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Sunny Spelt Sourdough Recipe

by Saara

The Sunny Spelt Sourdough gets its flavors from freshly pressed orange juice & orange zest. The bread has thin crispy crust & super soft, tender crumb. Tasty as ever. I’m accustomed to baking this sourdough within a 24-28h time frame from start to finish.

This spelt sourdough requires no kneading and is based on stretching and folding instead. In this post, you will see photographs of two differently baked versions of this tasty friend: a dark crust version and a light crust version. You can also print the recipe from the end of the post.

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A dark spelt crust with higher oven temperature bake rustic scoring with a dull blade.

Serious Spelt Talk

I love spelt.

But spelt can be a difficult lover.

Spelt (Triticum spelta) or dinkel wheat has been cultivated since 5000BC. I’ve come to know it in medieval recipes and nowadays I add a touch spelt in sourdough baking every so often because it gives the dough nice extensibility. But making a loaf high on spelt is worth making because of the wonderful mild nutty flavor and the nutritions.

But the ancient grain divides the baking scene. Some say it’s overrated, others complain it’s difficult to bake with. Maybe you have heard about the common complaint that spelt dough has a tendency to spread? Spelt dough has a weaker glutein network but it gives a loaf higher in protein, fat, fiber and minerals. In the end, it’s about your own preferences what kind of bread you want to bite on.

I’ve failed with many spelt sourdough variations. And finally, I have to state the obvious: conflicting information and spelt tips are floating around thanks to both baking books and online recipes. Whether to use less flour or less liquid when substituting normal wheat with spelt? What works for pies and muffins is a different story from sourdough dreams. If you want to get to know spelt better, Bakerpedia has a good summary of all things spelt.

The logic & balance I have in this spelt sourdough recipe

  • I love spelt but I don’t love to deal with 100 percent spelt. The following recipe is more or less 23% spelt with 77% wheat flour which you are free to tweak to your liking.
  • The step by step process. I use organic spelt flour which I buy from different small producers. The quality of the grains varies from one year to the next and there’s no given default how strong the flour is. Hence, I have to give spelt its own time to absorb water & see how new batch of flour behaves with a well-used recipe like this. Also, to my experience spelt requires longer time in room temperature after the final shaping before going to sleep in the fridge.
  • Gentle hands. This is a wet dough yet it stretches so well and is nice to fold. I prefer to bake spelt based sourdoughs wet in oppose to many general recommendations to use less liquid in spelt baking. This is just to my preference, I prefer the crumb soft and moist.

Sunny Spelt Sourdough | Recipe

The following recipe makes one loaf. The evening before prepare the levain: Take 20g of a 100% hydration wheat mother starter and feed it with 30g of water and 30g flour. The next morning, the levain is bubbly and mature to build the dough.

I’ve baked this bread with both finely milled spelt flour and medium milled spelt flour. I prefer to bake this bread as a bâtard and bake the loaf on a baking stone. Similar oval bannetons that I use:

INGREDIENTS

  • 68g levain
  • 117g spelt flour
  • 400g wheat flour
  • 80g freshly pressed (shifted) orange juice
  • 300g + 40g water (room temperature)
  • 11g salt
  • 2g sugar (depending on the sweetness of the juice)
  • 0,5 tsp orange zest (or 1g bitter orange extract)

Delicious soft crumb. Sunny spelt sourdough gets light color from milder oven bake.

The Process

THE DOUGH AND SHAPING

In large bowl, mix levain, 300g of water and spelt together with a spatula. Leave the mix aside while you weigh all the other ingredients and prepare the orange juice as well as zest.

Add orange juice, zest, and wheat flour into the mixture. Keep mixing with your hand until no lumps or dry patches are visible. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes before adding salt.

Poke the dough with your fingers and pour the rest of the water (40g) into the bowl and finally sprinkle salt and sugar in. Incorporate them into the mix well by pressing the dough with your fingers, squeezing and gently folding from the sides into the middle. This takes a couple of minutes, do not over mix. Now let the dough rest covered for 30 minutes.

Oil another bowl and transfer the dough into that. I use mild avocado oil. Now stretch and fold the dough every 30 minutes, 3-4 times in total until you feel the dough is strong enough. Keep the bowl covered in between foldings. If you have not folded before, here’s an example video for reference. The first stretches can feel weird and really wet whereas the last rounds are much more firm. Be gentle. If the dough doesn’t feel firm enough, you can laminate it. Finally, leave the dough to rest covered for another 60min-120min until it has build volume.

Prepare your proofing basket with (rice) flour. This dough is still sticky and a cloth is advised to be used to make extra sure that it doesn’t glue into your breadbasket.

Work on a wet surface. Give the dough a pre-shape. When it has relaxed, shape the bread to your liking making sure that you get tension and a firm shape. I prefer to shape the spelt sourdough as a batard. Let the dough rest in the basket at room temperature (notice some rise? a bit more still?) before transferring it into the fridge for overnight proof.

