Soft wheat is generally used for pastries or quick breads. Using hard wheat would result in a hard, dense and heavy end result where soft wheat yields much lighter results. This is because the amount of protein in soft wheat is considerably less. Generally, besides the difference in protein, the two kinds of wheat contain mostly the same vitamins and minerals. And just like hard wheat, soft wheat has a very long shelf life, as long as it’s not ground or broken in any way. Once it’s ground into flour it is only good for up to three months stored in the fridge or freezer in an airtight bag or container, although the flour is best used if ground as needed so that it’s always fresh.
The taste of soft wheat is also much less “wheaty”, which is a good transition for anyone trying to make the switch from using white flours to whole grains. The soft wheat from our local community-supported agriculture grain is actually very light in color and very mild tasting, which is great for anyone who thinks they don’t like whole wheat, although you can’t always completely replace white flour for whole grains. A lot of times, baked goods will need less flour for the same amount of liquids, as the whole grains absorb more resulting in a drier and denser end product. The same amount of whole grain flour in comparison to white flour will also yield a smaller end result because whole wheat will not always rise as well as white flour.
Khorasan and spelt are other grains that are lower in gluten and are also good for using in pastries or quick breads. Khorasan actually has a lower moisture content than wheat and can last slightly longer once ground, but should still be stored in the fridge or freezer. I have found that khorasan is the best for substituting in recipes that call for all-purpose flour as the bran and germ are fairly unnoticeable once ground into flour, and the flavor is very mild. I’ve also found that spelt, while it has it’s own unique but still fairly mild flavor, is slightly harder to substitute. Usually in recipes that call for any kind of wheat flour, the amount of spelt needed is slightly more, or the amount of liquid should be slightly reduced. Some sources say to reduce the liquid by 25 per cent but I haven’t found it necessary to change it quite that much.
As mentioned, soft wheat, or grains with less gluten like khorasan and spelt are best suited to quick breads or pastries, but can also be cooked whole to use in salads, pilafs or even mixed into yeast breads as chewy whole grains or used in part as flour in yeast bread recipes.
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Spelt Banana Bread
2 C spelt flour
(add 1-2 tbsp for freshly ground flour as it’s fluffier than flour that has been sitting)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C maple syrup or honey
1/4 C flavorless oil
2 large eggs
2 C mashed bananas, or approximately 4 small
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C chopped walnuts or chocolate chips (or a mix of both — optional)
2 tbsp coarse sugar for
sprinkling over top (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a loaf pan by spraying with oil or non-stick spray and set aside.
In a small bowl mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a larger bowl, combine the well-mashed bananas with the maple syrup/honey, oil, eggs and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and mix quickly, adding the nuts or chocolate chips in the last minute of mixing. Small lumps or a little flour that is not completely combined is fine.
Pour the batter into the loaf pan and sprinkle with coarse sugar over top, if desired. Place in the oven and bake 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Remove the loaf pan from the oven and let the loaf cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before turning it out and cooling completely on a cooling rack.
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Local wheat grown by Full Circle farm in Lister can be purchased at Vital Health on 10th Avenue. Did you know that Creston is also home to Canada’s first community supported agriculture (CSA) project for grain? Local grain shares will again be available for sale at the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market starting May 5 at Millennium Park. More information can be found at www.kootenaygraincsa.ca.
Heidi Bjarnason is a Creston Valley mom and blogger. For more recipes, kid friendly ideas and food, visit Fooddoodles.com.