Bill Granger recipes: Our chef experiments with spelt, rye, buckwheat - and even chickpea flour

Though he grew up on rich pumpernickel loaves, Bill Granger has only ever baked with white flour at home – until now

Even though I grew up eating brown bread and have always loved really dark German pumpernickels, when it comes to home baking, my instinct has always been to go for white flour. Maybe I've been reading too many newspaper articles, but it just doesn't feel quite right any more. Even the supermarkets have moved on, stocking just about every flour under the sun.

I read something recently that said that using only white flour in baking is like using only white paint throughout your house. So, to make sure I keep with the times, I recently came home with every new flour I could get my hands on and I've been playing in the kitchen ever since.

There's nothing "new" about them, of course – they're ancient. But for me the big draw has been the more interesting textures and flavours that you get with spelt, rye, buckwheat or chickpea flours. Now all I need is to find an extra kitchen cupboard to store them.

Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111,

Chickpea pancakes with spiced roasted carrots and cauliflower

This was inspired by a dish I recently had in London's Quo Vadis, by the great chef Jeremy Lee. While we're still waiting desperately for the asparagus season to appear, it's a great way to bring a bit of colour and lightness to our plates at the end of winter. It makes a substantial meal in its own right, but if entertaining, extend it with some dal or meat curry.

Serves 4

For the pancakes

150g chickpea flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cumin
2 spring onions, sliced
2cm piece ginger, very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 green chilli, seeded and chopped
Handful coriander, roughly chopped
2 tbsp light-flavoured oil

For the roasted cauliflower and carrots

1 large head cauliflower, broken into florets, leaves reserved
3 large carrots, cut into chunks
2 tbsp light-flavoured oil
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp chilli flakes

To serve

1 small red onion, sliced
Handful coriander
1 green chilli, sliced into rounds
Plain yoghurt

Bill made his pancakes with chickpea flour (Kristin Perers) Bill made his pancakes with chickpea flour (Kristin Perers)
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas7. Place the cauliflower and carrots in a large oven tray where they fit in a single layer. Drizzle with oil and season with salt. Roast for 15 minutes, until beginning to char. Reduce the oven temperature to 200C/ 400F/Gas6, stir through the spices and chilli flakes and roast for a further 5 minutes.

For the pancakes, place the flour, salt and cumin in a large bowl. Slowly pour in 250ml water, stirring as you go to make a smooth batter. Add the spring onions, ginger, garlic, chilli and coriander. Mix well and set aside for 15 minutes.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Ladle about a quarter of the batter into the centre of the pan and tilt the pan to spread it evenly. Cook for three minutes. Turn over and cook for another 2 minutes, until golden. Repeat with the remaining batter.

To serve, spoon the roasted vegetables over the pancakes. Top with red onion, coriander, green chillies and plain yoghurt to taste.

Seeded hazelnut rye loaf

I couldn't convince the kids, but I love this bread so much, I could eat half the loaf in one sitting, which I'm sure negates all the benefits… It's great freshly toasted with butter and jam, or, for a substantial snack, top with herbed ricotta (pictured here, I used mint and dill), scatter with chilli and finish with a drizzle of honey.

Bill's seeded hazelnut rye loaf is great with herbed ricotta (Kristin Perers) Bill's seeded hazelnut rye loaf is great with herbed ricotta (Kristin Perers)
Makes 1 loaf

100g milled linseeds
250g rye flour
125g medium ground oatmeal
100g hazelnuts
1 tsp sea salt
60g pumpkin seeds
100ml honey
50g groundnut oil
3 tbsp light-flavoured oil, plus extra for greasing

Line a 1.2 litre loaf tin with baking paper and grease lightly with oil. Place the milled linseeds, rye and oatmeal in a large bowl with the hazelnuts, salt and pumpkin seeds. Stir well to combine. Combine the honey, oil and 350ml warm water in a jug. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. Spoon into the lined loaf tin.

Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/Gas4 and bake the loaf for 1 hour 20 minutes, until cooked through. Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out and wrap tightly in cling film. Leave for a few hours, or ideally until the next day.

Slice thinly and toast to serve.

Spinach-and-feta tart with spelt pastry

This is revisiting those old pies from back in the day when being healthy meant making a wholemeal pie with cheese. To stop it feeling too terribly retro, I've decided to use a straight-sided tin so that it feels more Ottolenghi than Cranks…

Spinach-and-feta tart feels more Ottolenghi than Cranks (Kristin Perers) Spinach-and-feta tart feels more Ottolenghi than Cranks (Kristin Perers)
Serves 8-10

For the pastry

250g white spelt flour
140g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Pinch salt
1 egg yolk

For the filling

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
Handful pine nuts
½ tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp dried oregano
300g baby spinach
200g feta cheese, crumbled
3 eggs
200ml crème fraîche
3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan

Start by making the pastry. Put the flour, butter and salt into a food processor and whizz until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and 1 tbsp water. Whizz again until it comes together into a ball. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/Gas4.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry and line a 23cm tart tin. The pastry is quite crumbly, so use the trimmings to patch any inevitable cracks. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Prick the base with a fork then line with greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes until cooked through.

For the filling, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, pine nuts, caraway seeds and oregano. Cook for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft. Stir though the spinach until just wilted and set aside. Combine the feta, eggs and crème fraîche in a separate bowl and stir into the spinach mixture. Spoon the filling into the pastry case. Scatter with Parmesan and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until set. Leave to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Photographs by Kristin Perers

Food preparation: Marina Filippelli;

Props merchandising: Rachel Jukes


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