A “Spelt”-tacular Birthday
Today is my niece, Alexis’ birthday. Several weeks ago this sweet little thing came up to me, batting her big brown eyes, long lashes and in a soft tender voice, asked me if I would make her cupcakes for her birthday this year. Sometimes I wonder if my sister puts her up to these things. When I asked my sister, Michelle, she denied it and said that Alexis really wanted my cupcakes for her birthday. Last year was the first time I had ever made her cupcakes for her birthday and Alexis, one of the PICKIEST eaters I know, loved them. I took that as a major compliment; however, I just recently went gluten-free with my oldest son, Aiden. But how could I say no to my niece? She said please! So I agreed.
After all the research I’ve done this summer on wheat and how it affects our body, I couldn’t possibly serve cupcakes with typical all-purpose flour. It’s hard for me to use ingredients that I don’t believe in, but most importantly, serve it to the most important people in my life: Mi Familia. So I turned to spelt flour. :: internet audience gasp :: Yes, spelt. There is gluten in spelt. And because we currently are GF or more precisely, wheat-free, almost all wheat products had been dumped out of my pantry and fridge. I also used to make cupcakes on the side, but I am currently putting things on hold until we can sort this “whole” wheat thing out. … I just laughed to myself.
Before we get to the cupcakes, let me give you some education on this “father” grain.
Wheat, I am your Father—Spelt
Spelt is an ancient relative of wheat that has been cultivated for over 7,000 years and was one of the first grains EVER used to make bread. (Did you hear that? Okay, good). It was introduced to the United States in the 1890’s and by the 20th century, it had been replaced with bread wheat in almost all areas where it was grown. Spelt flour is NOT GENETICALLY MODIFIED, so it is therefore NOT SUSEPTIBLE to most of the plant diseases, funguses and other problems that plague modern wheat strains.
Spelt flour comes in two varieties: “whole spelt” and “white spelt flour.” If the label on your package says “spelt flour”, then it’s safe to say that it is whole spelt.
Flavor profile: It has a slight nutty and sweet flavor, similar to its twice removed, hybridized and overly processed counterpart, whole wheat flour. It does contain some gluten, which is why spelt is easy to substitute into all wheat-like recipes, where you will get to enjoy the flavor of spelt without compromising the texture of your baked good.
Gluten and Nutrition: Now let’s get down to brass tacks. Gluten. There is gluten in spelt, so IF YOU HAVE CELIAC’S DISEASE, OR ANY OTHER MEDICAL CONDITION THAT PROHIBITS GLUTEN, PLEASE DO NOT CONSUME.
Spelt flour is more soluble, so it is easier on your digestive system and its nutrients are absorbed into our body much easier, unlike typical wheat. Now for those who have wheat intolerances, Spelt is usually tolerable to this population due to the facts stated above. But please, consult with your doctor.
The Wheat Father makes us a nutritional offer, we can’t refuse.
Using spelt flour in place of regular wheat flour, you will get more bang for your nutrition buck, as it is higher in Vitamins B1, B6, and E, contains more unsaturated fatty acids, protein, and higher amino acid I-tryptophan—precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin = peace of mind. Literally.
Spelt flour can be substituted for all-purpose flour but there is a formula to it. Spelt requires either: less liquid OR more flour, depending on the recipe. For more information about spelt and how to change out wheat for spelt in recipes, click here.
I substituted spelt for AP flour and even threw in some GF/V cupcakes in there, too. I didn’t bother to tell anyone that I switched out the flours and I ended up getting some rave reviews. Some family members just ate them without saying a word, which was the biggest compliment of all. Why? The most important review was, of course, the birthday girl. And as you can see, it was Princess approved.
Golden Vanilla Spelt Cake (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
*This recipe has already reduced the liquids by 10% due to the use of spelt.
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 1/4 cups spelt flour (Bob’s Red Mill is awesome)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp. almond milk, at room temperature (or regular milk)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350°F if using a light colored pan or 325°F if using a dark colored pan. Lightly grease and flour your choice of pan(s): one 9″ x 13″ pan, two 9″ round cake pans, three 8″ round pans, or the wells of two muffin tins (24 muffin cups). You can also line the muffin tins with papers, and spray the insides of the papers.
1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.
2) Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer at low speed, until the mixture looks sandy.
3) Combine the milk and vanilla and add, all at once. Mix at low speed for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds.
4) Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.
5) With the mixer running at low speed, add 1 egg. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds.
6) Repeat this procedure with the second egg. Continue adding the eggs, scraping after each addition, until all 4 are added.
7) After the last egg is added, scrape the bowl once more, then beat at medium-high speed for 30 more seconds.
8) Transfer the batter to the pans of your choice. For layers, divide the batter among the pans. Smooth out the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a tablespoon.
For cupcakes, scoop by heaping 1/4-cupfuls into the prepared muffin tins.
9) Bake for 40 minutes for a 9″ x 13″ pan; 27 minutes for 9″ layers; 24 minutes for 8″ layers, or 23 to 25 minutes for cupcakes.
10. The cake is done when it’s golden brown around the edges and just beginning to pull away from the edge of the pan. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.
11) Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool before removing it from the pan.