Friday, August 5, 2011

Breaking the spell(t)

Okay folks - let's talk about SUMMER. I LOVE SUMMER. For months and months of gray dreariness in Chicago winter and spring, I wait longingly for the turning of the season...for sundresses, for ice cream, for reading in the park, for wearing sunglasses...

However, in case you're unaware, this summer Chicago has experienced a nearly unbearable and prolonged explosion of heat and humidity, so much so that I can barely sleep, and our oven hasn't been used in at least 2 months. Maybe it's like this every year, and we simply forget about it while huddled in our thermal blankets in February. Either way, I love summer, and despite its sometimes icky-stickyness, I'll embrace it just to counteract the other seasons.

Anyway, the point of this soliloquy: since it's been so hot, as I mentioned, I haven't wanted to use my oven. But, when Bob's Red Mill products were on sale at Dominick's a while back,  I couldn't resist picking up some spelt flour. And if there's one thing I know about flour, it's that you use baking. After some quick online searches, I found a great recipe, and it (along with the flour) has been sitting on my counter for weeks, waiting for a cool enough day to justify using the oven. 

Today was the day my non-baking spell(t) was broken - and I'm so glad it was.

Cranberry Orange Spelt Muffins
slightly adapted from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking - makes 6 muffins and 1 loaf, or 12 muffins

1 1/4 c dried cranberries
1/2 c orange juice
1 1/4 c whole spelt flour
1 c AP flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c milk
1/4 c honey
2 large eggs
1 T olive oil
2 T fresh orange zest
1/2 c chopped walnuts
Notes: 2 medium-sized oranges will give you enough juice and zest for this recipe. You'll notice this recipe calls for an overnight rest; this is to allow the spelt flour enough time to absorb moisture from the other ingredients so it's not too dense. If overnight isn't doable, a 2-hour rest should do the job.

Microwave the orange juice on high in a heatproof bowl for about 30 seconds, then add the cranberries and cover with plastic wrap (the juice won't totally cover the cranberries; that's okay). In a large bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, AP flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, honey, eggs, oil and orange zest. Add the wet ingredients to dry, mixing just until flour is incorporated. Fold in the walnuts and cranberries/orange juice until just combined. Cover bowl and refrigerate batter overnight.

3 T unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c brown sugar
2 T rolled oats
1/4 c chopped walnuts
Mix together all the above ingredients in a small bowl until crumbly.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and remove the batter from the  refrigerator. Scoop batter into a lightly greased muffin tin (or loaf pan) until almost full, and spoon about 1 t of the streusel on top of each muffin (or spread some over the loaf).

Bake at 400 F until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean - for my tray of 6 muffins in my toaster oven, this took about 18 minutes. For the loaf pan which I did after the muffins, it was about 25 minutes - but I covered it with foil after 15 minutes.


  1. Chicago is definitely NOT like this every year! This is by far the worst since we've been here. Bring on fall!

  2. These were delicious! I will have to investigate this spelt flour you speak of. :)