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 result?

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.

16 comments:

Nat said...

Hi MS, This looks so wholesome ! I love a good thick crust, and I feel that the texture you've achieved really contributes to a really rustic look/ feel, which I LOVE. I just checked out John Ross's recipe on how to get the starter going. I am not a sour dough snob ( at the moment : ) ) so I might cheat a bit and use a little yeast to get the sponge going. Just curious MS...I was wondering how old is your current starter ?

Murasaki Shikibu said...

Nat: Hi. I did a Sourdough Diary and the blog entry for Day 1 & 2 is: Monday, March 16, 2009. That's when I mixed my flour with water and started making my starter. I just followed his instructions and voila - I had a starter in about 7 days. I think you can make one without using any yeast. I was careful about keeping the starter in a high place as warm air always moves up and used Brita water.

Palidor said...

Thanks for sharing your adventures with spelt. It's good to know how it differs from all-purpose flour. I don't know anything about it, so sorry that I can't help or offer any advice.

♥peachkins♥ said...

That bread looks awesome!

Anncoo said...

I think your skill in making bread is getting better and better, Salute to you :D

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

I love that you are branching out and trying new flours. The bread looks great!

Elra said...

Never made it with spelt flour, but I will soon, especially after seeing the photo of your bread.

taste traveller said...

It might be the spelt that produces such a nice crust. There's a local bakery that is known for it's organic/healthy breads. The only thing I eat there is the spelt bread - it's heavenly - soft center with a nice crust and it keeps much better than other breads (although I also eat it faster, too)

Lori said...

I heard that about spelt- it lets go of water rapidly. I guess if you let it sit though it will reabsorb.

I am guessing that is why it has such a crusty crust.

The bread looks really good. Oh and I am still so jealous of your starter. I think I need to try again after a couple failed attempts.

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

What a handsome oaf. I love the sound of that crust. Moresih bread this! My starter died on me that last time I attempted! Sigh...

Dorte said...

Oh, your bread looks so good. I did not know that thing! Anyhow, I will not be baking while in Vienna, they really make nice bread here and there are so many different to try!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

My daughter loves cooking with spelt flour and has been bugging me to give it a try. She also highly recommends millet flour. I love that you used the spelt with your sourdough loaf. It sounds great!

pigpigscorner said...

wow, it looks great! I've never dealt with spelt flour before, interesting.

Trish said...

Sourdough! Here you go again! Grin...sorry I haven't been around but wow...look at you...using spelt now! You are really going into this bread making thing full force. My arthritic wrists are stopping me from bread making this year.....AND because there are no teenage boys milling about the house to eat it. I refuse to go to a bread maker!!! Grin. This looks good ... I am proud of you girl!

Lori said...

Wow I can not believe you know about Ithaca. It really is a small world, isnt it?

Jamie said...

Gorgeous bread! I dream of producing a loaf like that! I would love to see the inside!