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I found the following recipe for buttermilk biscuits:

mix 2c flour, 1tsp salt, 1Tbsp baking soda cut 6Tbsp cold butter into mix add 1c buttermilk pat and fold on floured surface, cut into round biscuits and put in oven

The first time I made it, I used plain white flour. The buttermilk made it wet, but not overly so - it became a very sticky dough.

I recently tried again, but this time I used spelt flour instead. The mixture was significantly "wetter" after adding the buttermilk - so much so that I added some (wheat) flour on top to try to get it to what the previous batch was like. They also didn't rise as much when baked.

What explains the difference? My theory is that spelt has less gluten, so the dough didn't hold the CO2 as well when baking. But does this also explain why the batter was so much "wetter" with the same quantities of flour and buttermilk?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

In quick breads, as opposed to yeast raised breads, it gelatinized starch that creates the structure of the bread, and holds the leavening.

However, according to my research, most spelt flour (which is in fact a variety of wheat) is whole grain flour, so the bran will interfere with structure development.

My quick research indicates that spelt flour recipes requires less liquid to hydrate than standard wheat flour. According to What's Cooking America, this is because spelt flour is more water soluble than standard wheat flour (I interpret this to mean that the starches in it are).

If you google "spelt biscuits" you will find a variety of recipes that are tuned to its characteristics, such this one from All Recipes or this one from King Arthur.

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Thanks for the links - very informative. –  Kelsey Rider Mar 4 '13 at 9:48
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