Spelt is not gluten-free, but its gluten acts differently than other wheat flours. It feels slightly sandier and it does not absorb as much water as regular wheat flour. Some say it tastes slightly sweet. To see how well it performed in a simple recipe, I decided to make biscotti. I would keep the flavors simple so I’d really be able to taste the spelt and assess how to better use it down the road. My biscotti recipe is more like a snack than a decadent treat. It’s perfect with a cup of tea as an afternoon pick-me-up (or a midmorning snack), but it’s not quite sweet enough for dessert. It works with multiple combinations of flavorings, nuts, and flours (pepitas and lime zest are good add-ins), so trying it with spelt flour seemed to make sense.
Refrigerating the dough overnight allows the spelt flour time to absorb liquid from the eggs and makes the dough much easier to handle. To boost the almond flavor, add almond extract. And to really go Italian, add a teaspoon of fennel seeds.
Almond Spelt Biscotti
Makes more than 50 biscotti
- 100 grams /1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
- 290 grams / 2 cups whole-grain spelt flour, plus more for dusting
- 25 grams / 1/2 cup almond meal
- 4 grams / 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 grams / 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 113 grams / 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 170 grams / 1 cup packed light muscovado or light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or almond extract
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- Coarse sugar for coating, such as demerara
Heat an oven to 350°F. Spread the almonds onto a rimmed baking sheet and toast until they are lightly fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, almond meal, salt, and baking powder.
Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat briefly to soften. Add the sugar and beat until creamy and light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
Beat in the eggs one at a time briefly. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix briefly until the dough comes together. Mix in the almonds. Put the dough in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight to allow the flours to hydrate; this reduces the dough’s stickiness, although the dough will still be stickier than biscotti made with all-purpose flour.
Heat an oven to 350°F. Line a half sheet (13 by 18-inch) pan with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a surface lightly dusted with flour and divide it in half. Roll each half into a 12-inch log, ensuring that the outside of each log is lightly coated in the coarse sugar. Place the logs onto the sheet pan and gently flatten so that each is about 2 inches wide.
Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for 15 to 20 more minutes or until the tops of the logs are fairly firm and the bottoms are golden brown. Cool to a warm room temperature on the sheet pan, 20 to 30 minutes.
Lower the oven to 325°F. Use a sharp serrated knife, slice off the ends (I eat them as a snack) and cut the logs crosswise into biscotti about 1/2 inch-thick each. Divide the slices between two sheet pans.
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and quickly flip over the biscotti. (If your fingers are sensitive, you may want to use an small offset spatula to help you flip the pieces over.)
Bake for 10 to 15 more minutes or until the biscotti are a deep golden brown on top. Let cool completely on the baking sheet. When stored in an airtight tin, the biscotti will keep for 2 weeks. If they soften, put them back in the oven to refresh them.