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100% Sourdough Spelt Bread made simple

100% Spelt sourdough loaf, sliced

100% Spelt sourdough loaf, sliced

My sourdough bread baking journey began over 2 years ago. Finally I’ve arrived.

Motivated by digestive issues that necessitated the exclusion of all bread except slowly fermented sourdough spelt from my diet, I began questioning bakers I came across in the blogging world about their experience. Many had dabbled combining spelt into their conventional wheat flour loaves but none had done a total switch to spelt flour. Their responses were sprinkled with doubt and caution. I was advised that the bread would be dense, the loaves wouldn’t rise much, the dough needed to be super wet, the starter would be sluggish, and so on. I took it all on board and ploughed on regardless. I found a 100% spelt bread recipe, unfortunately loaded with jargon, and beetled on for a few months accepting my brick heavy loaves as the best I could expect. The bread I made wasn’t worth the effort so I gave up.

Inspired and buoyed by the results from my recent attempt into the sourdough bread world using 100% spelt flour I’d now like to debunk the myths attached to the notes of caution I mentioned above. Spelt bread, slowly fermented using an active spelt sourdough starter, and baked under the right conditions will produce a loaf comparable to any artisan sourdough wheat bread. The crumb will be moist and open, the crust thin and crisp, the flavour slightly sour but with a deliciousness nuttiness not found in wheat bread. My dough is not super wet and there is no fancy footwork on my part during the kneading process.

In the short space of time since I wrote the post “Breadbaking Tips for Beginners” my 100% spelt sourdough loaves have leapt way ahead in quality thanks to a change in my fermentation regime. I was happy with my loaves 2 weeks ago, now am over the moon. I have to thank Sarah @ Say! Little Hen for her guidance with timing and a flare in my arthritis for the change in the way I handle the dough.

Sarah and I both live in Queensland, where the summers are long, hot and humid. I had already decided to experiment with slowing down the ultra rapid room temperature fermentation by reducing the proportion of starter in Sarah’s fabulous recipe when she posted the instructions for proving the dough in the fridge. My first overnight loaf was incredible, my second a downright miracle. It was exactly like a loaf I’d have paid big money for from one of Melbourne’s top notch artisan bakers. “Wahoo!!!!!!!!!!”

In the interest of sharing the spelt sourdough love…..( I wrote this on St Valentine’s Day)

100% Spelt Sourdough Loaves

100% Spelt Sourdough Loaves

Converting your sourdough wheat starter to spelt is simple. The proportion of wheat will diminish significantly with each bake if you only feed the starter spelt flour and bake with spelt flour. I kept a small portion of active wheat starter aside for a few months as insurance until my spelt starter was able to prove it had longevity and resilience.

I had been advised that the proteins in spelt flour may not keep the starter active. While the starter usually needs 2-3 feeds to make it intensely active in preparation for baking, it has proved to be resilient. If your starter seems sluggish, keep feeding it every 4 hours or so with 1/4 cup each spelt flour and filtered water until it becomes very bubbly. If you need to leave it overnight, feed it a cup of spelt flour and a cup of filtered water and that will keep it happy until the morning when it will be ready for use.

Activating your spelt sourdough starter

Take 160g of stored spelt starter, mix in 1/4 cup spelt flour and 1/4 cup filtered water. Cover the bowl and leave the it in a warm place for 2 hours. Small bubbles will begin to form on the surface. Whisk in another 1/4 cup spelt flour and 1/4 cup filtered water, cover and leave to rest for another 2 hours. The starter will look aerated by the end of this time which indicates it is ready to use.

Set aside 160g in a covered container in the fridge for your next baking session. Feed it 1/4 cup spelt flour and 1/4 cup filtered water every week to keep it alive or alternatively bake bread every week.

Overnight Spelt Sourdough Bread

200g active spelt sourdough starter

325g organic white spelt flour

2 teaspoons sea salt

170mls of filtered water

8-9pm Measure the ingredients into a large mixing bowl in the above order. Mix to a shaggy dough, cover loosely with plastic and put in the fridge for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, tip the dough onto a well floured bench and knead it just enough to bring it together into a smooth ball. Stretch the dough into a large thin oblong then fold it in 3 in both directions. Lightly oil the bowl, add the dough, turn it over to coat it in oil then return it to the fridge for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, tip the dough onto the bench, but don’t use any flour this time. Stretch the dough into a large thin oblong, then fold the dough in 3 in both directions. Return the dough to the fridge overnight.

