Saturday, 28 December 2013

Make-Ahead Honey Spelt Rolls

I enjoy making different types of breads and rolls with spelt flour.  I’ve had many successes, but some duds as well.


One of my less than glorious attempts at utilizing spelt in a recipe happened on Thanksgiving Day. I converted my favorite yeast roll recipe to spelt sourdough and used all-purpose spelt flour instead of bread flour.

This turned out to be a bit too many changes at one time. The rolls tasted pretty good but the texture was more like a hard biscuit than a fluffy roll. I think the dough fermented too long.  No one complained because we had plenty of food, but this was not the texture I was looking for.

I redeemed myself when I made Spelt Dinner Rolls for Christmas Dinner.  I served them to my son’s girlfriend’s family so I was doubly pleased that they turned out.  They were definitely not duds. They received the thumbs up from everyone that tried them. 



These rolls are super easy! The dough can be made ahead of time and frozen. This worked out perfect for my schedule. I went out of town for a couple of days so I was able to make the dough the day before, freeze it and transport it with me on the two-and-a-half-hour drive.  The rolls were just starting to unfreeze when I got to my destination so I put them back in the freezer to rest overnight.

On Christmas Day, I took the rolls out of the freezer and let them warm up a bit.  Then I reshaped them and placed them in a muffin tin to bake. I transported them again during the final proof and baked them once I got to the host kitchen.

Everyone waited with baited breath for the rolls to bake and I’m happy to say they did not disappoint.  They were fluffy and yummy.


Make-Ahead Honey Spelt Rolls

Adapted from: Taste of the South’s Make-Ahead Honey Wheat Rolls

Makes: 2 Dozen Rolls


  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose spelt flour
  • 2 cups whole grain spelt flour
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • scant 1/3 cup honey
  • scant 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups warm water (100° to 115°)



I think these rolls could be made by hand very easily, but I was pressed for time so I opted to use my stand mixer.

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flours, yeast, salt, and sugar using a wire whisk or wooden spoon.

2. Add the honey and oil and gradually add in the warm water. Using the dough hook, beat at medium speed until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Spelt does better if you don’t over mix it.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead it until it is soft and supple. Place the dough in a large bowl; spray with nonstick cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover, and let rise in a warm place, until doubled in size, about 1 hour.


4. Punch the dough down. Cover large baking sheets with parchment paper or wax paper, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Divide dough into 24 portions. With lightly floured hands, shape each portion of dough into a ball. Place dough balls on prepared baking sheets 1 inch apart. Cover and freeze until firm. Remove dough balls from baking sheets; place in resealable freezer bags. Seal bags, and freeze. (Dough is best if used within 2 months.)


5. To bake frozen dough, remove dough balls from freezer. Place each dough ball in a muffin cup coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover with a dish towel, and let rise in a warm place (85° F.), until doubled in size, about 1 to 1½ hours. I only had 1 muffin tin with me so I baked half in the muffin tin and the other half on a baking sheet.  They both looked and tasted great.


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6. Preheat oven to 350° F.. Uncover dough; bake until golden brown, 17 to 20 minutes. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

7. To bake rolls on the same day you make the dough, place dough in muffin cups coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover, and let rise in a warm place (85° F.), until doubled in size, 35 to 40 minutes. Uncover; bake at 350° F. until golden brown, 17 to 20 minutes. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes. Remove from pans, and serve warm or let cool completely on a wire rack.



These rolls were special because they were made with Spelt but also because I used Roman olive oil, the same oil my youngest son brought back with him from Rome. I’m sure they would taste good with any olive oil, but they were particularly delicious and memorable because I included his olive oil.


I’m sharing these rolls with:

BYOB - Il Cestino del Pane


Happy Baking!


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Modern Lardy Cake Crown

Lardy Cake is an English tea bread made with a soft, enriched dough and filled with sugar, spices and dried fruit. It is also referred to as lardy bread, lardy Johns, and fourses cake, depending on the region. Lardy cake, according to a number of sources, originated from Wiltshire, in the south west region of the UK. Fourses cake and Lardy Johns are from Sussex.

Modern Lardy Cake Crown

Lien (Notitie van Lien’s) chose Lardy Cake as the December bread for the Bread Baking Babes (BBBs) and Buddies. This tea bread is traditionally made with lard, but Lien found a more modern version made with butter. 

The instructions were a bit perplexing so I did some research to make sure I understood how to fold and shape the dough. Lien’s description of caramelized sugar oozing out of the dough appealed to me, but I couldn’t quite get the picture of the folding. The perfectionist got the better of me so I went in search of more information.

