Spelt is a wonderful earthy flour that makes great sourdough bread. Many people use spelt flour for sourdough and other baking because of its nutritional value. I am not a nutritionist but I have read that spelt flour is good source of fibre, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, vitamins B & E! Wow, that’s a power punch in one a simple piece of sourdough toast for breakfast!
Spelt flour is also naturally high in protein but because this is sourdough, check the packet to make sure the protein level is around 13%.
The difference between spelt and wheat flour
Even though spelt is naturally is high in protein (usually 12-14%), it’s lower in gluten. Gluten is what forms the strong, stretchy internal walls of the bread helping it to rise and hold its shape and protein is what gives the gluten its strength. So while the protein levels in spelt are high enough for sourdough bread, the walls (gluten) are not as big. So spelt sourdough bread (used at 100%) will produce a flatter loaf than wheat flour. Spelt sourdough bread is not dense. No, it’s not that dreaded flat sourdough. It is a soft enjoyable loaf with its own beauty.
Spelt also absorbs water better than wheat, so it the hydration requirements are different. The below recipe adds a little more flour to the same water measurement as all my other sourdoughs. to give you the same outcome.
Wholemeal spelt sourdough is a wholemeal flour containing the entire, unsifted grain. Just like all other wholemeal flours, the dough will absorb more flour, be more sticky and less stretchy. 100% Wholemeal spelt sourdough has a medium-strong earthy flavour, but is not bitter like wheat wholemeal can be, and is a flatter loaf than both white spelt and wheat flour sourdough. See images below.
The difference between wholemeal and white spelt
White spelt flour will give you a slightly flatter loaf than using white wheat flour for the same recipe. The dough will be wetter than wheat and for this reason, I alter the flour measurements so that the dough is easy to handle. White spelt produces a subtle earthy, slightly nutty flavour and while it does rise as much as a wheat loaf, it rises a lot more using wholemeal spelt, all the while maintaining a soft interior, much like that of wheat flour.
Wholemeal spelt flour however is a little like dark rye flour in both flavour and texture. Your dough will be wetter and your sourdough bread will not rise as high as a white spelt loaf or a wheat loaf, but the final texture won’t be overly dense. Wholemeal spelt flour produces a medium to strong taste.
If you do want a higher rise and/or lighter flavour, you can mix either white and wholemeal spelt flour together (for a lighter wholemeal loaf) or either of them with wheat bread flour in any proportion. Mixing spelt with wheat bread flours will add a little more gluten back into the dough, improving rise. It will also soften the nutty, earthy flavour of spelt (wholemeal spelt in particular).
Your final loaf will take on the most characteristics of the flour you use in the greatest proportion. E.g The more spelt flour you use, the more spelt characteristics it will have – taste, rise and hydration.
Can I feed my sourdough starter with spelt flour?
Yes. Any grain-based flour will work. Just note, the grain must contain some gluten. If it doesn’t have any at all, you need a gluten-free sourdough starter. #goalsformyfuture
WHERE TO BUY SPELT FLOUR
Since I don’t bake with it a whole lot, I use spelt flour that I can get at the supermarket because the quantities are smaller.
If you can’t get spelt flour at your local supermarket, or want to buy it online, try Amazon. Delivery is free for Prime or orders over $39. You may also get free delivery for your first purchase.
*Use warm water if you want the dough to double faster. If rising overnight use room temperature water.
180g sourdough starter (6.3oz) is equivalent to:
1. Low-maintenance sourdough starter Your jar from the fridge + 2 feeds (Steps 1-2)
2. Maintenance-free sourdough starter 1 Batch: 3 Feeds (Steps 1-3)
3. Traditional sourdough starter fed to more than 180g (6.3oz) so that you have some leftover to continue feeding
PREPARE YOUR SOURDOUGH STARTER AHEAD
Low-maintenance: 2 Feeds. Steps 1-2 in the recipe card with your kit
Maintenance-free: 3 Feeds. Steps 1-3 in the recipe card with your kit
Traditional sourdough starter or YOUR OWN STARTER: You need 180g of sourdough starter (6.3oz), fed and doubled by the time you make the dough.
