Baking with Spelt
Sour and tart flavors have as much a place in our bakery kitchen as the typical sweet flavor profile. Lemon and other citrus come to mind, of course, and they have the advantage of being available year round. But every Spring and Summer my thoughts turn to rhubarb. This vegetable has a unique fruity and sweet/tart flavor that we just love in tarts, cakes and pies. This very easy sheetcake features spelt, an ancient whole grain. The rustic approach – no fussy layer cake here – makes this recipe a great choice for a breakfast or brunch. We always buy plenty of rhubarb when it is available and freeze it for later use. Simply chop and seal in zip-top freezer bags. For another spelt recipe from Roger Saul and his book, Spelt, make sure to check out his savory Oat Crackers, which feature spelt flakes as well as spelt flour, as well as our very interesting and exclusive interview.
Excerpted with permission. Spelt: Meals, Cakes, Cookies & Breads From the Good Grainby Roger Saul. Published by Duncan Baird, 2015.
A first-of-the-season fruit, rhubarb has a lovely sharp flavor. We grow it in the old-fashioned way, under terracotta cloches, which forces the stalks, making them slender, sweeter and more tender.
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 6 stalks of rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch chunks
- scant 1¼ cups sugar
- grated zest and juice of 1 orange
- 3 eggs
- 1⅓ cups white spelt flour
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon wholegrain spelt flour
- ¾ cup ground almonds
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt, plus extra for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly butter a 12 x 8-inch rectangular cake pan.
- Put the rhubarb in a large saucepan and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the orange juice, reserving the zest for the cake mixture. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Beat together the butter and remaining sugar in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, including a spoonful of the flour with each egg to prevent the batter from splitting. Add the remaining flours along with the ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt and orange zest, and blend together. Stir in the sour cream, using a large metal spoon, making a figure-of-eight motion in the batter until it is fully combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan and top with the rhubarb.
- Bake in the center of the oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the sheetcake is golden brown and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted in the center should come out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Cut into squares and serve with a spoonful of sour cream, if you like.
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