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- 🌾 What is Spelt, and what does it taste like?
- 👨🏫 Baker’s Percentage Chart
- 🛠 Tools Needed for Spelt Sourdough Bread
- 🛒 Ingredients Needed for Spelt Sourdough Bread
- 👨🍳 How to Make Spelt Sourdough Bread
- 1. Build the Levain:
- 2. Autolyse:
- 3. Add Levain:
- 4. Add Salt & Mix:
- 5. Bulk Fermentation:
- 6. Shape:
- 7. Overnight Proof:
- 8. Score & Bake:
- How to Serve Spelt Sourdough Bread
- How to Store Spelt Sourdough Bread
- ❓Spelt Sourdough Bread FAQs:
- Spelt Sourdough Bread
- Other Recipes You Might Like:
Last Updated on August 14, 2023
The first time I included spelt flour in sourdough bread, I was mesmerized by its nutty flavor and creamy texture. This Spelt Sourdough Bread has just the right amount of spelt for an enchanting taste, it but doesn’t overwhelm the loaf or compromise the structure of the bread.
Baking with new flour requires adjustments due to each flour’s unique properties. Spelt is no exception.
Mixing this spelt sourdough bread more upfront in recipe testing combats some of its extensibility. Besides bread flour, it’s the only other flour added, so the spelt infuses every bite.
If you’re used to baking bread with white wheat flour, I highly suggest experimenting with new varieties, like spelt flour. Note a new flour’s smells, textures, and flavor, and make adjustments as you mix, proof, and bake each time. Just imagine you’re a flour sommelier!
Spelt flour is an excellent springboard to dive into flour experimentation. It’s easy to include in many baking recipes to add some interest to a tried and true recipe.
🌾 What is Spelt, and what does it taste like?
Spelt is an “ancient grain” that’s a species of wheat. Spelt and other ancient grains have recently grown in popularity due to their supposed nutritious and health benefits.
Technically, “ancient grains” is a marketing term that refers to wheat and cereal grains that haven’t been altered as much through selective breeding. Some other ancient grain wheats, grains, and cereals include emmer, einkorn, quinoa, chia, buckwheat, and oats.
Like other wheat varieties, spelt flour contains gluten, so it’s not a substitute for those with gluten allergies or sensitivities. It does have less gluten than typical wheat, though.
Spelt has a nutty flavor that’s sweet yet mild. However, it can taste acidic in large amounts, so this recipe is not 100% spelt.
How to Bake with Spelt Flour
Most spelt flour you purchase will be whole grain. You can see specks of orange or brown flakes in whole-grain spelt, which is part of the wheat husk. The whole grains contribute more color and an orange hue to spelt loaves.
Whole wheat flour and whole grains lend excellent flavor and heartiness to bread. However, 100% whole wheat bread can be dense. This is often countered in baking by increasing the hydration of a whole-wheat-forward loaf. Interestingly, spelt flour is more water-soluble than typical whole wheat flour; thus, spelt flour requires less water in baking.
Spelt flour is also very extensible in bread baking. Extensibility refers to how stretchy a dough is before it starts to tear.
As bread baking balances extensibility and elasticity (how much a dough bounces back), you must make mixing adjustments when employing spelt flour. For example, I tend to mix more upfront when using spelt flour because the dough relaxes during bulk fermentation.
You can substitute spelt flour instead of whole wheat flour in most bread recipes following the above mentioned mixing and hydration recommendations.
👨🏫 Baker’s Percentage Chart
I include a baker’s percentage chart to scale a recipe up or down easily. With baker’s percentages, the total weight of all flour in the recipe is 100%. I also include the prefermented flour from the levain in this flour weight. Finally, I note the ingredients proportionally to the total weight of flour (in this case, 430g of total flour). That’s why the percentages below will add up to over 100%.
If you want to learn more, the King Arthur website has a more detailed reference page on why and how baker’s percentages are calculated.
|Bread Flour||295 grams (includes 15g for levain*)||68.6%|
|Spelt Flour||135 grams (includes 15g for levain)||31.4%|
|Sea Salt||8 grams||1.9%|
|Water||330 grams (includes 30g for levain)||76.7%|
|Sourdough starter||30 grams (all for levain)||7%|
*Note: If you do not want to build a levain, use about 80-90 grams of active sourdough starter instead.
