It’s unlikely you’ve heard this uttered before now: I love spelt.
We made our acquaintance almost five years ago when I made the Chocolate Espresso Spelt Cake from the October 2005 edition of Gourmet (sniffle; I still get verklempt knowing that Gourmet is no more). The cake was extraordinary. The combination of chocolate and espresso was expectedly divine, but the spelt flour was a nutty, sophisticated surprise; I knew we would be friends for many recipes to come.
Spelt is something of a wundergrain, so once I did a smidge of research, my surprise was replaced with delight. Here's the scoop: spelt is an ancient whole grain native to southern Europe. It's packed with fiber, manganese and vitamin B3, and naturally higher in protein than wheat. I know, I know , but what about the taste? That's easy: yum. Spelt has a deep, nutty flavor that, when ground into flour, makes incredible baked goods.
I use spelt flour most often in a range of quick breads--pumpkin bread (one of my few ways to get 3-year-old Nick to eat a vegetable), pancakes (often with blueberries added), and muffins. Lots of muffins.
This is easily my favorite spelt muffin recipe (my husband thinks it's incredible/incredibly silly that I have MANY favorite spelt muffins. Hey, he picked me) . It's Nick's and Kevin's, too. Is there ever a time when the sweet-tart combination of maple and cranberries isn't delicious? Let me know; I've yet to find an instance. Nevertheless, tinker with the recipe to your heart's content: vary the dried fruit (or replace with toasted nuts, seeds, or a bit of chopped dark chocolate), the spices and flavorings (perhaps some cardamom or citrus zest in place of the cinnamon and vanilla) or replace the honey with an equal amount of molasses, honey, or agave nectar; you can’t go wrong.
Maple-Cranberry Spelt Muffins
You can find spelt flour at health food stores, but also in most supermarkets (that includes tiny towns, such as mine) in the health food section (you should find an alternative flour section). Once purchased, I recommend storing the spelt flour in the refrigerator (airtight bag or container) to best preserve its flavor and nutritional value.
Store the cooled muffins in an airtight bag at room temperature for 2 to 3 days; freeze any extras for up to 1 month.
Preheat oven to 425°F
12-cup muffin tin, greased
Makes 12 muffins
2-1/4 cups spelt flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl
2. Whisk the eggs, oil and vanilla in a medium bowl until blended. Whisk in the milk.
3. Mix the milk mixture into the flour mixture until just blended. Gently stir in the cranberries.
4. Divide the batter equally among the prepared muffin cups.
5. Bake 15 to 18 minutes until muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in the tins 3 minutes, then remove.