The next day, remove the dough from the fridge, tip it onto the unfloured bench then stretch it into a large thin oblong. Fold the dough in 3 in both directions, then fold in 3 again so you have a tight thick sausage. Place it join side up in a well floured (rice flour) bannetton and leave to rise, loosely covered for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. My kitchen is about 25C most of the day even when running the aircon.

After 1 1/2 hours, preheat the oven to 225C.

When the oven reaches temperature, tip the dough onto a sheet of baking paper and if you like, spray it with water, sprinkle with seeds, or else just slash the top of the loaf with a serrated edged knife.

Lift the loaf on the paper into a covered roasting pan and bake at 225C for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C and remove the lid of the pan. Bake for a further 25 minutes until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when you knock on the crust.

Cool on a wire rack. Slice when cold

 

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

60 comments on “100% Sourdough Spelt Bread made simple

  1. Prue Fisher
    May 14, 2017

    Hi could i get some spelt sour dough flakes off you? I live in nz and am making normal spelt bread well but tasted sour dour spelt from a market and it was beautiful. With hope Prue Fisher 53 King Edward Street, Sandringham, Auckland 1025

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      May 18, 2017

      Hi Prue, happy to mail you some spelt sourdough starter. Allow a few weeks, I don’t have any dehydrated ready to post. I’ll let you know when it’s on the way. Cheers Sandra

      Like

  2. Jemima
    May 7, 2017

    Hi I notice you have use a high percentage of starter in this recipe… is there a reason behind this or just your preference?
    Thanks

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      May 8, 2017

      Hi Jemima, yes my percentage of starter is high compared to the average wheat flour recipe. I’ve found it to be the most reliable formula using 100% spelt.

      Like

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  4. missfoodfairy
    February 23, 2017

    Thank you Sandra, I’m looking forward to starting my spelt starter now 🙂 Had to pin in case I don’t remember 😉 Thank you for sharing such an instructional post, love it! xx

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 23, 2017

      I was pretty new to it when I wrote that post, I’m a much more confident baker now, so if you have any questions once you get started don’t hesitate to ask 😃

      Liked by 1 person

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  6. Rose Frank
    December 14, 2016

    Hello Sandra, I would love to make my own spelt sourdough bread & would love some of your starter! I live in US,NH is it possible to mail it I am glad to pay!
    I use different types of flour for my breakfast loafs. Like Spelt, BrownRice, Oat, Almond, Amaranth, WW, Coconut. & Zucchini & Carrots an for fruit orange, cranberry, blueberries. I freeze the muffins & little loafs😊 Now I would like to try my hand at my favorite Sourdour Spelt, love it but not the $ for a loaf. I am new at this,like to experiment pray I do not mess up! Thank you for the knowledge hope I use it wisely!
    Rose

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      December 14, 2016

      Hi Rose, I tried to respond to the email address attached to your comment but it bounced. If you click on my avatar you will find my contact details. Email me your postal address and I’ll send some starter granules, it’s just a small package. 😃Sandra

      Like

  7. Aron
    December 7, 2016

    This was a delicious terrific bread! Thank you!
    The next time, I doubled the recipe, starter and all, and ended up with a terribly sour bread. Where did I go wrong?

    Like

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  10. Beck @ Goldenpudding
    September 17, 2016

    Hi Sandra, very impressed by your bread here, and just wondering if you changed your fermentation regime over winter? I tried making a few batches of spelt sourdough recently and got exactly the brick like loaves you were talking about at the beginning, but think we are too cold here in Canberra (certainly at this time of year) to retard the proving as much as you suggest…
    Any thoughts? Beck

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 17, 2016

      Hi Beck, I haven’t changed much at all to compensate for cooler temps but here’s what I’ve observed that’s different between now and then. My starter is super bubbly, keep feeding until it’s partying. My starter to flour ratio is higher than the average wheat flour formula and I still follow the overnight fridge fermentation regime, anywhere between 12-16 hours. I’m kneading only a minimal amount. After stretching and shaping in the morning I bake it after 2 hours regardless of how much it has risen and always get fantastic oven bounce. I haven’t stressed too much about quantities, temperatures and times, I guess I’m fortunate to have hit on a workable formula and regime. Good luck, hope the spelt bread gods smile on you. Sandra x

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beck @ Goldenpudding
        September 18, 2016

        Thanks Sandra, I might give it a go, because certainly the first couple of times the starter seemed to basically pine away when I gave it spelt, and is partying away now it has wheat flour – might try feeding an extra ‘practice’ one… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • ladyredspecs
        September 18, 2016

        You may have hit the nail o the head with the wheat flour. For the first month or two of the life of my starter I added a spoonful of wheat flour along with the spelt flour feeds because I was nervous about it dying. Now it’s well established I use only spelt flour. Also in the early days I fed the starter multiple times before I used it to get it bubbling away vigorously. Fingers crossed x