The Process

OVEN BAKE

Preheat the oven to 230°C | 446°F at least 45 minutes in advance (remember the baking stone and your chosen steaming method). I use an extra baking tray below the stone rack on which I pour 100ml of hot water right after I slide the bread into the oven. Hence, I warm up the tray from the start. Use whatever steaming method you know and feel confident about with your oven.

Cut a piece of parchment paper, size big enough to let you direct the bread with your peel. Quickly and gently swing your batard on your peel. Score the surface right before the oven, shift more flour on top if you want more contrast.  

Carefully slide the bread into the oven. Create steam! Let the bread bake at 220°C | 428°F for 10 minutes. Then, let the steam out, wait 5  minutes, and let steam out again. After 20 minutes, I’ll reduce the temperature to 180°C | 356°F and bake until the temperature inside is 98°C | 208°F inside  (check at 50 minutes). Alternatively, you bake this loaf with a darker crust at a higher temperature.

Let the loaf rest on a cooling rack, lightly covered with a kitchen towel. Do not cut the bread when still warm. You can keep your bread folded in a kitchen towel to enjoy the crispy crust. 

Look at these bits from an experiment, underproof, almost there. No quick wins in sourdough baking.

At the beginning of this post, I shared that lately, I baked two different versions of this recipe. Comparing two different oven techniques, the golden version was baked at lower temperature first 220c + 180c for a longer time whereas with the darker loaf I baked 240C + 190C. Very hot for spelt. We loved them both but the golden version was and is an overall winner. :)

What do you think? I would love to hear about your experiences with spelt.

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Print the recipe here

rustic spelt sourdough

The Sunny Spelt Sourdough

Print recipe
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat

INGREDIENTS

  • 68g levain
  • 117g spelt flour
  • 400g wheat flour
  • 80g freshly pressed (shifted) orange juice
  • 300g + 50g water (room temperature)
  • 11g salt
  • 2g sugar (depending on the sweetness of the juice)
  • 0,3 tsp orange zest (or 1g bitter orange extract)

 

  • vegetable oil
  • rice flour

METHOD

THE DOUGH AND SHAPING

In a large bowl, mix levain, 300g of water and the spelt flour together with a spatula. Leave the mix aside while you weigh all the other ingredients and prepare the orange juice as well as zest.

Add orange juice, zest, and wheat flour into the mixture. Keep mixing with your hand until no lumps or dry patches are visible. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes before adding salt.

Poke the dough with your fingers and pour the rest of the water (40g) into the bowl and finally sprinkle salt and sugar in. Incorporate them into the mix well by pressing the dough with your fingers, squeezing and gently folding from the sides into the middle. This takes a couple of minutes, do not over mix. Now let the dough rest covered for 30 minutes.

Oil another bowl and transfer the dough into that. I use mild avocado oil. Now stretch and fold the dough every 30 minutes, 3-4 times in total until you feel the dough is strong enough. Keep the bowl covered in between foldings. If you have not folded before, here’s an example video for reference. The first stretches can feel weird and really wet whereas the last rounds are much more firm. Be gentle. If the dough doesn't feel firm enough, you can laminate it. Finally, leave the dough to rest covered for another 60min-120min until it has build volume.

Prepare your proofing basket with (rice) flour. This dough is still sticky and a cloth is advised to be used to make extra sure that it doesn’t glue into your breadbasket.

Work on a wet surface. Give the dough a pre-shape. When it has relaxed, shape the bread to your liking making sure that you get tension and a firm shape. I prefer to shape the spelt sourdough as a batard. Let the dough rest in the basket at room temperature (notice some rise? a bit more still?) before transferring it into the fridge for overnight proof.

 

OVEN BAKE

Preheat the oven to 230°C | 446°F at least 45 minutes in advance (remember the baking stone and your chosen steaming method). I use an extra baking tray below the stone rack on which I pour 100ml of hot water right after I slide the bread into the oven. Hence, I warm up the tray from the start. Use whatever steaming method you know and feel confident about with your oven.

Cut a piece of parchment paper, size big enough to let you direct the bread with your peel. Quickly and gently swing your batard on your peel. Score the surface right before the oven, shift more flour on top if you want more contrast.  

Carefully slide the bread into the oven. Create steam! Let the bread bake at 220°C | 428°F for 10 minutes. Then, let the steam out, wait 5  minutes, and let steam out again. After 20 minutes, I'll reduce the temperature to 180°C | 356°F and bake until the temperature inside is 98°C | 208°F inside  (check at 50 minutes). Alternatively, you bake this loaf with a darker crust at a higher temperature.

Let the loaf rest on a cooling rack. Do not cut the bread when still warm. You can keep your bread folded in a kitchen towel to enjoy the crispy crust. 

NOTES

Use warmer water during winter (I had 24°C / 75,2°F). If you don't have organic produce, you can substitute the orange zest with bitter orange extract.

Did you make this recipe?
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