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Spelled, an ancient cereal with great properties

22 mayo, 2021

If you usually follow Directo al Paladar, you will have seen that yesterday we joined the Twitter celebration of # DíadelaEspelta, so my partner Pakus proposed a delicious bread made with this cereal flour and today I bring you some vegan cookies also made with it. But perhaps it is a grass that you have never heard of and it is unknown to you, the truth is that it is not a new ingredient, nor a hybrid product between other cereals, spelled, also called spelled, has been with us for many centuries and this time I think to stay in our kitchen.

It is apparently similar to wheat, but its official name is Triticum aestivum var. spelt, And it is considered as the origin of all current wheat varieties, but it is in the last decade when the popularity of spelled has grown dramatically thanks to the recognition of its multiple nutritional qualities and its use in gastronomy. Let’s know a little more about the history of this cereal so old, and so fashionable at the same time.


The origin of spelled is located almost 7000 years ago in Iran, extending its cultivation towards the East, so there are references to its use in Ancient Egypt and even in China, where it was also used, apart from as food, in the production of beverages such as beer.

Little by little it reached Europe through the Balkans and in the Middle Ages it was the cereal with which they made bread for the wealthiest classes, leaving rye bread destined for the poorest people. It is in the nineteenth century when the decline of spelled begins This is mainly due to the presence of a hard bark that protects the grain and requires dehulling before grinding, although its low productive yield also influenced when it was cultivated. Little by little, spelled is no longer used, being relegated to traditional elaborations in rural areas.

Cereal cultivation

At present it grows in Europe in mountainous areas of countries such as Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the latter two being its two main producers. And it is that the cultivation of spelled supports very well the cold and the lack of water, adapting to adverse climates and lands not very conducive to other cereals, it also has a high resistance to pests and diseases which avoids the use of pesticides, which is why it has been established as an ideal wheat variety for organic farming.

Nutritional benefits of spelled

Spelled is a highly energetic cereal since its main nutrients are carbohydrates, although it provides fewer calories than classic wheat flour, but stands out above all for its high content of proteins of high biological value with amino acids such as lysine, scarce in other cereals. It is also a great source of minerals and vitamins, especially from group B.

Its flour has a slightly sweet flavor with a hint reminiscent of walnut, being more soluble in water, easier to digest than wheat flour and although much poorer in gluten than other bread-making wheats, it still has gluten, making it a cereal that Celiacs should not consume it.

Although it has been observed that people who stop eating foods that contain common wheat and switch to spelled notice improvement in the case of health problems they suffered without an apparent explanation, so is being introduced as an alternative both in those who seek to vary the cereals they consume by choosing healthier options, as well as on a medical and nutritional level in diets and certain alterations.

Ways to use spelled

Normally we usually find it ground in the form of flour, but spelled also has other presentations that are equally tasty when cooking with it. When we find the ground spelled, it can be of two main types, whole and white spelled. The latter is the one from which the bran has been removed and largely replaces all-purpose wheat flour in any recipe. On the other hand, whole spelled is closer to the color and texture of common whole wheat and would be used in pastry and bakery recipes like this one, with small modifications in the quantities.

Spelt Bread

With spelled flour you can prepare fresh homemade pasta for pasta dishes and soups but also cookies, breads and other baked products. However, keep in mind it is a flour more soluble in water than that of common wheat Therefore, when we want to adapt a recipe to spelled flour, it is recommended to use three-quarters of the recommended amount of liquid, so we usually start with this amount and depending on the characteristics of the spelled that we are using, then add more liquid until the right consistency is achieved.

The gluten in spelled flour is more brittle than that of wheat flour, therefore you have to be much softer when kneading with the flour of this cereal and do not overmix or knead more, since an excess can give us a preparation with a crumbly texture.

It must be taken into account that due to this more fragile gluten structure, preparations with spelled flour they do not increase as much in size when lifting and baking like those made with common wheat flour, however the crust will be softer and smoother. It would be ideal to make breads with it that we could count on the help of sourdough and better by adding a part of strength flour to the proportion of ingredients.

The ideal thing to preserve spelled flour is to have it refrigerated, it is also advisable to buy it in a place that we know is selling this cereal and in small quantities. If we are going to consume it very quickly, we can Store in a cool, dark place in an airtight container.

Spelled grain

Finally also tell you that you can find the spelled grain, which can be cooked whole to add to our salads and other preparations, although we can also consume it in the form of germinated, where the nutrients are multiplied and also have a very pleasant sweet taste.

Now that you know a little more about this cereal, I advise you to look for it and you begin to enjoy its taste and nutritional properties. There are people who have already done it and have not returned to common wheat, and let’s hope that this time spelled is not just a fad and has come back to stay for a long time.

Images | Sidelong | Juan Antonio Capo
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