🛠 Tools Needed for Spelt Sourdough Bread
Click on the toggles below for more information, recommendations, and possible substitutes. Check out my sourdough tools page for more information on my favorite bread-baking tools.
Cast Iron Dutch Oven
I love baking with my Challenger Bread Pan. It bakes excellent sourdough bread for a home baker and is heavy-duty cast iron.
It’s large enough for baking different shapes and even fits a couple of demi-baguettes. I couldn’t recommend this pan enough to elevate your sourdough baking.
The Lodge Double Dutch Oven is a smaller, economical option that also produces a great loaf. I’ve used Lodge’s enameled dutch oven with success as well. However, these pans are circular and will only fit boules.
I always list ingredients by weight in grams because it is the most accurate way to measure baking ingredients. Use a scale, and your baking will immediately be better!
I love my Escali baking scale and use it every day. The batteries last a long time, the scale is accurate, and it comes in many colors.
My favorite bread lame for scoring sourdough is the UFO Bread Lame from Wire Monkey. It’s easy to handle, sleek, and has a sharp blade to cut through the dough easily.
I’ve used many bench scrapers, but this Lamson bench scraper is my favorite and highest-quality one. It’s sturdy, has a beautiful walnut handle, and is handcrafted near me in Massachusetts.
Banneton Proofing Basket
Optional but helpful: Brød & Taylor Folding Proofer
This folding proofing box by Brød & Taylor is a game changer to keep your sourdough starter and doughs at the perfect temperature while proofing.
My sourdough baking immediately improved when I got my proofer.
The proofer folds up easily, includes a humidity tray, is multifunctional, and can even be a slow cooker.
🛒 Ingredients Needed for Spelt Sourdough Bread
Click on the toggles below for more information, recommendations, and possible substitutes.
King Arthur Bread Flour has a high protein content and is the brand of bread flour I use for most recipes. However, another high-quality and high-protein content bread flour would work as well.
Fine Ground Sea Salt is the best salt for sourdough bread. While you only need a little to bake with, salt makes a big difference in your bread’s flavor and dough structure.
Sea salt absorbs more quickly than Kosher Salt and has no metallic flavor like table salt.
👨🍳 How to Make Spelt Sourdough Bread
Follow this visual and detailed guide to help you make the best Spelt Sourdough Bread.
1. Build the Levain:
You don’t need a spelt sourdough starter to make this bread, although that would be ideal. Instead, I make a one-time levain of 50% bread flour and 50% spelt flour.
Mix 30g sourdough starter, 15g bread flour, 15g spelt flour, and 30g water in an empty jar.
Cover and set in a warm location (between 75-80ºF) for about five hours until bubbly and ripe. The levain should at least double in size during this time.
Note: Please refer to my guide on How To Make A Sourdough Starter if you do not have an active sourdough starter and the FAQ section on that page where I explain the difference between a starter and a levain.
See my Top 10 Sourdough Starter Tips for Success for extra tips to make a more robust sourdough starter.
About 30 minutes before the levain is ripe, mix 280g bread flour and 120g spelt flour in a bowl.
Make a well in the flour and pour 290 grams of room-temperature water in a medium bowl.
Use your hands, a silicone spatula, or a flexible bench scraper to mix the flour for a couple of minutes until it is hydrated. The dough will be quite sticky and stiff. It’s okay if some floury spots remain.
Cover the bowl and set aside in a warm location until the levain is ready.
Note: Autolyse helps kickstart gluten development for sourdough and only consists of flour and water. You do not add the salt or levain/sourdough starter during autolyse.
I typically autolyse for at least an hour and up to three hours, but this autolyse is shorter since the spelt is so extensible.
3. Add Levain:
When the levain is bubbly and ripe, add all the levain (or 80-90 grams of sourdough starter) on top of the autolysed dough.
Use your hands to dimple the levain into the dough. Then, stretch and fold the dough onto itself for a few minutes until you thoroughly incorporate the levain into the dough.
To stretch and fold:
- Use your hand as pincers to pull up a portion of the dough.
