from one generation to the next
Since joining the Facebook (FB) Group Sourdough Baking Australia and New Zealand a while ago my understanding of the sourdough bread baking process has grown enormously. There’s a wealth of knowledge, experience and talent in the group so questions are always answered clearly and intelligently.
My decision to only use spelt flour to make bread was based on the affects that slow fermentation has on the grain and the benefits to digestability. I’ve since learned that wheat undergoes the same changes, one day I’ll put it to the test.
I’d never come across another baker who made 100% spelt flour bread until I was given a helping by a fellow blogger. After a disastrous experience a few years earlier, I was so determined to succeed that I followed her every instruction slavishly. Buoyed by my success, but with disaster still fresh in my mind, my love of that bread kept me devoted for 18 months, adapting and developing the recipe to make different flavoured loaves.
What set that particular bread recipe apart was the high proportion of active starter to the weight of flour. It’s much higher than any other sourdough bread recipe I’ve seen but I was curious. Could spelt flour still rise, still make delicious bread with a more conventional quantity of starter.
Recent posts on the FB forum discussed using a 1:2:3 formula, one part active starter, 2 parts water and 3 parts flour with 2g of salt per 100g of flour. Did that just apply to wheat flour loaves or would spelt respond in the same way? One way to find out….
My 1:2:3 loaves not only looked good, they still tasted great and the crusts were deliciously crisp. The big benefit seems to be that the bread stayed fresh much longer than before. Dough made to this formula is much easier to handle too, it just seems happier.
This bread recipe is a copycat loaf, my effort to reproduce the “Vital” loaf baked by AG Bakery in Melbourne, bread that tastes so good I used to travel across town to buy it. Although the Vital loaf is a combo of wheat and rye I stuck to using spelt flour. I’m grateful they listed the added grain and seed ingredients on their website.
Multigrain & Seed Loaf – to make 3 loaves
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup multigrain mix for bread
2 tablespoon linseeds
1 cup boiling water
300g active sourdough starter
300g wholemeal spelt flour
600g white spelt flour
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
for the crust : 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons poppyseed
Combine the multigrain mix, linseeds and oats in a small bowl.
Pour over 1 cup of boiling water and allow to the grains to soak and swell until they cool.
Weigh the starter, flour, salt and water into a large bowl then add the soaked grains and sunflower seeds.
Mix to a shaggy dough, cover* and set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
Flour the bench, tip the dough onto the flour and lightly knead until the boule feels smooth and elastic.
Wash the bowl and lightly oil the inside surface.
Put the dough into the oiled bowl, cover and set aside for 45 minutes.
Tip the dough onto a unfloured bench, then gently stretch the dough as thinly as possible.
Fold the edges of the dough into the centre and keep folding in this manner to make a boule.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover and put into the fridge to prove for 14-16 hours.
Prepare three banettons by dusting with rice flour or line with linen liners.
Tip the dough onto the bench and divide into three.
Stretch each piece of dough to it’s fullest extent without tearing, then fold and roll to make a loaf.
Place seam side up in a prepared banetton.
Cover and set aside to prove. When the dough passes the poke** test, preheat the oven to 225C.
Tip the dough onto a sheet of baking paper, spray with a mist of water, sprinkle with seeds then slash the top surface.
Lift the dough into a covered roasting tin, place the lid on top and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the roasting tin lid, reduce the oven temp to 200C then continue baking the bread for a further 25 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling wire.
* I use plastic shower caps to cover my mixing bowls and banettons.
** The “Poke” test determines if the dough has proven sufficiently. If, when poked, the dough springs back and fills the finger indentation it needs longer. If the hole just partially refills the dough is ready to bake.