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Joyce
    September 11, 2016

    Hi,
    I am new to sourdough baking, got involved with it because my husband is sensitive to gluten. We found that as long as he doesn’t overdo it, he has no problems with it. I have a question; do you preheat the covered roaster before putting the dough in it to bake? Thanks Joyce

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      September 11, 2016

      Hi Joyce, baking sourdough bread can be a frustrating journey, but like riding a bike, once you’ve found your groove there is no looking back, just loaves of delicious gentle on the tummy crusty bread. If you are using a covered cast iron dish you need to preheat it, but if it’s just an old fashioned enamelled tin, the shaped and proven dough can be added cold. Good luck

      Like

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  13. Susan Monica
    July 29, 2016

    I would like some spelt sourdough started please! I am on a low FODMAP diet due to digestive issues. I am grateful I found your site! Thank you : )

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      July 30, 2016

      Hi Susan, you’ll find my email address in contacts on my blog. Send me a postal address so I can mail you some spelt sourdough starter. You’ll find loads of tasty Fodmap recipes on my blog

      Like

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  19. ChgoJohn
    February 24, 2016

    I think congratulations are in order, Sandra. Your loaves are beautiful and the crumb looks great! You’re to be given credit for sticking with it until you get the results you wanted. I, too, love my bread, though, so I can understand the motivation. I’ve a recipe for “regular” bread that, once mixed, is kept in the fridge for up to a week. It allows me to make a small loaf every other day or so, rather than 1 or 2 large ones that will go stale before I can finish them. Again, congrats!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 24, 2016

      Thanks John it’s been worth the frustrating journey. Baking a small loaf every other day would suit me too John. I looove fresh bread.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Sarah @ Say Little Hen
    February 21, 2016

    Great post Sandra and your bread is looking amazing! I thought you must be using white spelt as your bread looks slightly different than mine….mine is made with whole spelt as I grind the grain fresh before baking. I’m keen to purchase some white spelt at some point to have on hand for different loaves from time to time. I can’t stop experimenting it seems 🙂

    My loaf is about to come at the oven as I type….I can’t wait to cut the crust off and slather it in butter…mmm! Cutting the loaf to see the crumb is one of the most exciting parts, I reckon 🙂

    Sarah x

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 21, 2016

      Thanks Sarah, I’m totally hooked, the overnight fermentation has made an enormous improvement to the quality of my bread. White spelt is still quite mealy compared to white wheat flour and the flavour is quite nutty, sadly I found the fibre in the wholemeal spelt a bit aggressive for my dodgy gut. I have begun to think about hot X buns, have you tried using the starter to make sweet buns?

      Like

      • Sarah @ Say Little Hen
        February 21, 2016

        Oh yes sourdough makes the most delicious sweet buns! Here’s my recipe for cinnamon scrolls, you could probably just use the dough recipe and add some fruit, then shape them into buns to make hot cross buns. http://www.saylittlehen.com/2015/10/recipe-spelt-sourdough-cinnamon-scrolls.html

        You can make the cinnamon scrolls using the overnight method too, I just mixed up the dough, let it sit for 20 minutes in the fridge, then kneaded and returned to the fridge overnight. In the morning I mixed up the filling, rolled out the dough as usual and shaped and baked. They were delicious! And ready in time for morning tea due to the head start the night before 🙂
        The recipe is written with rapadura but you can of course use whatever sugar you prefer.

        Sarah x

        Like

      • ladyredspecs
        February 21, 2016

        Thank you so much Sarah X

        Like

  21. dishnthekitchen
    February 20, 2016

    Wonderful post!! We are at the heavy brick stage with our rye sourdough and I am not sure what we should be doing different.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 20, 2016

      Thanks Bernice. There are a few things that made a major difference to my loaves. Make sure the starter is super active before starting, just keep feeding her until she really starts dancing, in fact it might help to feed it a few doses of wheat just for encouragement. NOT kneading but stretching and folding instead, and overnight fermentation also contributed enormously. The other thing that might help is to increase the proportion of starter, wheat recipes don’t translate well to other grains. Good luck

      Like

      • dishnthekitchen
        February 23, 2016

        okay…thanks! I will try a few of these suggestions.

        Like

  22. 2bebe
    February 19, 2016

    hello, so excited to read your post about spelt sourdough and would absolutely love a starter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      February 20, 2016

      Send me an email, you’ll find the address in contacts, include your postal address and I’ll send some dried starter flakes.

