Spelt Wheat Sourdough

When I started branching out from using regular white and whole wheat flours I felt like everywhere I turned I read something about spelt.  For reasons beyond me everyone seemed to use it in their loaves…I had never even heard of it!  It started to take on this almost mythical quality until I realized that I could easily walk down the street and buy spelt flour or whole spelt grains.  So finally a few weeks ago I actually did.

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Spelt has a similar flavor profile to your usual whole wheat flour but more protein.  So how come you don’t see the shelves stacked with spelt loaves?  For one, the gluten structure that forms from spelt flour is significantly weaker.  This means that if you want to get some of the nutritional benefits of spelt in a nicely risen loaf, you usually want to combine it with bread or whole wheat flour.  A benefit of the weaker gluten network is easier digestion for those with tempermental stomachs.

Since the gluten structure isn’t as strong you have to be a bit more careful when shaping your loaf.  If you toss it around without care you’ll end up with something denser than you’d like, which is to an extent what happened with the one I made.

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From the scoring pattern you can see it did get some oven spring, but the crumb tells a different story.  I’ve been making progress on handling dough ever since I started shaping loaves on a marble slab.  I originally bought the slab for use as a clean stable rolling surface (not interested in using the surface of our kitchen table).  Normally I used a silicone mat to work with dough, but I always ran into issues when handling especially high hydration loaves. DSCN2948

Not wanting to use too much flour the dough would inevitably stick to the silicone mat, and working with it was made more difficult because the mat would not stay put on my table.  So instead I now use a 25 pound slab that doesn’t budge.  I’m able to work with very high hydration dough without adding extra flour and can drag shaped loaves across the surface to create extra tension.DSCN2952The resulting loaves have a lighter crumb, taste better, and look nicer on the outside.  There are many breads on my ‘to bake’ list, but I hope to revisit this spelt-wheat soon to improve on what is already quite a tasty loaf.  Enjoy!

Spelt Wheat Sourdough (Makes 1 loaf)

Ingredients

Ingredient Ingredient Weight Baker’s Percentage
Spelt flour  200 g  40%
Whole Wheat Flour  150 g  30%
Bread Flour  150 g  30%
Water  425 g  85%
Sourdough Leaven  100 g  20%
Sea Salt  12.5 g  2.5%

Directions 

The night before (or at least 7-8 hours) you make your dough combine 2 tablespoons of unfed sourdough starter with 50 g of water, 25 g of all purpose flour, and 25 g of whole wheat flour.  Still until there are no dry bits of flour, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit out overnight.  This will be your active starter the next morning.  A drop of the starter will float in water when it is ready.

When ready, disperse the starter in 400 g of water in a large bowl.  Add all flour and mix by hand until there are no dry bits.  Cover and let rest for one hour.

After the hour is up add salt and remaining 25 g of water.  Mix well and cover the dough again.

For the next two hours ‘turn’ the dough every 30 minutes.  This means grabbing the underside of the dough, and stretching it up and over the rest of the dough.  Perform a few of these turns each time you handle the dough.  After two hours is up, let the dough rest for another hour before you turn it again.

After the third hour, let the dough rest another 30 minutes.  Then turn it out onto an unfloured surface.  Flour the top of the dough and flip it over.  Work into a round shape and let rest for 30 minutes.

Following the bench rest flour the top of the dough again, flipping it over after so the flour side is face down.  Fold the third of the dough closest to you inward, and then stretch the dough out to the sides.  Fold the right, and then left, sides in toward the center.  Fold the top of the dough inward, and then wrap the bottom part of the dough over it all.  Work this into a round shape, and place seam side up in a proofing basket lined well with flour.

Let rise for 3-4 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator).  Before baking place a dutch oven, with the lid on, in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.  Once hot, drop the dough into the pan and score the loaves.  Immediately place the top back on and return to the oven.  Turn the heat down to 450 degrees and cook for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the top of the dutch oven and rotate the pan.  Continue to bake the bread for another 20-25 minutes, until the crust is deeply caramelized.  Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Tartine No. 3 by Chad Robertson

8 thoughts on “Spelt Wheat Sourdough

  1. Pingback: Photoshop Phriday: Jim Harbaugh | Bakers & Best

  2. Hey! I really want to make this bread but i’m not sure I understand correctly, if the starter suppose to be 100 gram but according to this: combine 2 tablespoons of unfed sourdough starter with 100 g of water, 50 g of all purpose flour, and 50 g of whole wheat flour- it’s 200 gram isn’t it? so do I need to use just 100 gram of the starter and the other 100 gram to throw out?
    THANKS!

    • Hello! I’m glad you asked, I have been meaning to go back and edit this in a few of my past posts.

      You can certainly make less starter so that you don’t have any extra left over. So if you want you can mix the 2 T unfed starter with 50 g of water, 25 g of AP flour, and 25 g of whole wheat flour. I usually like to just have a little extra in case I need for whatever reason, but there is no need to waste the flour/water if you won’t be using it. Thanks for your comment, I hope you enjoy the bread!

  3. Thank you for the quick answer! so just checking… for the recipe I will need only 100 gram of starter?
    I’m going to make this recipe now so happy that I found sourdough bread with spelt and only a little of bread flour:)

  4. Hey, Thank you for the recipe. The bread came out really wonderful and delicious.
    The only problem I had in shaping the dough into a round boule is that the dough was very sticky, and it was very difficult for me to create a tight boule. How you handle the dough when shaping?

    • I’m glad you liked it! It can definitely be tough learning how to work with high hydration dough. My first recommendation is to work on a surface that won’t move (ie hard countertop instead of a dough mat) if you aren’t already.

      I would also make use of a dough scraper if you have one. You can use it as an extension of one of your hands but will be much less likely to stick to the dough. It is hard to describe the exact technique. You want to be gentle with the dough and use the sides of your hands rather than gripping firmly with all of your fingers. Digging into the dough too much will get it stuck all over your hands.

      I’d recommend looking at this post, I took a video of me shaping a few loaves and it would probably be more helpful than my bumbling description.

      http://bakersandbest.com/2014/06/23/revisiting-high-hydration-dough-tension-and-shaping/

      Also, you can lower the amount of water to maybe 77-80% and gradually work up as you get comfortable. When I started making loaves like these I really struggled with shaping them but over time I’ve learned the technique that works for me.

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