Spelt, an ancient grain and distant cousin to wheat, has a nutty, slightly sweet flavour and contains a variety of beneficial nutrients. It offers more protein than traditional wheat, not to mention fibre, phytonutrients, B vitamins, and key minerals like iron.
The best part about this grain is that it’s often better tolerated by those with gluten/wheat sensitivities (though spelt does contain gluten, so those with celiac disease steer clear).
You’ll most often see it sold as a whole grain or used in place of wheat in things like bread, pizza dough, and pasta. Spelt flour doesn’t quite convert one-to-one, although it's pretty darn close, making it a very good substitute.
Perfectly textured, with their signature air pockets and just the right amount of chew, these cornmeal-dusted biscuits make a delightful snack. (Half for breakfast with your green smoothie and half as a snack later in the day.)
Amp up the protein with a slather of nut or seed butter, or for a decadent (but still good-for-you) treat, try grass-fed butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
Spelt English Muffins
All good things take time, and these English muffins are no exception. But when you’re done, you’ll have enough to last for 2 weeks. Trust us, it’s worth it.
½ cup light spelt flour
¼ cup of water
¼ tsp of instant dry yeast
2 tsp of honey
1½ cup of lukewarm water
¾ tsp of instant dry yeast
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
1½ tsp of sea salt
3 cups of light spelt flour + ½ to 1 cup more + more for dusting
Coarse cornmeal for scattering
Ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil, for cooking the muffins
The Night/Day Before, Make the Biga
Combine the flour, water, yeast, and honey in a bowl to make a sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. The biga will rise slightly.
The Day Of
To make the English muffins: In a stand-mixer with paddle-attachment, mix the biga, water, instant dry yeast, extra-virgin olive oil, and sea salt until the biga is completely mixed into the liquid. Add 3 cups of flour and mix to form a dough that’s still tacky and DOES NOT pull away cleanly from the bowl while mixing. Stop and cover the dough with plastic wrap. Let stand for 20 minutes.
After the 20 minutes are up, mix in enough of the remaining 1 cup of flour to make a “soft dough that barely cleans the mixer bowl”. (Periodically pull the dough that has crawled up the hook back down into the mixture.) This is where you have to use your best kitchen intuition. The dough should pull away cleanly from the mixer bowl on high speed, but will stick slightly on the sides and bottom of the bowl when it is mixed on low speed.
Replace the paddle attachment with a dough-hook and continue to mix on medium-low speed for 8-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. The dough should still feel a bit sticky to the touch, but not actually stick to the work surface.
Shape the dough into a ball and put it into a large, lightly oiled bowl.
Turn the dough around inside the bowl to coat it with oil and finish with the smooth side facing up. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand in a warm place to proof until doubled in volume, about 2-3 hours depending on the temperature of your place. To develop more flavour from your dough, you may also place it in the fridge for 8-12 hours and then let it come to room temperature again for 1 more hour before proceeding with the next step.
Once doubled, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 14 equal portions. (Pro tip: A dough scraper and bench scraper are really amazing tools for making bread. They will make things a lot easier.)
Roll the pieces into balls and shape the balls into flat rounds. Continue to sprinkle a little flour as needed if the dough tends to stick.
Scatter coarse cornmeal evenly across 2 large baking pans and arrange the dough rounds on it, leaving about 2 inches of space in between. Scatter more cornmeal on top of the rounds. Turn to coat both sides evenly.
Loosely cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and let the dough rounds proof again in a warm place until they increase in volume by half (50%, not doubled), over about 1 – 1.5 hours. To test the dough’s readiness, press your finger into the dough and watch the dent. If it does NOT spring back up immediately, the dough is ready.
Heat a large heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat and melt enough coconut oil or ghee to form a thin layer over the skillet. Carefully, using a large, wide spatula, transfer the dough rounds onto the pan. Leave enough space so that the rounds won’t touch each other and they’ll be easy to flip.
Continue to adjust your heat so that the muffins brown but do not burn, about 6 minutes per side. Add more coconut oil or ghee as needed when you flip. The English muffins should puff up during cooking and be a nice golden brown on each side.
Before starting a new batch of muffins on the skillet, wipe out most of the cornmeal with a paper towel so that they don’t burn.
Place the English muffins on a cooling rack lined with paper towel. Let them sit for 30 minutes before eating. They still need time for the residual heat to finish off the cooking.
These English muffins are best eaten sliced open and toasted before serving. They’ll also keep well in the freezer, cut in half, for up to a month in a freezer bag.