- Lift the dough to stretch it, then fold it down in the middle of the bowl.
- Rotate the bowl and repeat this motion.
Cover the bowl and rest in a warm location for 30 minutes.
4. Add Salt & Mix:
After 30 minutes, sprinkle 8 grams of sea salt and 10 grams of water on top of the dough.
Dimple in the sea salt and begin mixing the dough. Stretch and fold the dough for 7-10 minutes.
At the end of mixing, the dough should be smoother, you shouldn’t feel any salt granules in the dough, and it should be more extensible. We will continue to add strength to the dough during bulk fermentation and shaping.
Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
5. Bulk Fermentation:
At 78ºF, bulk fermentation (first proof) takes about 3.5-4 hours. Bulk fermentation can be speedier with more whole grains (especially if freshly milled).
If your dough and environment are colder, bulk fermentation will take longer. Conversely, in warmer conditions, bulk fermentation will be faster.
Notes: An instant-read thermometer like the Thermapen is a great tool to check your dough temperature throughout bulk fermentation. Furthermore, the Brød and Taylor folding proofer is a perfect tool to keep your dough at a consistent temperature range.
Stretch & Folds
Since spelt is very extensible, I do not perform gentle coil folds on this dough. Instead, I only perform stretch & folds, which are stronger folds and will develop more gluten. This is to ensure the dough keeps its shape later during shaping (elasticity).
Add more folds if you notice the dough is still very slack and stretchy (extensible) between folds, especially during the last fold.
- Perform two stretch & folds in 15-minute intervals, another two in 30-minute intervals, and the final fold in one hour (a total of 5 folds). Add more stretch and folds if the dough is still very slack after the last fold. The dough rests in bulk fermentation for the remainder of the time.
Bulk fermentation is complete when the dough is risen about 50%, feels full of air, and there are visible bubbles on top of and around the dough.
Note: See my Bulk Fermentation 101 guide for a detailed analysis and more clues on how to know bulk fermentation is complete.
Note: I typically only preshape dough if it feels very slack or includes a gluten-free flour like my buckwheat sourdough recipe.
For a batard, I like shaping this dough into an envelope package, as seen below, before placing it into a banneton.
Moving quickly and using the bench scraper if needed, invert the dough and gently place it into a floured banneton.
I stitch this dough to add extra strength since it can still be quite slack.
7. Overnight Proof:
Cover the banneton and place it in a refrigerator overnight for up to 48 hours.
The overnight proof, or retard, will give additional flavor to the dough and slow down fermentation.
8. Score & Bake:
Place an empty cast iron dutch oven in the oven and preheat at 500ºF (260ºC) for an hour.
After an hour, remove the cold dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a small piece of parchment paper.
Using a sharp bread lame, score the dough.
I usually score this sourdough with one C-shaped slash for a batard (oval). For a boule (round), score the dough with a cross pattern in the center of the dough or another design. The score should be about ¼”-½” deep.
Carefully place the scored dough with parchment into the dutch oven, add two ice cubes in the oven for additional steam if using a cast iron pan, and immediately cover with the lid.
Bake at 500ºF (260ºC) for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid, turn down the oven to 450ºF (232ºC) and bake with the lid off for 20 minutes.
Let the bread cool for at least an hour on a wire rack before slicing.
How to Serve Spelt Sourdough Bread
Be sure to allow any sourdough bread to cool for at least an hour before slicing. Slicing too early will result in steam loss, and the bread will dry out sooner.
This sourdough is great on its own, as a side with soup or chili, toast, grilled cheese, paninis, or lunch sandwiches.
You’ll notice that the crumb on spelt sourdough may not be as open as other loaves. That’s because of the large amount of spelt in the loaf, which ultimately leads to lower hydration.
How to Store Spelt Sourdough Bread
Once sliced, store sourdough bread cut side down. This helps the loaf retain more moisture so it doesn’t dry out and become stale.
Wrap the loaf in a tea towel and place it in a bread bag, bread box, or brown paper bag, where it will stay fresh for a couple of days. After a couple of days, you may need to reheat or toast slices.
