Spelt Shortbread Pastry – FODMAP & Fructose Friendly

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After discovering that I could tolerate spelt pasta, I looked into buying the flour to use in recipes in place of gluten free flours, for both price and performance reasons – although I have figured out my own gluten free flour blend, because I don’t want to push myself too much with spelt and rye flour in case I go too far. At approximately $3/lb the white spelt flour (Vita Spelt) from Amazon is much cheaper than pre-made gluten free flours, although the average of the flours that I bought to try out my own gluten free flour blend was about $2.50/lb, much better than King Arthur gluten free flour’s price of $7/lb!

After researching online, it appears that spelt tends to perform the same as wheat in most circumstances (breads might be a little tricky as spelt has different gluten than modern wheat) but a shortbread pastry shouldn’t pose a problem so I fructose friendlied up a shortbread pastry recipe from my Beechworth Bakery cookbook, Secrets of the Beechworth Bakery. My book is about ten years old, so I’m not sure what recipes are in the current edition. But if you can have spelt or are proficient at making normal recipes gluten free, I highly recommend it. If nothing else, it is an enjoyable read as the recipes are mixed up with some humorous stories.

Notes:

  1. Spelt is an ancient form of wheat, called Triticum aestivum subsp. spelta. It contains gluten, although the ratio of gliadin:glutenin is higher than that in normal wheat. It behaves in much the same way as modern wheat does in baking.
  2. Spelt contains gluten, so it is not suitable for those with coeliacs disease.
  3. Spelt does contain fructans, although less than modern wheat. It isn’t tolerated by every fructose malabsorber but there are quite a few out there, myself included luckily, who can eat it without issue in varying amounts. Unfortunately it is something you will have to test for yourself.
  4. I increased the ratio of rice flour to spelt in this recipe to lower the fructan content even more.
  5. If you can’t find white spelt flour, just buy whole spelt flour and sift out the whole grain bits.

Shortbread Pastry

Makes 80 mini tart shells that are approx. 4-5 cm in diameter.

  • 1 cup dextrose or 3/4 cup castor sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups/300 g softened unsalted butter/coconut butter
  • 3/4 cup white spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Sieve the sugar, 3/4 cup spelt flour and 1/2 cup rice flour into the bowl of your stand mixer and add in the butter, then beat on a low to medium speed until smooth.

Meanwhile, sieve the second cup each of spelt and rice flour, the xanthan gum, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl.

When the wet mixture is smooth, scrape down the edges and add in the egg. Beat on medium until it is smooth once more, before adding in the rest of the dry ingredients and mixing thoroughly for 5 minutes.

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Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour before rolling it out for use.

Preheat your oven to 190 C/375 F. Roll out the pastry dough; the thickness that you roll it out to will be determined by the diameter of your pie dish. For these mini tarts I kept it at about 3 mm thick but for a bigger tart I would probably go up to 5 mm thick. Grease your tart dish of choice and then carefully lay the pastry down.

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Blind bake the pastry (with baking paper and pie weights/uncooked rice). These small tart shells were perfect after 9 minutes in the oven but a larger tart shell might need a minute or two longer. As this is a biscuit pastry, you don’t want the shells to be completely firm when they come out of the oven or they will be like rocks when they have cooled. If they are slightly soft to the touch then they will cool down to be deliciously crumbly.

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Fill your tart shells with some delicious fillings. The photo below includes my fruit and custard, chocolate hazelnut and passion fruit blueberry fillings. The passion fruit filling is my personal favourite.

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100% Rye Bread – Suitable for Some Fructose Malabsorbers but NOT Gluten Free

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It is a constant struggle of mine (and I’m sure of other FM’ers) to find suitable bread – 99.9% of rye breads list wheat as the first ingredient and more and more gluten free breads are sweetened with agave syrup, honey or some sort of fruit juice concentrate. Gluten free bread is pretty hit and miss anyway. I thought that to combat this, I would attempt to bake my own bread.

I am no bread expert and most of the recipes for rye bread that I found online either had mostly wheat flour or they were sourdough rye and required “starters” and cultures and all sorts of confusing things. Why couldn’t I find a nice, easy no-knead rye bread recipe to share with all of you? It really couldn’t be that hard, could it?

After some searching, I found this recipe for Easy Russian Rye Bread. It seems simple enough, although I’m annoyed that it’s sweetened. Personally, I don’t get why bread needs to be sweeter and the amount of corn syrup added is much more than what is required to activate the yeast, that much I do know. So, back to the interwebs I went to find a better option.

