Dairy free // Nut free // Low FODMAPs // Vegan // Vegetarian
It’s no secret that I’m a foodie. I love carbs the way some people love their favourite footy team. To me, life without doughy lovely things would be a much duller existence.
However…bready delicious foods don’t always love me back! Since high school, wheat leaves me doubled over in stomach cramps, barely able to walk. I have spent many a dark hour parked by the side of a road after eating Italian food with friends, unable to drive myself home.
After studying dietetics and doing a low FODMAPs elimination diet (with careful medical screening and colonoscopy, of course), I discovered that the root of my problem wasn’t gluten but rather fructan – an oligosaccharide found in wheat and therefore bread. In the intervening seven years, carefully retesting my tolerance levels and doing a LOT of gut-fortifying work with fermented foods and probiotics, I find my threshold is much better these days.
That said, it’s still a roll of the dice whether eating a bakery delight – such as a vegemite cheesy scroll – will leave me happily satiated in my post-carb coma or crawling across the kitchen floor to get a buscopan from the medical cabinet.
As a lover of bread and passionate cook, I’ve spent years experimenting with different flours to replicate the doughy goodness that I love and adore, without inducing the typical belly ache. The closest replacement I’ve been able to find is spelt flour. Spelt is the ancient unhybridised version of wheat, offering a similar flavour and texture but yet is low in Fodmaps. I liken it to cooking with a wholemeal wheat flour, although these days you can get refined white spelt flours which are virtually impossible to distinguish from plain white wheat flour.
These spelt scrolls have the added benefit to my tummy of having a sourdough base. Although I’ve still added yeast for expediency, the 1 cup of starter culture contains beneficial acids like propionate, butyrate and acetate, which have excellent gut health properties. The fermentation process also breaks down some of the carbohydrate in the spelt flour, making it easier to digest. (Even after it’s been cooked.)
So here’s how it’s done. First, you’ve got to make a starter culture.
How to make a sourdough starter culture
A few notes about starting your sourdough culture:
· Sterilise your jar & utensils with a ‘boiling water rinse’ (wear gloves and don’t burn yourself!) before starting or make sure all equipment has been through a high-temp clean in your dishwasher.
· Use filtered water if possible – tap water contains chlorine, which isn’t favourable for the good bacteria in your sourdough culture to grow.
· Use unbleached, organic, plain flours where possible – again, bleached flours do not always culture so well.
· Use glass jars if possible (more hygienic) but plastic is an okay alternative. Don’t try to ferment in a non-stick or metal container.
DAY ONE TO START:
o Place 2/3C of plain organic spelt flour, 1/3C rye flour and 1C filtered water into a sterilised jar.
o Mix with a whisk or fork.
o Clean down sides.
o Cover with muslin cloth and set at room temperature for 24 hours.
DAY TWO. After 24 hours:
o Your culture should have a few bubbles a smell a little tangy (kinda like a yoghurt tang).
o Add 2/3C plain spelt flour & 2/3C of filtered water and mix into your culture to ‘feed it’. This takes out a lot of the bubbles and you will be left with a batter-like brew.
o Clean down sides.
o Cover with muslin and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
DAY THREE: After another 24 hours (i.e. 48 hours AFTER you started your culture)
o Repeat the ‘feeding’ steps.
o You can refrigerate if you don’t intend to use for a few days (feed and leave for 24 hours before using)
o Leave at room temperature if you intend to use the culture within 24 hours.
o Feed every time you use it or at least weekly.
I have friends who keep their sourdough starter in fridge for month, then feed once before using again. This has never worked for me! Perhaps this is because I use spelt and rye, rather than wheat as my culture base. In any case, living in a two adult household means that we don’t eat enough bread to justify keeping the culture going…I simply start a new culture once to twice a month. Here are some signs your culture should be tossed and started afresh:
o It smells ‘off’ or sulphuric (this is very different to the mildly pleasant tang of a healthy culture)
o There is mould or discolouration
o There is a sickly smelling liquid separating on top of your starter (a little liquid if you leave it a day or two is normal but lots is not).
Please note: Older starters tend to get runnier. This is normal providing your culture isn’t showing the above signs of spoilage. If ever in doubt, throw away and start again.
How To Make Healthy Vegemite Cheese Scrolls
Now that you have a starter culture, we’re ready to begin the fun bit! Aka making the sourdough scrolls.
¼ cup lukewarm water
1 sachet (approx 2 teaspoons) instant yeast
2 tbsp coconut sugar, plus 2 tsp extra to test the yeast
1 ¼ C plain spelt flour, plus extra for kneading
1C sourdough starter culture
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp vegemite
1 tbsp boiling water
1 C grated cheese (I used a vegan variety but cheddar is a great option if you eat dairy.)
Combine water, yeast and 2 tsp coconut sugar into a mug. This is to test that your instant yeast is still ‘alive’. It should activate and start to bubble and froth within five minutes.
Once yeast is activated, combine remaining coconut sugar, spelt flour, starter culture and salt into a bowl and mix well. This should from a cohesive but slightly sticky mixture. (Please note: If your sourdough culture is well established and very runny, you may need a couple of tablespoons of extra flour).
Dust a flat kneading surface and pour out mixture. Flour your hands well and knead for 10 to 15 minutes. The mixture should be soft and ‘stretchy’ when it is done. (I.e. you should be able to pull the ball apart and feel the dough stretch rather than snap apart.) Do not skip this step: Kneading activates the natural gluten in the spelt to form that gorgeous chewy doughy texture that we all associate with fresh bakery goods.
Using a rolling pin, roll your dough to form a rough rectangular shape approximately 40cm wide and 20 cm high.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vegemite and boiling water (as this makes the vegemite a little runnier and easier to spread). Using a pastry brush or flat spoon, distribute the vegemite evenly across the top of your dough. Next, sprinkle your cheese across the top.
Imagine that your dough rectangle is in thirds lengthways. Fold the first left third across to lay on top of the middle third. Then take the last third and fold it on top of these – you should have three layers of dough.
Working from the open ends where you can see the filling inside, cut away a strip of dough approximately 3cm wide. Lift and twist it – much like a straight pretzel. Next, take the right side and fold it over, then the left side and tuck it under that (kinda like how you start to tie up shoelaces). You can watch a video of me working this on my facebook page (@MFCMyFoodCulture)
Place the scrolls onto a lined baking tray and allow to rise for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature. Whilst scrolls are proofing, preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
Bake scrolls for approximately 10 minutes, or until dough is fluffy and soft when pulled apart. You do not want to overcook, as the scrolls will be dry. However, whilst the dough should be moist it should not be wet inside.
Serve warm from the oven (YUM) or reheat for 30 seconds in the microwave if you’re enjoying later. A quick reheat makes them warm and doughey again, and who doesn’t like gooey cheese?!
Got questions or comments? Chat with me on Facebook (@MFCMyFoodCulture). You can also subscribe to the MFC MyFoodCulture Cooking Channel on YouTube or join our mailing list for awesome content delivered straight to your inbox!