sharing recipes from one generation to the next
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)
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 Update April 2020
Take 90g of stored spelt starter, mix in 90g spelt flour and 90g filtered water. Cover the bowl and leave the it in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
Small bubbles should begin to appear on the surface after 2 hours. The starter will look aerated by the end of this time which indicates it is ready to use.
After mixing the bread dough weigh the unused starter and feed it equal amounts flour and filtered water then store in a covered container in the fridge for your next baking session.
Overnight Spelt Sourdough Bread – Update April 2020
200g active spelt sourdough starter
325g organic white spelt flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
170mls of filtered water
Method update April 2020
Measure the ingredients into a large mixing bowl in the above order. Mix to a shaggy dough, cover loosely with plastic or a damp tea towel..
After 20 minutes, wet you hands then grab the boule with both hands and stretch the dough then fold it over itself. Repeat this action twice more then re-cover the bowl and set aside.
Repeat the above twice at 20 minute intervals. The dough should be smooth and elastic
Allow the dough to proof in a covered bowl until increased in volume by 40%.
Line a bannetton with a clean tea towel.
Pre Shape Spray your bench with water, tip the dough from the bowl. Gently shape the boule into a fat oblong. Fold in three the flip the dough onto the folded side, cover and rest 20 minutes.
If you intend to encrust the loaf with seeds or oats, spread 1/2 cup onto a piece of baking paper the shape of the banetton. If leaving the loaf plain, generously dust the tea towel lined banetton with rice flour
Shaping Spray the bench with water again. To create tension, plait the dough lengthwise pulling the outside edges toward the middle the take fold the dough lengthwise and gently pinch the edged together where they meet. This is the bottom of the loaf.
Holding the dough by the pinched edges dip the top into the seeds then put it into the bannetton cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 225C.
When the oven reaches temperature, tip the dough onto a sheet of baking paper and slash the top of the loaf with a sharp blade.
Lift the loaf on the paper into a covered roasting pan and bake at 225C for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 200C 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