The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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This bread is a variation of a recipe for Dinkelvollkornbrot by Nils' from Ye Olde Bread Blogge. The original recipe, found in his excellent book, calls entirely for spelt. I've made quite a few recipes from this book and each has been extraordinary. Nils' formula produces a moist bread with mildly sour undertones. I enjoyed it with cucumber sandwiches and also with a thin smear of plum butter. The formula needs no modification, and I wouldn't have bothered if I hadn't run out of spelt meal.

My goal was to make a more assertive bread without compromising all of the original's pleasant qualities. My variation is to omit yeast, use blackstrap molasses, use extra water, and use rye meal. I actually made this bread twice. The extra water necessitated a longer baking time, but I underestimated the first time and ended up with a rather gummy center. In addition to giving it a longer bake at a lower temperature, I let it rest for an additional 12 hours before slicing. These simple steps cured the gummy center.

Formula - Sunflower Seed Spelt 


Spelt Sour

  • 75g whole-spelt flour

  • 45g water

  • 1 tsp mature 100% rye sourdough


  • 75g sunflower seeds

  • 25g flaxseeds

  • 150g rye meal

  • 340g water


Final Dough

  • 170g whole-spelt flour

  • 130g water

  • 15g Blackstrap molasses

  • 10g salt



  • Prepare the soaker and spelt sour, let sit for 15-20 hours. 

  • Mix all ingredients until smooth and knead lightly in bowl for around 5 minutes, or until gluten from spelt develops.

  • Bulk rise for around 2 hours, pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment, and proof for an addition 1-2 hours.

  • Bake under normal steam at 450F for 5 minutes, reduce to 400F for 20 minutes, and finish off at 375F for 55 minutes. Wrap tightly in cloth towels and let cool for 36 hours before slicing.

Nils' recipe calls for yeast, which I omitted. My rye starter is not as happy to feed on spelt, so my rising times were probably a little longer than what I've indicated above.

This bread was excellent with Turkey, cream cheese, sprouts, and cranberry sauce. (Vegan versions for me, but I'm sure it's just as good with the regular stuff).


This is a poor picture due to sloppy slicing and a bum exposure. The crumb is actually denser than the photo would indicate.

Sunflower Spelt


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I make a variation of this bread each Sunday; I've done so for the last several months. The result has steadily improved.


      My goal is a whole-grain bread that stands on its own. I don't eat many sandwiches, but enjoy slices of bread for lunch or breakfast. I have practical demands from the bread I make: long shelf-life, versatile, and relatively easy to produce.

      I've experimented a lot (pumpkin seeds in one week's loaf, not a success), but none of it has mattered much. I'm such a novice that I think the bread has improved through practice. I had hoped to eventually post with an absolutely perfect formula and method. I realize that I'm not going to achieve this, so I'd rather just post and ask for feedback.

Levain Build

100% Hydration Rye Starter       5%

Whole Rye Flour                          100%

Water                                          60%


1.) Mix, aerate well, and let sit for 12-18 hours.


Final Dough

WW Flour                                     66%

Whole Rye                                   14%

Whole Spelt                                 20%

Water                                          67%

Levain                                          20%

Salt                                              4.5%

Molasses                                     5.6%

Olive Oil                                       3.5%


1.) Mix flours, water, molasses, and oil. Let rest for 45 minutes at room temp.

2.) Mix in salt and starter.

3.) Knead well, moderate gluten development. It's wet, but comes together eventually. By hand, it takes around 20 minutes with a resting period.

4.) Bulk ferment 2 hours @ room temp, stretch and fold, ferment another hour, stretch and fold.

5.) Shape, place into fridge for 18 hours.

6.)  Bake straight from fridge in 475F oven for 15 minutes under regular steam. Lower temp to 425 and bake until done. (It darkens quickly in my oven, so I place a piece of tinfoil on top to prevent too dark a crust.)

Notes: I live in Arizona, which is very dry. My flour is thirsty! I'd adjust the hydration in a normal climate. Also, some of the rye flour can be replaced with rye meal. This improves the rye flavor and provides an interesting texture.


The result is a sour loaf with a complex rye/wheat flavor; spelt adds a sweet hint. It toasts well, dips well in soup, and stands up to Dijon. 



manicbovine's picture

I am happy to have found a bread that my wife and I agree upon. I prefer hearty flavors (that stand up to obscene amounts of toppings and sauce), whereas she prefers tender white breads. It's important to find this balance given that the bread I bake is the bread we're both stuck with until I bake a new batch.

I picked up a copy of Local Breads from the Library. I recently came back from living in Europe and have been profoundly disappointed with the quality of breads in my part of the US. I grabbed this book in hopes of finding something (anything!) resembling the breads I enjoyed while living abroad. I'm still a novice baker, so I found the first chapter of this book to be pretty informative. Leader directly contradicts a few of the things I've read from equally respectable bread-makers, but I unfortunately cannot remember specific points.


The first bread my wife wanted was Pain au Levain. Obtaining this book coincided with receiving a shipment of Graham and Pumpernickel flours from Hodgson Mills. I was happy to try these flours by substituting them for the whole wheat and rye flours called for by Leader.

The dough seemed to take an extraordinarily long time to knead. This may have stemmed from my instinct to knead out the bits of coarse flour, or perhaps it is because my sourdough starter seems to produce ridiculously sticky dough (I have no idea if this is normal). The dough was still sticky after 20 minutes of rigorous dough slapping (and two resting periods!). It eventually developed a grand gluten structure, stretching easily into an almost-clear windowpane. The "sticky sourdough" issue lasted until baking time; the dough even stuck to my finger when I poked it to see how it was coming along. I should note that I had this issue with my last batch of sourdough. It made the dough very difficult to shape and score. I blame the flatness of my batards on my inability to get a very good surface tension.


The flavor of this bread is fantastic. The graham flour gave it a nice sweet/nutty flavor. This flavor, however, is perhaps a little too pronounced in the crust. The coarse flours give it a nice, pleasant texture and an appealing look.


The problem with this bread is the crust. I am not one to shy away from good hearty chewing. I like to know that I'm eating. I'd like to say I have a jaw that could chew through tin cans, but luckily I haven't tried. This crust, however, is beyond me. I baked the bread a little too long, but I don't think it was so long as to produce such a thick crust. I'm wondering if the problem stems from my sticky sourdough issues. The other problem with this bread is that the graham flour is too pronounced in the crust. I have a random feeling that this might actually be due to over-baking. 


At any rate, this is the result of following Leader's formula (including the cast iron skillet and ice cubes, which I won't do again), but substituting whole wheat flour for graham flour and pumpernickel for rye flour.


Leader Pain au Levain Crumb


Is it common for sourdough to be sticky? It seems to be the norm with my starter. Would the sticky dough contribute to a thick crust, or did I simply bake this bread too long? I have a poor oven with a whopping 75F error in temperature (it changes each day). This makes it nearly impossible to predict baking times.


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