As I was searching for the origins and instructions on how to make this bread, I happened upon Paul Hollywoods’s Lardy Cakes on the BBC. One version is made the traditional way using lard.  I really liked his instructions for incorporating the filling and folding the dough. I almost made that lardy cake (with butter not lard) until I saw his other version. This version is twisted to form a crown. The crown shape did it for me.

Modern Lardy Cake Crown Crumb Shot


This Lardy Cake Crown is just lovely and would make a wonderful presentation for any table.  It tastes especially good with coffee or tea for breakfast or afternoon, or both.


Modern Lardy Cake Crown

Adapted from: (“Warm Bread and Honey Cake” by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra) & Lardy Cake Crown by Paul Hollywood

Makes: One Loaf


  • 375 g bread flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 T raw sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 35 g (2 1/2 T) butter, melted and cooled
  • ± 200 ml almond milk, warmed


  • 85 g (6 T) butter, softened
  • 75 g soft dark brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon (or a pinch more)
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (or a pinch more)
  • 75 g currants or raisins (or a mix of dried fruit)

Equipment: I used a tube pan to bake this bread. You can also use an 8-inch round springform pan. I recommend placing a baking sheet underneath the pan or lining it with parchment paper, otherwise the caramelized sugar oozes out the bottom. Ask me how I know.


I made this dough by hand, but you can use a stand mixer if you prefer.

1. Whisk together the dry dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and warm milk and mix with a Danish dough whisk or a large wooden spoon until the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and supple. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a clean bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This could take anywhere from 2 – 4 hours depending on the temperature in your kitchen.

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3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and press it out flat with your fingers, then using a rolling pin, roll it out to a rectangle, about 20x8in.

4. Brush the softened butter over two thirds of the dough. Sprinkle the sugar over the butter, then cover the sugar with the raisins or dried fruit. Fold the uncovered section over to the center of the dough, then fold the other third on top.

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5. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle.  Then roll the dough into a long log, starting at the long edge furthest away from you. Cut down the entire length of the log to form two long strips and reveal the fruit inside.   

6. Hold the pieces at each end and twist tightly together, moving your hands in opposite directions. I didn’t quite get this part so I formed a 2-strand braid instead of twisting it.

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7. Coil the twisted dough together into a circle and press the ends firmly together. Place the crown into the prepared pan. Let it proof until it reaches the top of the pan. This will take approximately 1½ hours. The dough will reach the top of the pan if you use an 8in springform pan. I used a large tube pan so it didn’t reach the top of the pan, but it was doubled in size.

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8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and grease a tube pan or an 8in springform pan with butter. Place the tube pan or the springform pan on top of a rimmed baking sheet to keep all of the yummy caramelized sugar from leaking on the oven floor.  Trust me on this one.

9. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden-brown. 

10. Remove loaf to a wire rack to cool.


Many thanks to Lien for choosing Lardy Cake for the BBBs and Buddies to bake this month. It’s a delightful bread and not really hard to make once you understand the instructions. I went shopping while it was proofing so the timing worked out great.

BBBuddies dec 13


This loaf has also been Yeastspotted.


Happy Baking!


Friday, 20 December 2013

Easy Cheesy Sourdough Spelt Popovers

These Cheesy Sourdough Spelt Popovers turned out to be pleasant surprise. 

Cheesy Sourdough Spelt Popovers

We were charged with making sourdough popovers this month for the Sourdough Surprises baking group. I wasn’t sure if I would have time to participate until I found out how easy they are to make.

If you are looking for a savory roll recipe that’s easy to make during this busy season, might I suggest these sourdough popovers?  They don’t require any special equipment and they can be made in about 45 minutes from start-to-eating. 

These popovers have good texture and taste.  The parmesan and pepper provide a nice burst of  flavor without overpowering the essence of the roll. Serve these popovers for dinner along with your favorite meal or enjoy them for breakfast for a savory alternative to sweet rolls or muffins.


Cheesy Sourdough Spelt Popovers

Note: These popovers are made with sourdough and spelt so they have a different texture than popovers made with regular white bread flour.  They are yummy nonetheless. 

Inspired and Adapted from:

Makes: 6 Popovers


  • 1 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sourdough Spelt starter, fed or unfed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
  • 1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup All-Purpose White Spelt Flour



1) Warm the milk until it feels just slightly warm to the touch.

2) Combine the warm milk with the eggs, sourdough starter and salt, crushed pepper and parmesan, then mix in the flour. Don't over-mix; a few small lumps will be fine. The batter should be thinner than a pancake batter, about the consistency of heavy cream.