After half an hour of browsing/reading (no kidding) I found the website Virtuous Bread; it’s all about teaching people to bake and giving back to the their community, which is pretty awesome… but what was even more awesome – selfish Natty coming out here – was their recipe for “extremely simple” rye bread. Who was I to turn this up? With only four ingredients, it is as basic as you can get. I like basic, much less margin for error. Sure, it’s not multigrain blah blah blah but it’s a place to start my bread-baking career and after this I will experiment with some new flavours/substitute in some GF flour and xanthan gum to lighten things up a bit.

Note:

  1. While studies have shown that rye may have more fructans than wheat, these chains are longer. According to Muir et al (2007), evidence suggests that “the rapidity by which fructans are fermented is related to their chain length,” in a directly proportional manner. In non-science speak: shorter chains are fermented in less time than longer chains, thus are more likely to cause or increase symptoms of FM/IBS. Furthermore, they also mention that shorter chain length, such as in wheat, are more likely to increase water retention in the colon, leading to diarrhoea-like symptoms.
  2. Please note that rye flour is not gluten free, so this recipe is NOT SAFE for those with gluten specific issues such as Coeliac disease.

100% Rye Bread

Click on the link for Virtuous Bread’s recipe.

I made a few changes:

  • I unintentionally used whole rye flour, so my bread didn’t rise as much as light rye would have.
  • I added 1/4 cup flax seeds.
  • I proofed the yeast to begin with because my yeast is the instant kind so needs this step – as far as I am aware.

Simple Rye Bread

The dough should be very wet; wetter even than this. This is normal.

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Form it gently into a log before placing it into a greased loaf pan. No tidying up (as I appear to have done here) or pushing it into the edges.

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It took about 4-5 hours to rise.

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This bread is delicious. DE-****ing-licious. I love rye and this one didn’t disappoint. It works well with sweet spreads like jams and savoury toppings, such as Vegemite, cheese, poached eggs, avocado etc.

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What I have learnt from this bread experiment:

  • Knowledgeable people are invaluable when you’re a complete novice. Jane from the Virtuous Bread website was very helpful with her emails, telling me where I might have gone wrong. More on that now…
  • Rye bread doesn’t have as much gluten as wheat, so it already doesn’t have as much potential to rise – unless you add more gluten. This is something I could do, considering I don’t have a gluten sensitivity.
  • Because rye is low gluten, you have to be very gentle with the dough as too much pressure will push out the air that was beaten in while stirring the ingredients together. Do NOT press the dough into the corners of the pan. It won’t rise much – if at all – and it will be very dense. This is what I did the first time, the photos included are from the second loaf, which did rise.
  • Learn to tell the difference between light and dark (whole) rye. Whole rye has little flecks in it, this is the rye germ, bran and endosperm. While it is much more nutritious in terms of vitamins and minerals than light rye, it will produce a denser bread. I didn’t realise I had bought whole/dark rye until after I’d made the bread twice, when I looked at the clear container in natural sunlight, rather than our dark little kitchen.
  • You can sieve whole rye to create light rye. Use the germ/bran on something like your cereal or porridge. I haven’t tried this yet but the internet says it works.
  • Know your loaf pan. I need to cook my bread for 5 mins less as I have a cast iron pan and it cooks things quickly. The crust gets too thick, otherwise.
  • Once more, know your loaf pan. This recipe requires a 1 lb loaf pan. Mine is bigger, hence the wider/longer and flatter loaf. It did rise a lot, just sideways more than up. I just can’t justify buying a second pan… stupid closet kitchen = zero space.

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What I plan to do with this knowledge:

  • Attempt a rye/wheat sourdough bread – theoretically, the fermentation that goes on with true sourdough should eliminate enough of the fructans so that a slice or two won’t trigger symptoms.
  • Attempt a rye/GF flour bread – this already won’t be gluten free, because of the rye, so I am considering adding some more gluten to assist with rising. This is all in the planning phase, I have no idea if it will actually work.
  • I want to make a pumpkin/pumpernickel bread. Just because. I will call it ‘Pumpkinickel Bread.’ This may already exist, I haven’t looked into it other than thinking that it would have an awesome name. I better make it sometime this autumn… or “fall,” really. When in Rome and all that.