Spelt Sourdough Bread

A while back my neighbour, Regina, casually asked, ‘Do you ever make spelt bread?’

‘I have,’ I replied.

‘It is my favourite,’ she said.  I took that as a hint.

The next time I was at Kakulas Sister in Nollamara, I bought some spelt flour.

Spelt (Triticum spelta) is an ancient grain which is related to common bread
wheat (Triticum sativum).  It fell from favour as a grain for cultivation in the 19th century but is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity due to its value as a food
source and its ability to be tolerated by many people with wheat sensitivities.

The real beauty of spelt is in its ability to make a really light, highly nutritious loaf with an appealing nutty flavour. The protein in spelt is such that when the flour is turned into bread it bakes well and results in a very light, soft textured loaf with good keeping qualities which doesn’t shed crumbs when sliced.

(Info sourced from:  Bio-Distributors, Biodynamic & Organic Wholesalers of Tasmania)

Spelt contains gluten, and is therefore not suitable for people with coeliac disease. Nonetheless, many other people with allergies or intolerances to common wheat can, reportedly, tolerate spelt.

This recipe is from Wild Sourdough by Yoke Mardewi.  It makes two medium or three small loaves.

The evening before you wish to make your bread:

Prepare spelt starter:

  • 75g starter (Use whatever you have.   I used a 100% hydration wheat starter, but if you want a 100% spelt bread, you will need to use a spelt starter.  You could also use a rye starter.)
  • 75g rainwater or filtered water
  • 75g spelt flour

Take 50g of the remaining starter, feed with 50g of bread flour and 50g rainwater or filtered water and put back in the fridge (or do whatever you do to replenish your starter).

Next Day:

  • 200g spelt starter
  • 500g rainwater or filtered water
  • 800g spelt flour
  • 3 tsp salt
  1. Mix all the ingredients in your mixer bowl (except the salt) until just combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave for 20 minutes.
  2. Add the salt and knead the dough in an electric mixer for 5 minutes or by hand until it is smooth (about 10 minutes). The dough should clear the sides of the bowl of the mixer and, near the end of the 5 minutes, begin to clear the bottom of the bowl.  If it clears the sides and the bottom early in the kneading process, add a bit more water.
  3. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover and leave for 20 minutes.
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured bench and do a stretch and fold.  Return the dough to the oiled bowl.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with water and oil.
  6. Leave the dough at room temperature and allow it to nearly double in size.  Mine took about 5 hours.
  7. Divide and shape the dough into two or three pieces.  I decided to make three small sandwich loaves so I made 3 batards and then placed them right side up in my prepared bread tins.  My tins are 17.5 cm long and 10.5cm wide at the top. Alternatively, you could make two medium loaves, in which case, use tins about 24cm long and 10.5cm wide at the top.
    If you are making free-form loaves, place the loaves upside down in bowls lined with cloth and generously sprinkled with flour, or in bannetons.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with water and oil.
  9. Leave to rise again until almost doubled in bulk.  Mine took about 3 hours.
  10. An hour before you are ready to bake, preheat your oven.
    If you are making sandwich loaves: place your ceramic tile(s) on a shelf in the bottom third of your oven and preheat your oven to its hottest temperature.
    If you are making free-form loaves, follow the baking instructions in my Pain au Levain with Mixed Sourdough Starters post.
  11. When ready to bake, place tins in the oven on the tile(s).
  12. Turn the oven to 235˚C and cook for 10 minutes.  Spray the loaves 2 or 3 times with water in the first few minutes.
  13. Reduce temperature to 210˚C and cook another 15-20 minutes for small loaves or 30-35 minutes for medium loaves.
  14. Take loaves out of oven and release them from their tins. Cool on a cake rack.

Remember, if you live in Perth or thereabouts, you are more than welcome to my sourdough starters. I have a wheat starter and a rye starter.

14 thoughts on “Spelt Sourdough Bread

  1. hello
    i love the recipe so i gave it a try today ,just finished kneading and put to rest , now did u mean to stretch and fold every 50 minutes during the 5 hours !?? my dough is really wet with high hydration , its hard to cut or form into any shape ,should i put it in the pan direct after the second rest ?
    thank u .

    • Hi Maysa, at point 4 the words “stretch and fold” are a link. Follow the link and there are detailed instruction on how to do a stretch and fold. If your dough is really sloppy just shape it the best you can and plonk it into your tins. All will be well.

  2. Pingback: In My Kitchen – June 2014 | Passion Fruit Garden

  3. Glenda, splendid first spelt loaves. Spelt is a fickle mistress – the protein content varies enormously, and traditionally it’s not particularly high, which leads to flat loaves. I do wonder if the millers have been adjusting the gluten levels in recent years, as the spelt we’ve been getting is rising well also…

  4. Not yet! I ordered some ‘fine’ semolina recently from a local health food store, and they called me a few days ago to tell me that they couldn’t get the fine grind – but I have one more place to try. However, I’ve been doing some baking using the course stuff that I have, and frankly I’ve been well pleased with the results! I’ve also learned that many of the classic Italian breads use the courser grind. I’m also wondering if the course grind that I have is actually finer than the course grind that you get there.

    I’m ready to do a bread post, but not a semolina.

  5. Oh, that rose beautifully, didn’t it! I love the look of those loaves, with those cute little blisters all over – and the crumb is nice and even throughout (sign of a well made loaf). I’ve never used spelt yet – don’t know why not – but as you often do, you’ve motivated me to do so.

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