3) Heat a muffin or popover pan in the oven while it's preheating to 450°F.

4) Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven, and spray it thoroughly with non-stick pan spray, or brush it generously with oil or melted butter. Quickly pour the batter into the cups, filling them almost to the top. If you're using a muffin tin, fill cups all the way to the top. Space the popovers around so there are empty cups among the full ones; this leaves more room for expansion.


5) Bake the popovers for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until popovers are golden brown.


6) Remove the popovers from the oven and serve immediately.



These popovers are so easy, they are a good fuss-free bread to serve for a Holiday Dinner or a weeknight meal during the Holidays. 


Happy Baking!




Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Spelt & Rye Loaves with Cranberries & Walnuts

The bread of the month (BOM) for the Artisan Bread Bakers is an adaptation of one of Jeffrey Hammelman’s breads. The BOM version includes raisins and hazelnuts, but I didn’t have any hazelnuts so I used walnuts. I really enjoy cranberries and walnuts together in bread so I also substituted craisins for the raisins.



I’ve made white breads and mixed grain loaves with cranberries and walnuts before, and I really enjoy them but this time, I wanted to change things up a bit. I used all-purpose spelt instead of bread flour and whole grain spelt instead of whole wheat flour. I also added about10% home-milled rye flour to round out the flavor.

For this experiment, I had the opportunity to taste test VitaSpelt Whole Spelt Flour. Purity Foods graciously sent me some samples of their whole grain flour and Spelt Berries to bake with. I already use (and enjoy) their all-purpose white Spelt so I was only to happy to try some of their other products.



Spelt & Rye Loaves with Cranberries & Walnuts

Adapted from: Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hammelman.

Makes: 2 Loaves

Ingredients Weight/Volume Baker’s %
All-Purpose White Spelt Flour 475 g 52%
All-Purpose Whole Grain Spelt Flour 343 g 38%
Whole Grain Rye Flour 90 g 10%
Water, lukewarm 555 g 61%
Salt 17 g (~1 T) 2%
Yeast 4 g
Walnuts, roasted & coarsely chopped 136 g (1 cup) 15%
Craisins 136 g (scant cup) 15%



1. Place the craisins in a glass or bowl and cover them with boiling water (do not discard the water). Soak the craisins for 15 to 20 minutes.

2. In the meantime, roast the walnuts in a pan on top of the stove until golden and fragrant. Roughly chop the nuts.

3. Drain the craisins. Reserve the craisin water for use in the dough. You will need to add more water.

Note: Because I used Spelt, I used less water than the original formula. I ended up with about 110 g of water when I drained the craisins. I reserved this amount in a separate measuring cup.  Then I measured out 471 g of additional water in a different measuring cup.  I used all but about 26 g of the water I had measured for a total of 555 g. You may need more or less water depending on the type of flour used.

4. Add the flours, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Combine with a dough whisk. 

5. Add the water gradually while mixing on first speed to incorporate the dough.  Mix for three minutes on first speed, then increase to second speed and mix for an additional three minutes.

6. Since Spelt is picky about being over mixed, I incorporated the nuts and raisins by hand.  If you are using bread flour and whole wheat flour, you can use the stand mixer to incorporate the nuts and raisins.

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7. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and allow to ferment for two hours, folding the dough after one hour.

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8. Shape into round or oblong loaves and proof for 70 minutes. I shaped one oval and one round loaf.

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9. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. about 30-45 minutes before you plan to bake the bread. Place a baking stone on the bottom rack and a steam pan underneath or a cast iron skillet on the top shelf while the oven is preheating.

10. Carefully remove the proofed loaves from the bannetons (onto parchment paper or a baking peel). Score the loaves using the pattern of your choice. I used different scoring patterns and lames for each loaf. I used a straight-scoring lame on the round loaf and a curved lame on the oval loaf.

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11. Slide the loaves (on the parchment paper) onto the preheated baking stone.  Add hot water to the steam pan or 3 or 4 ice cubes to the cast iron skillet.  Spritz the walls of the oven with water.  Immediately close the door.

Bake the loaves for about 35 minutes. The breads might darken fast due to the craisin water, so watch them closely and reduce oven temp if necessary.

12. Remove the loaves to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.

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These loaves are slightly nutty and chewy and very flavorful. The bread tastes great warm with butter or toasted for breakfast or a snack.

I enjoyed baking with the VitaSpelt from Purity Foods. I appreciate the opportunity to test it and look forward to experimenting with it some more. 


Happy Baking!