from one generation to the next
The most frequently viewed post on Please Pass The Recipe in the last couple of months has been a piece I wrote in February 2016. It documented my long, frustrating spelt sourdough bread baking journey. In 100% Sourdough Spelt Bread Made Simple, I rounded out the post by sharing my successful recipe and method. Working toward further improvement and greater reliability hasn’t all been smooth sailing though.
Those who have tried sourdough bread baking know that it’s a rollercoaster ride influenced by climate, flour, even the cook’s hands. Despite all this, my love of the process has continued. I’ve dabbled with recipes for flatbread, bagels and buns but I still choose every week to make 100% spelt loaves for everyday consumption. My bread has been variable, but each disappointment has lead to a giant leap forward and greater consistency.
The major influence on the amendments I’ve made to both the recipe and method recently has been the Facebook group Sourdough Baking Australia. Facilitated by sourdough baker extraordinaire Maree Tink, the group’s willingness to share skills and experience in the true sense of community has raised the bread baking bar several notches in my expectation. In search of higher oven spring, more open crumb, longer shelf life and a bread baking routine that better fits into my rhythm of life, I’ve experimented, tested and tweaked. Some changes never got past the test phase, others I have adopted into my regular bread baking routine.
Re-reading that 2 1/2 year old post, I acknowledge it was a good starting point, but now believe it’s time I shared my updated recipe, method and routine because like my bread, it has continued to improve.
I was drawn to sourdough because of the well documented improvement to the digestibility of bread that is goes through slow fermentation, and while that’s still important to me, my goal always is to bake delicious bread.
Activate your stored starter on the morning you intend to mix your dough.
First thing, around 8am, remove the starter from the fridge, pour off any hooch then stir in 1/4 cup each of white spelt flour and filtered water. Cover the bowl and put it in a warm place for 3-4 hours by which time it will have begun to bubble. Add another 1/4 cup each of white spelt flour and filtered water, return the starter to it’s resting warm place. After 2 hours the starter should have doubled in size and be good to go.
Prepare the grains
125g mixed grains and seeds* oats, linseeds, sesame, kibbled wheat
250g boiling water
Pour the boiling water over the grains, stir to combine then set aside until cool.
100% Spelt Sourdough Seed Bread ( high hydration ) for 2 medium loaves or 3 small loaves
150g active sourdough starter
400g white spelt flour
600g wholemeal spelt flour
700mls filtered water
Weight the starter into a large bowl.
Add the flours, soaked grains, salt and water
Stir the ingredients into a shaggy dough with a spatula. At this stage the dough id quite wet.
Cover the bowl with a plastic shower cap and set the bowl aside for 20 minutes.
Generously dust your bench with flour then tip the dough onto the flour.
Wash and dry the bowl then generously oil the inside surface with olive oil.
With oily hands knead the dough, it will be sticky, into a smooth soft boule then return the dough to the bowl, cover and set aside.
After 45 minutes, uncover the bowl the using both hands lift the dough upward but not out of the bowl, so it stretches as far as it will give, then fold in over. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat the stretch and fold 2-3 times.
Cover the bowl and set aside for 4-6 hours, repeating the stretch and fold process another 2-3 times during that period.
Prepare your bannettons by either dusting with rice flour or lining with a clean linen tea towel.
Tip the dough onto the bench and divide it into the number of loaves you intend to bake.
Do another stretch and fold on each piece then shape the dough and place it seam side up into the prepared bannettons.
Cover the bannettons loosely with a shower cap then place into the refrigerator overnight.
When you are ready to bake the next day, preheat the oven to 225C.
Tip the dough onto a piece of baking paper and slash the surface.
Transfer the dough to a cold roasting pan, cover and bake for 20 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 200C, remove the cover and bake for a further 25 minutes.
Remove from loaf from the oven and transfer to a cooling wire.
Increase the oven temperature and repeat the baking process with the remaining loaf.
*I buy bakers grains from my local bulk store and add extra linseeds and oats to increase the volume of the mix by 50%