Monday, October 19, 2009
Spelt Flour Sourdough Bread
This is my attempt at incorporating spelt flour into my weekly sourdough baking.
I've been looking at incorporating different grains and seeds into my bread because when you have bread around the house all the time, it can get a bit boring to have the same bread week after week. A German friend had suggested using spelt flour and I happened to find 500g of it at a health food shop in Torremolinos so I snapped it up and it was there sitting in my cupboard waiting to be used.
It was a good thing I did some minor research before I embarked on this attempt as it seems spelt flour has different properties from regular wheat flour. Although it has a much higher protein content which is nice, it apparently has weaker gluten which means that you have to modify your bread baking a bit. Apparently you can overknead spelt whereas this isn't easy to do with wheat flour. I suggest you stop kneading the bread when you think the dough feels good rather than sticking to a fixed time or number of folds any recipe stipulates.
As usual I prepared my bread according to S. John Ross's recipe, but I also incorporated some elements from The Fresh Loaf. Shiao-Ping's baking is very precise and I'm sure that if you followed her instructions to a tee, your bread would be stellar, but I just pulled out easy to incorporate elements into my routine because following every detail was a bit too overwhleming for me.
The only modification I made to S. John Ross's recipe was that I let the bread rest and knead/folded it 3 times before I molded it into a loaf for the final proofing. I also wet my hands when I kneaded/folded the somewhat harder dough (due to the spelt?) to keep it from sticking to my hands. I did this alternately with dusting it with a bit of AP flour.
Anyhow, my spelt flour seemed to absorb water more readily than AP flour (even though spelt is supposed to be less absorbent), so I only added 1 cup AP flour and 1 cup spelt flour to the starter to form my dough this time. The type of spelt flour I used was organic and unbleached.
Further to this, I thought I'd try baking this loaf with a preheated oven and used Shiao-Ping's baking temperatures and times. This meant baking the bread with steam for 20 minutes at 230C and then baking it for another 25 minutes at 220-210C. Before the loaf went into the oven, I dusted it with a bit of AP flour.
The bread had a much thicker, crunchier crust with a lot of flavor.
However, as a result of introducing too many variables, I'm not sure whether it was the repeated kneading/folding, the preheated oven, the spelt flour or a combination of all of these that created this nice thick pleasantly crunchy crust.
Maybe someone can enlighten me.
Note: I feed my starter sometimes with whole wheat flour and sometimes with AP flour. Sometimes it's half and half. Because I fed my starter with 100% whole wheat flour last week, the starter itself was already pretty thick and dark when I started.