This is the first time I have baked with hemp seeds, but it won’t be the last. Toasted, these are hands-down the crunchiest seeds I have ever eaten. Crunchy seeds that stay crunchy in the bread. A bowl of Rice Krispies has nothing on a slice of this bread.
And did I say delicious? So much so that since running out of the bread I’ve been eating the seeds plain, by the handful (don’t try this in the library, though). The seeds pack a nutritional punch, too, with all eight essential amino acids and high amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Industrial hemp is grown for its fibers, which are used in textiles, and for its seeds (and derivative oil), which are used for human and animal food, cosmetics, cleaning products, and industrial lubricants. The plant is a subspecies of Cannabis sativa, of which marjuana is a different subspecies. However, industrial hemp contains only a miniscule fraction of the psychoactive compound THC that marijuana has. It is legal to sell these hemp products in the US; however, DEA regulations do not permit it to be grown here. Most of the hemp seeds sold in the US are grown in Canada and Europe, which accounts for their unfortunately high price.
When I shared this bread with some of my co-workers, the hypothetical question came up: could eating hemp seeds could cause one to fail a drug test? According to my reading of consumer-oriented websites as well as available medical literature, probably not; the THC concentration in the seeds is too low. However, please do your own research and come to your own conclusion if you are likely to be in this situation any time soon. In any event, it’s probably best not to buy your hemp seeds off the back of a truck.
I made some of the dough into 250-gram boules, and used their hollowed-out shells as bowls for the Andalucían-style gazpacho I made with Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s recipe from The Splendid Table. This type of gazpacho calls for bread as an ingredient, so the scooped-out bread didn’t go to waste.
Spelt – Hemp Seed Bread
Yield: 1500 g
- Ferment spelt levain and soak soaker: 8 hours
- Mix/autolyse final dough: 35 minutes
- First fermentation : 3 hours with folds at 1 and 2 hours
- Preshape, rest, and shape: 25 minutes
- Proof: about 2 hours
- Bake: abut 40 minutes
Spelt Levain Ingredients:
- 115 g whole spelt flour
- 92 g water
- 23 g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter
- 58 g whole spelt grains
- 58 g water
Final Dough Ingredients:
- 404 g flour
- 230 g whole spelt flour
- 432 g water
- 15.2 g (2.5 t.) salt
- All of the spelt levain
- All of the soaked spelt grains, drained
- 173 g toasted hemp seeds
- Combine the spelt levain ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until just combined. Cover and ferment overnight (about 8 hours).
- At the same time combine the soaker ingredients. Cover and soak overnight, then drain the grains of excess water.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix the final dough flour, spelt flour, water, and spelt levain on low speed until just combined. Cover and let rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.
- Add the salt and continue mixing on low or medium speed until the dough reaches a medium level of gluten development.
- Add the drained spelt grains and the hemp seeds and mix in low speed just until they are evenly incorporated.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and ferment for 3 hours, with folds after the first and second hours.
- Turn the dough into a lightly floured counter. Divide into 250-gram (for small boules) or 500–750-gram pieces. Preshape them into balls and let rest, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Shape the dough into boules or batards and place them, seam-side-up, into a floured couche or linen-lined baskets.
- Proof at room temperature, covered, for about 2 hours, or until a finger pressed into the dough leaves an indentation that recovers very slowly. If your oven is not big enough to bake all the loaves at once, proof at room temperature for an hour and 15 minutes, then refrigerate.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 475F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
- Just before baking, slash the loaves as you like. A single circular slash around the loaf near the top works well for boules you wish to use as bowls.
- Once the loaves are in the oven, reduce the temperature to 450F. Bake for 8 minutes with steam, and another 20–30 minutes (depending on the size of the loaves) without steam, until the crust is a deep golden brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for another 10 minutes, with the door ajar.
- Cool on a wire rack.