1. Scoop 180g of sourdough starter (6.3 oz) into a large mixing bowl.
Following the Low-maintenance process? You will have 5g of sourdough starter left in your jar (0.2oz). Now is the time to do FEED 1: Add 10g warm water (0.4 oz) & 10g bread flour (0.4 oz) to the small amount of starter in your jar. Stir & place in the fridge until next bake or 6 weeks, whichever comes first.
2. Add 9g of salt (0.4oz) and 265g of warm or room temp water (9.34oz) directly to your bowl with the sourdough starter and stir vigorously to dissolve all solids then add the drained fruit.
3. Add 450g Spelt flour (15.8 oz) to the wet ingredients and mix well to combine.
4. Squeeze the mix (like a sponge) for 1-2 minutes using your hands. This will help ‘push’ water into the flour and hydrate it. Clump the dough into a ball shape and wash your hands.
5. Cover the bowl* with cling wrap^ and leave and leave somewhere where the temperature will be fairly stable.
Doubling guide time for your kitchen temperature at the moment:
– 18°C or below (64°F): 12+ hours
– 19-23°C or below (65-74°F): 8-10 hours
– 24°C or above (75°F): 4-5 hours
If you are around while your sourdough is rising, as you approach the end of the rise time check every now and then to see if the dough has doubled in size. Especially if you just guessed the temperature.
Your dough will be ready to shape when it’s twice its original size, puffy and a number of bubbles may be poking through the surface or seen on the side. (Using a glass bowl makes it easy to see but not essential!)
*If you don’t mind doing an extra step, using a clean, lightly oiled bowl stops the dough from sticking to the bowl during the rise. When you tip the dough out later, you will keep all the lovely air pockets that form. When dough sticks to the bowl, it stretches as it releases and tears the air pockets that help it rise.
^Using a clear reusable shower cap over your bowl, instead of cling wrap, helps put less plastic in landfill.
1. Lightly oil your bench-top and gently tip out your dough. If you made enough for two loaves and made it as one dough, use a dough scraper or firm plastic spatula, cut the dough into two equal halves.
Work gently from here. You want to keep as many air bubbles in your dough as possible.
2. Using wet hands, pinch one side of the dough and stretch it up towards the ceiling, then fold across the dough to the other side. Pinch next to where you pinched last time and repeat. Work your way around the dough, overlapping the previous fold through the centre each time. This process is like wrapping a present tightly. Pull and stretch 12-14 times until your dough becomes tight. It will start to resist as you work until it becomes too difficult. Then you know you’re done!
3. Grab a piece of baking paper and gently place your loaf onto the sheet seam side underneath.
If you don’t mind another step for optimal oven spring, read this post about placing your loaf with the seam side up instead of underneath.
4. Use the baking paper to lower the loaf into a large Tupperware container or oversized bowl.
5. Seal with the Tupperware lid or cling wrap and place into your refrigerator for a minimum of 10 hours, and up to 24 hours.
That’s it until you bake!
1. Preheat your oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 250°C (482°F). Remember to add your Dutch Oven, Pizza Stone or chosen bake-ware. The heat absorbed during this time is super important in helping the loaf rise.
2. After the oven has been on for an hour, take your loaf out of the fridge. Lift it from the container using the baking paper and place it on the bench.
3. Brush your sourdough loaf generously with water* and lightly dust with flour.
4. Using the sharpest knife you have or a razor blade move deeply, quickly and confidently on an angle through the loaf. If you go slow, the knife will drag the dough. This helps control the oven spring and make your loaf look professional.
6. Your loaf is cooked when it sounds hollow as you knock it on the bottom with your knuckles. (Like knocking on a door.)
*Wetting your sourdough loaf stops the crust from forming early and restricting the size of the loaf. It also helps to add gloss to the crust and make it crunchy.
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