Updated: Mar 8
Are you ready to start playing with some different flours in your sourdough? Then you are in the right place! Most of my sourdough breads are made with white flour and a small touch of rye flour. This time however, I am sharing a spelt sourdough bread. Spelt is an ancient grain similar to wheat with a nutty flavour. It is slightly sweeter than normal wholemeal flour. You can usually replace any wholemeal flour in a recipe with wholemeal spelt flour.
Wholemeal spelt is good for you in the same way that normal wholemeal flour is. It contains lots of fibre and it is a good source of slow-releasing energy. It is not suitable for people with a gluten intolerance. Let me know in the comments or on Instagram @bakingstori if you have baked with spelt flour before!
This recipe is more advanced than my beginner's no-knead sourdough which is a great place to start if you haven't made many sourdough breads before. The hydration in this spelt bread is quite a lot higher than in my beginner's bread, making it more difficult and sticky to work with. However, feel free to rise up to the challenge! You need to be at home the whole day, because this bread is very hands-on. However, most of the time the dough is just resting, but you will have to check up on it every few hours. During the stretch and folds in the bulk fermentation, there is a bit more hands-on work to do.
Spelt Sourdough Bread
This recipe makes 2 medium sized loaves.
Equipment: two bannetons or two bowls with tea towels for proving // a bench scraper // a large mixing bowl // a bread lame or very sharp knife for scoring // a Dutch oven for baking
Recommended videos to watch before starting:
How to to the Rubaid method: LINK
How to slap and fold: LINK
How to stretch and fold: LINK
How to shape a boule: LINK
For the levain
35 grams active sourdough starter
35 grams white flour
35 grams rye flour
70 grams warm water (anywhere between 25 Celsius and 33 Celius is fine)
For the dough
600 grams strong white bread flour
300 grams organic wholemeal spelt flour
18 grams fine sea salt
660 grams warm water
80 grams warm water for mixing in later
rice flour for dusting
Make sure you have an active sourdough starter. Your starter should have a steady rise and fall - it should at least double in size when you feed it. If it doesn't, feed it every day until it does. Let me know if you would like me to create a sourdough starter guide! I have used different methods, but my current starter was made using James Morton's "Super Sourdough" book.
Feed your starter the evening before you are going to make your levain the way you normally feed it.
The next morning, 8AM: make your levain. Mix all the ingredients for the levain in a small glass jar, but make sure there is enough room for the starter to double or even triple. Place an elastic band around your jar, exactly where the starter is now, so you can track its growth. Place the levain in a warm spot (27 Celsius is good). I put mine on the boiler but you can also pop it in the oven with the light on. Leave to reach maximum size (5 hours at least).
The leftover starter that you did not use in the levain, you can pop in the fridge until you want to start using it again. It should be fine for a few days, or if you feed it some more before popping it in the fridge, it will easily last a week.
12PM: autolyse the ingredients for your dough in a large mixing bowl. Mix the flours with 660 grams of warm water. Do not add the salt. Place the bowl in the warm spot together with the starter. By warming up this mix, your internal dough temperature will be very comfortable for the levain to do its job later.
13PM: check on your levain to see how far it is. You want to add the levain to your dough when it has risen to its full capacity, and is only just starting to fall. This is when the yeasts are most active. Let's assume this happens at 13PM (it usually happens around 5 hours after mixing my levain for me but it depends on the temperature and humidity). Add the levain to your dough. Use the extra 80 grams of water (not all of it) to wetten your hands, and incorporate the levain into the dough. Perform 2 minutes of the "Rubaud method": shape your hand into a bowl-shape for scooping, and reach underneath the dough. Pull it up and then let is slap back into the bowl. Do this for 2 minutes (this is a very good bicep workout). Look up a video to see someone do it! It's very easy and all in the bowl so no mess. Place the bowl back in its warm spot.
13:30PM: add the salt and use some of your extra water to disperse it through the dough. Perform another 1/2 minutes of Rubaud method. Then take the dough out of the bowl, onto a clean counter, and slap and fold for 5 minutes. Keep your hands wet with your extra water to make it less sticky. Pick up the dough on both sides, slap it down onto the counter, and fold it over itself. Then, rotate 90 degrees, and repeat. Keep doing this until the dough's outside is smooth. Place back in its warm spot to relax.
14:00PM: we are now going to do stretch and folds. We will perform 6 sets of stretch and folds in total. The first three we will perform 15 minutes apart and the final three half an hour apart. Again look up a video on how to do stretch and folds, it is all in the bowl and easy. With wet hands, grab one side of the dough, pull it up as far as it will go, then fold it over the dough to the other side. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat to make 1 or 2 full circles, until the gluten starts to resist. Always place the bowl back in its warm spot between stretch and folds.
14:15PM/14:30PM/14:45PM: Perform the first three sets of stretch and folds.
15:15PM/15:45PM/16:15PM: Perform the last three sets of stretch and folds. After this, the dough should definitely pass the windowpane test. Stretch out a piece of dough as far as it can go. You should be able to see through it without it tearing. Place the dough back in its warm spot for the remained of the bulk fermentation. If your dough reaches this stage before performing all 6 stretch and folds, you can also perform less, but it helps your dough's structure a lot if you do 6. Place the dough back in the warm spot for the remained of the bulk fermentation.
18:00PM: shape your loaves! It has been five hours since you added the levain to the dough. Around this time your dough should be ready for shaping. The dough should be bubbly and very jiggly when you move the bowl, and it should have increased at least 50% in size, or close to doubled even. Take your dough out onto a clean counter and divide it into two even pieces using a bench scraper. It helps if your bench scraper is slightly wet so nothing sticks. Pre-shape your loaves using the bench scraper and one free hand. Watch a video on how to do it because it makes much more sense when you see it! You basically pull the dough towards you with your left hand, and you push the dough away from you with the bench scraper. Repeat until the dough is a loose boule. Dust both boules with some rice flour and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
18:20PM: final shaping time. Heavily dust your bannetons or proving baskets with rice flour. Flip the boules over so the smooth, floured side faces down. You can now shape the dough into either a boule like my loaf or a batard. For a boule, take one side of the dough, then pull it up and fold it over the dough. Turn 90 degrees and repeat enough times to make at least a full circle and the dough feels tight. Flip the dough over so the seam side is down, and tighten it up by pulling the dough towards you a few times at different angles. Place the boules in their bannetons with the seam side facing up. Cover with a plastic bag or shower cap and place in the fridge to prove overnight.
The next morning, 8AM: preheat your oven with a Dutch oven inside for at least 1 hour, at the highest temperature your oven will go (250 Celsius is perfect). My oven only goes to 220 Celsius, so your loaf will probably come out way better with more oven spring than mine if your oven goes up higher than that!
9AM: bake your first loaf. Take it from the fridge. You can do two things: 1) inverse the dough straight into the Dutch oven or 2) inverse the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and lift the whole thing up and into the Dutch oven. I inversed it straight into the Dutch oven but when you do this, you have to be very careful not to burn yourself. Score the loaf in a cross pattern using 2 quick, smooth slicing motions. Put the lid on the Dutch oven and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
9:20AM: take the lid off of the Dutch oven, turn the oven down to 220 degrees Celsius, and bake for another 20 minutes.
9:40AM: take the loaf out of the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for at least one hour. Place the Dutch oven back into the oven to preheat for at least another 20 minutes at your oven's highest temperature before baking your second loaf.
10:00AM: bake the second loaf by repeating the instructions above.
Let me know if you make this recipe on Instagram @bakingstori :)
This bread is delicious with just butter and flaky sea salt. Or you can toast it and serve it with shakshuka for lunch or brunch!