I love spelt and I love eating whole grain.
When I first started teaching myself sourdough baking, I was determined to work with this nutty, ancient grain and not leave out any of its bran. I wanted a well-risen, easy-to-make, wild yeast loaf which was soft in the middle and crusty on the outside.
After a few months, I had beautiful loaves that tasted great, but they’d go stale very quickly. Experimentation led me to adding a scald – a portion of flour cooked in water – to the dough. This made the bread even softer, and stopped the problem with it going stale.
SInce then, over 18 months ago, I have made this bread every week. it has become a joyful, delicious staple in our home. It is wonderful fresh, slices really well, keeps and can be frozen.
Download a .pdf file of the recipe here.
You will need a 1kg loaf tin and an active sourdough starter. (See my post How to Create a Sourdough Starter for guidance if you need it.)
I build my sourdough levain for this bread the night before I want to bake. I then make the scald and mix the dough the next morning, ferment during the day and bake that afternoon. These timings can be played with depending on your schedule and the temperature of your house.
The night before:
Build your sourdough levain
45g wholegrain spelt flour
32g non-chlorinated water
13.5g active sourdough starter
Mix these well and leave them in a warm place overnight. (If you need help, check out my article called How to Keep Your Sourdough Starter Warm.)
The next morning:
Make the scald
48g wholegrain spelt flour
192g non-chlorinated water
Put both of these ingredients in a saucepan on medium to high heat and stir the mixture continuously, with a whisk or wooden spoon, until it starts to really thicken. Turn the heat down to low and continue to stir well for another few minutes – you are looking for a thick mixture that is not lumpy. Protocol suggests this mixture should reach 65C/150F. In practice I have found that cooking for 4/5 minutes will do this. Once done, leave this to cool.
Make the dough
507g wholegrain spelt flour
196g non-chlorinated water
optional: 1 tbsp honey
Mix the salt into the flour in a large bowl. Add your sourdough levain (which should be peaking or have just peaked), the water, the optional honey and the cooled scald. Mix until well combined using your hands.
Cover and leave to bulk ferment in a warm place. The dough should increase in size by sixty to seventy percent. In the summer, for me, this takes three hours, in the winter, five.
At the end of the bulk ferment period, grease and flour your baking tin. Gently tip the loaf out on to a floured board and shape it to fit your tin. Place into the tin, cover and leave to prove in a warm place until visibly risen. In my warm house this usually takes between an hour and an hour and a half.
If baking in a metal loaf tin, preheat your oven to 230C/445F. Brush the loaf with water and cook at 230C/445F for fifteen minutes, then reduce the temperature to 210C/410F for another fifteen minutes, finally turning the temperature to 190C/375F for a further thirty minutes. After this time, take the loaf out and check whether it is done by either tapping the bottom and listening for a hollow sound or using a probe thermometer and looking for a temperature of c. 90-95C/194-203F.
If baking in a ceramic loaf tin with a lid, preheat your oven to 210C/410F. Brush the loaf with the water and cook at 210C/410F for fifteen minutes, then reduce the temperature to 190C/375C for the remaining cooking time of c. forty-five minutes. After this time take the loaf out and check whether it is done by either tapping the bottom and listening for a hollow sound or using a probe thermometer and looking for a temperature of c. 90-95C/194-203F.
I want to see and hear about your process: your ingredients, how you got on with baking, the finished bread, how you eat it and who you share it with. I post pictures on Instagram @ancestral_kitchen, if you’re there, post using the hashtag #ancestralcookup and tag me (@ancestral_kitchen). If you don’t have instagram, please do comment at the bottom of my blog post – you can upload your pictures there too.
If you want to give my recipe a go, I thank you. I’ve been looking for a community of cooks for a while. If you help make it more than just me in my kitchen, you’re guaranteed to make me smile!
I live in Oregon, USA, and saw this recipe linked on Elly’s video. I love Spelt and look forward to giving this a try! I also look forward to checking out the rest of your blog for ideas. Thank you for the recipe!
Hi Lori and thanks for your note! Glad you found me – I was super-grateful to Elly for baking up my loaf. I love her breads. Amazing that we’ve covered Italy, Auz and the US with the connection! Let me know how you get on with this recipe 🙂
I’m making this loaf this morning, and just noticed that your recipe doesn’t mention any kneading or other explicit gluten development. Does it need any?
Hi Deane. There’s no need to knead the loaf – just make sure you mix the ingredients really well at the start. When I do it that means about 5 minutes of working to combine. I’d love to hear/see how you get on! Alison
I found you through Elly’s video and tho I have some spelt grains arriving via Azure this week, I am wondering if this recipe translates well for freshly milled white or red hard wheat. Currently, I only have a hand grain mill, but am hoping to purchase a Mockmill 100 when I can afford it.
I have never tried it with wheat, but I’m sure it’d work. Elly made this loaf with freshly milled spelt – the only thing I’d say to pay attention to with a different grain or freshly-milled is the water, you may need more. I have a hand-grinder too 😉