As if the middle classes didn’t have enough to worry about already – what with
shrinking pension pots, children who refuse to fly the nest and a
‘hidden’ 60 per cent tax rate, as revealed by the Telegraph – there’s a
new crisis on the way: the spelt flour shortage.
The ancient grain that has become fashionable among artisan bread-fanciers as
a gluten-free alternative to wheat has been decimated by another poor
harvest. The price of spelt flour, which doubled last year thanks to
dwindling supplies and a surge in the grain’s popularity in recent years, is
now expected to rise even further, forcing artisanal bakers to stop making
The cost of spelt – organic, naturally – has risen from £800 per tonne to
almost £2,000 in the past year alone. Producers are now worried about the
availabilty of the protein-rich grain – which was fed to Roman soldiers to
keep them marching across Europe – that spelt products could soon disappear
from bakers’ shelves and farmers markets altogether.
But, as Emperor Caesar himself might have declared, fear ye not. There are
other low-GI, fibre-rich and coeliac-friendly wheat alternatives to which
lovers of a spelt loaf may turn.
Here, Alice Audley takes a rye look (sorry…) at other flours that will help
you beat the looming spelt crisis.
Dating back to the Iron Age, barley bread is made from the flour of the grain
of the barley plant. With crunchy edges, a dense interior and a wholesome
nutty flavour, barley bread works well both accompanying stews, or on its
Closely related to barley, rye is a grass that is grown extensively across the
UK. The grain is used to make a plethora of treats: beer, whiskey and vodka.
Rye bread is a heavy, packed with flavour and works particularly well with
Popular in the Mediterranean, chestnut bread has a sweet, strong and smoky
flavour. Flour for this hearty bread, which works well with anything from
salad to soup and keeps fresh for up to a fortnight, is milled from dried
A staple of East African cuisine, the gluten-free grain similar to millet
makes for a fine dark-brown flour that’s used to make injera, a traditional
Ethiopian bread. High in protein, calcium, and iron, it also has an
excellent balance of amino acids, which makes it popular with vegetarians.
A white flour made from ground potatoes that have been freeze-dried in the
chilly open-air of the Andes. Widely used in Peru and Bolivia to make
desserts and added to soups and drinks, rather than risen loaves, but when
the spelt runs out, needs must…
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