      Like

      • 2bebe
        February 20, 2016

        wonderful but I’ve not yet found the ‘contact’ tab – perhaps I’m using man eyes – help!

        Like

      • ladyredspecs
        February 20, 2016

        Sorry about that, WP has made a few subtle changes to my theme including the exclusion of contact details it seems. I’ll work on fixing it but meanwhile my email address is sandrajgay@yahoo.com.au

        Like

  23. Francesca
    February 19, 2016

    The slow overnight proving of bread in the fridge is one that I also recommend for all sorts of bread as it improves the flavour, as well as making it more digestible, A few years ago I had a discussion with a baker from St Andrews, who studied sourdough baking and practised it in San Francisco for 12 years, who felt that long overnight proving was a definite plus in a bread’s digestibility due to the chemical changes that take place. For those who use yeast in pizzas and other breads, overnight proving in the fridge, up to 24 hours, also makes the dough more digestible.

    Thanks for the recipe. I am about to do one separate tub of converted spelt starter to see how it goes in my life. The recipe differs quite a lot from my proportions, with more starter and less water, so it will come in handy. The method, otherwise, its the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      February 19, 2016

      Your baker was right! The big downside of having delicious bread in the house after years of going without is I’m eating it and on rolls the weight. Sarah’s bread does use a lot more starter than the average wheat loaf. I did a test bake a couple of weeks ago, I made 3 loaves each with a different portion less starter. The texture was generally heavier, my recipe is the best result from that bake. Because my spelt starter needs a couple of feeds to really get it going, the high proportion starter recipe works perfectly. I hope you do find spelt bread digestible Francesca because it’s delicious

      Like

      • Francesca
        February 19, 2016

        I also give my unspelted starter three feeds and end up with loads of the stuff. ( hence pancakes).Three feeds makes it very happy. Shall do a conversion this week.

        Liked by 1 person

  24. Thanks for the tips, I too have been discouraged by all the artisan bread books out there. My house is usually a lot cooler, around 68 F (20 C), so I’ve had to do a lot of adjusting of the proofing times.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 19, 2016

      I just kept thinking as I read those books, “speak plain English!” Hope your bread is working out….

      Like

  25. Mum to three
    February 18, 2016

    So excited to see this post. I may have to pick your brain, if you don’t mind!

    Like

  26. Lisa @ cheergerm
    February 18, 2016

    Totally inspiring reading Sandra. Super result.

    Like

  27. Lauren at Knead to Dough
    February 18, 2016

    Thank you for such a comprehensive post! It’s wonderful to benefit from all your hard-earned knowledge and it makes sourdough bread seem a lot less mysterious!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 18, 2016

      You’re welcome Lauren. Don’t be intimidated by bread baking books and their pedantic jargon like I was initially , it’s a process you should enjoy

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Debi @ My Kitchen Witch
    February 18, 2016

    So glad you finally arrived at the perfect 100% spelt sourdough – a long road, but so worth it. I, too, have had to start putting the dough in the fridge to slow down the fermenting as Athens is SO different from the cool UK, even in winter. And, like you, have found that the quality of the loaf (even though I use conventional – local – wheat flour) is far superior and bakes beautifully.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 18, 2016

      Debi I’m so excited about my bread, I can’t believe how “professional” it is. Slowing the fermentaion made a significant difference. Enjoying the delicious loaves may have added a kilo or two….

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Yvonne
    February 18, 2016

    My daughter in law finds she can’t tolerate ordinary bread. I wonder if spelt bread might satisfy her yearning for this staff of life? I’m going to give it a try, I like the whole process involved in bread making.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      February 18, 2016

      Hi Yvonne, Slow fermentation of spelt sourdough makes it much more digestible than bread raised with yeast, it isn’t gluten free though. Good luck trying baking spelt bread, I hope you SIL enjoys and tolerates it

      Liked by 1 person

  30. ardysez
    February 18, 2016

    You deserve loads of praise for your perseverance, Sandra! Those loaves are amazing. My starter arrived today and I’m shopping for ingredients tomorrow. Unfortunately I got rid of my covered roaster a year or so ago so will have to try and find another one. We leave a week from tomorrow for a short trip to Melbourne then are back a week and leave for four weeks, so I’m not at all sure I should embark on this adventure yet, but will see how I go. Congratulations, you’re a legend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      February 18, 2016

      Thanks Ardys, don’t rush it, wait until you can get into the breadbaking groove, the dried starter will be happy in the fridge for a month or two. A covered roaster isn’t essential, just an easy option for creating a steamy baking enviroment

      Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on February 18, 2016 by in Baking, bread, Breakfast and Brunch, FODMAP diet, Food and tagged , , , , , , .
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