Flour is the main ingredient of bread, which is regularly consumed by many people all over the world. Two of the most common types of flour are spelt and wheat flour. Both are very similar in many functional aspects in baking, which is why they can be interchanged in most recipes. Spelt and wheat flour are, however, different in terms of composition, amount of nutrients, the taste of the resulting products, and the manner by which they are prepared.
Both spelt and wheat flour contain gluten, a type of protein that gives dough its cohesiveness and which can become a problem for people who have gluten intolerance, unless the amount is small enough so as not to induce an allergic reaction. The protein contents of spelt flour are higher, although its gluten contents are low – perfect for the bread-loving gluten intolerant people. The caloric content of spelt flour is less than that of wheat flour, making spelt flour the preferred choice for diet-conscious people. Wheat flour, on the other hand, contains more fiber that makes it easier to digest. The gluten in wheat flour is more flexible and thus capable of withstanding over-kneading, which may give bread a rough texture.
The vitamin and mineral contents of spelt and wheat flour are almost the same, with slight differences in amount. Spelt flour contains more niacin, or vitamin B3, which helps improve blood circulation and induce a healthier skin. It also has more potassium, a mineral that boosts proper cell functioning. Wheat flour, on the other hand, contains more calcium, a mineral that helps maintain strong bones and teeth. It also contains more folate, a vitamin that assists in the production of new cells.
Bread products made from spelt flour taste nutty, which many people seem to prefer. Those made from wheat flour have a somewhat earthy taste. Wheat flour, however, is more commonly used, particularly in the United States, although spelt is also recognized as a good alternative.
Less moisture is required to bring the dough of spelt flour to the right consistency because spelt is more water-soluble than wheat flour. Unlike wheat flour, spelt flour contains gluten that can be easily destroyed, thus the baker has to be careful not to over-knead the dough. This characteristic may cause the bread dough to rise more slowly and not as high as the one made from wheat flour. With these differences between spelt and wheat flour, the choice of raw material for baking will depend on the consumer’s nutritional needs and taste preference.