You can freeze sourdough bread for months by cutting slices and placing them in a freezer-safe bag. Then, reheat the frozen slices in a toaster oven, toaster, or oven.
If your bread stales, turn it into sourdough croutons and make this Sourdough Panzanella with Peaches & Burrata.
❓Spelt Sourdough Bread FAQs:
Is spelt sourdough bread gluten-free?
No. Spelt is a variety of wheat and contains gluten, although it does contain less than typical wheat. This recipe includes bread flour as well.
Is this spelt sourdough bread recipe vegan?
Yes! The only ingredients are natural sourdough yeast, bread flour, spelt flour, salt, and water.
Can I add toppings or inclusions to spelt sourdough bread?
Sure! I opt to let the spelt be the predominant flavor of this loaf, but you’re welcome to add toppings. Oats, sesame seeds, wheat germ, or a mix of seeds would all be great toppings.
Spelt Sourdough Bread
- Build the Levain:In a clean jar, mix the sourdough starter, bread and spelt flour, and water for the levain.Cover and set in a warm location (between 75-80ºF) for about five hours until it is ripe. The ripe levain should at least double in size and be full of bubbles and gases.30 grams Sourdough Starter, 15 grams Bread Flour, 30 grams Water, 15 grams Spelt Flour
- Autolyse:About 30 minutes before the levain is ripe, begin autolyse. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flours. Create a well in the center of the bowl and pour in 290 grams of water.Mix together the flour and water just until it comes together and there are minimal dry bits of flour left. The dough will be very sticky during mixing.Cover and rest 30 minutes or so until the levain is ripe.280 grams Bread Flour, 120 grams Spelt Flour, 300 grams Water
- Add Levain, Salt, and Mix:Add all the levain to the mixing bowl. Dimple the levain into the dough and stretch and fold the dough upon itself for a few minutes to combine.Cover and rest 30 minutes.Sprinkle the sea salt on top of the dough along with 10 grams of water. Dimple the salt and water into the dough. Stretch and fold the dough upon itself for 7-10 minutes until thoroughly mixed. At the end of mixing, the dough will be smooth, you should not feel any individual salt granules between your fingers, and the dough will be more extensible.Cover and rest 15 minutes.80-90 grams Levain, 8 grams Sea Salt
- Bulk Fermentation:At 78ºF (26ºC), bulk fermentation typically takes about 3.5-4 hours.Perform two stretch & folds in 15-minute intervals, another two in 30-minute intervals, and the final fold in one hour (a total of 5 folds). Add more stretch and folds if the dough is still very slack after the last fold. The dough rests in bulk fermentation for the remainder of the time.At the end of bulk fermentation, the dough should be smooth and rounded, feel full of air, have visible bubbles, and should wobble/jiggle if shaken. The dough should rise about 50%.
- Shaping:Lightly flour the top of the dough in the mixing bowl and the bench/counter. Gently loosen the dough from the sides of the mixing bowl to turn the dough out onto the counter.With the help of a bench scraper, shape the dough into a batard (oval) or boule (round) and place it seam-side down into a floured banneton.Stitch the dough in the banneton if it is still loose or lost any shape.
- Cold Overnight Proof:Cover the banneton and place in a cold refrigerator to proof overnight and up to 48 hours.
- Bake:Place the empty dutch oven with lid in the oven and preheat for an hour at 500°F (260ºC).When the dutch oven has preheated for an hour, remove the banneton from the refrigerator. Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Using a bread lame or sharp knife, score the dough with one slash for a batard (oval) or a cross-section for a boule (round). The score should be ¼-½" deep.Transfer the scored dough to the baking vessel and cover it with the lid.Bake at 500°F (260ºC) for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, lower the oven temperature to 450ºF (232ºC) and bake for 20 minutes with the lid off.Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.Slice and enjoy!
- Try to keep the dough at a constant, warm temperature (between 75-80ºF) as much as possible throughout fermentation. I use the Brød and Taylor bread proofer to keep my dough at a constant 78ºF. If your dough and environment are cooler, bulk fermentation will take longer. Conversely, in warmer conditions, the dough will ferment faster.
- Read my guide above for a detailed walkthrough with photos and videos for shaping, scoring, and baking this bread.