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help for newbie: 100% spelt loaf

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MScmom's picture
MScmom

help for newbie: 100% spelt loaf

Hello all!
What a wonderful community I am happy to now be a part of! This site has already answered SO many of my questions and helped to demystify the art of bread baking.

I have been trying to make a 100% spelt loaf for some time. It always turns out so-so, but not great. We have a 100% spelt bread available at the store, but it is really expensive and I keep staring at the ingredient list (which is very simple) and saying, "Surely I can make this myself!!!" But of course, now that I have discovered this site, I appreciate to what degree the ingredients are not the only important aspect.

So I have found this link for a wonderful sounding Pugliese spelt bread, with a link to a google docs spreadsheet.(the recipe of interest is the last at the bottom of the post, NOT the sourdoughs)

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/28855/spelt-beach

And here is where I need help! There is very little detail posted for what to do with the ingredients, because  all you expert bread makers presumably know what to do , but I don't! I need WAY more detail on what to do with the ingredients. 

In rough form, here is what I think:

1. It is my understanding that i would use the ingredients under 'biga', to make the biga {activate the yeast, put other things together and knead it for (5 min? I hear spelt should not be kneaded too much...)} Stick it in the fridge overnight.

2. Next morning I would put together the other ingredients (at the top of the spreadsheet) {activate the yeast, add other ingredients}, ** then add all (?) of the biga, cut into chunks, and knead for 5 minutes ? (why are the ingredients repeated again at the bottom of the spreadsheet? Is this just for formula verification?)

3. Then I would let sit in a bowl at 26C to rise for 2 hours.

4. Here is a particularly big question: In the comments thread it says not to deflate the dough here. So what do I do? Just put it into a loaf pan with gentle reshaping? Then wait 40 min. and bake it.

5. And then what? At what temperature do I bake it and for how long? do I use steam? Do I transfer it to a preheated bread pan?

I understand that many of my questions are part of the 'art' of making bread and will be up to me, but I would appreciate help especially making sure I am making the biga correctly and kneading for the correct amount of time and allowing the loaf to sit/rise 'correctly'.

Thank you so much in advance!!!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

this is a tough test for a newbie.  Juergen is one fine baker and 100% spelt loaf is not for the faint hearted.  The top of the spreadsheet is the total amount for the entire bread including the biga and the dough below.  IF you add the biga amounts and the dough amounts the will total the amounts at the top.

You make the biga using those ingredients only.  Since they is only a small amoumt of yeast this will take a while for it to get fully active depending on your temperatures.  Do not put this in the fridge.  Let it sit on the counter for up  to 12 hours or so.

Then mix up the dough portion below and add the biga to it making the total amount at the top of the formula.  I think you want to mix the dough and develop what little gluten there is for some time. I would say by machine until windowpane  or by hand using slap and folds for 10 minutes with a rest and then 5 minutes more until it doesn't stick to the counter,  You want to make sure that  get it well developed because that is all you rae going to get to hold it together 

During the 2 hour bulk ferment  you do 2 stretch and folds I just gently pull and fold over from each compass point one time and then rest.  I would do one set at 45 minutes and one at 90 minutes and be gentle when doing them.  At the 2 hour mark you want to try and shape them as gently as possible trying not to degas them too much while doing so as the dough is fragile.

Good luck with your spelt.  Perhaps Juergen will see this and give you some more pointers or you could message him

Happy baking

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Let's be brutal and call him out!   :)

Mcsmom, any extra info about the flour might also be helpful.  Where is it from and how fine it is, protein and fiber content, etc.  Some of the stuff written on the package.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Mscmom,

Juergen does indeed have wonderful formulas.

Here is my take on  his Spelt loaf. ( I bake a spelt of his but with sd and it is excellent so I imagine this one will be too.)

Yes.  Biga is mixed first using the ingredients highlighted in green on the spread sheet.  It can sit out or be refrigerated overnight to ferment.  If left at room temp. watch it closely so it doesn't over ferment.  If your ferment it in the refrig. in the morning take it out a couple of hours before you plan to mix it with the final ingredients so it can warm up and finish fermenting.

No. You do not mix the biga with the top ingredients.  That is his list of all of the ingredients in the formula.  You want to go to the ingredient list below the biga and mix the highlighted green items in your bowl.  The biga gets added to this.  Depending on the consistency of the biga you may have to break it up a bit prior to adding it to the final dough.

Mix as you would to develop the gluten so the dough is strong.  Relative term….you want it so it holds together when pulled gently  rather than being one clump that just falls apart.  A 'windowpane' of dough is what you are after but with spelt it won't be as strong as with wheat….

Next step depends on the temp. in your kitchen.  You let all of the dough bulk ferment until it doubles in size.  (Mark your bowl so you know when that happens.)  When poked the dough should be relaxed but not to the point that where you poke it you get a hole.  Hole should gently fill up slowly when it is ready.

At this point you gently shape it into a loaf shape and allow it to do its final rise.  He has that marked at 40 minutes.  You will have to watch your dough due to the temps in your kitchen it may take longer than his did.  What you are looking for is a rise of about 70% rather than doubling.  This gives the dough a nice spring when you bake it.

I find the trick to getting a nice light spelt loaf is in the kneading.  If it is not kneaded long enough….a heavier bread will result.  You can just experiment with different times and strengths until you get the kind of loaf you want.

Hope this help….I know when I began baking a couple of years ago I was clueless about the math.  Now I can't live   without it and I learned how to understand it all here.  If you can find the links explaining it in detail you will find that it isn't all that hard to grasp and it will make your baking life much easier…..well,  I should say, it has made my baking life a lot easier :)

Have Fun,

Janet

MScmom's picture
MScmom

Right now I have a whole spelt flour, but I have access to an unbleached all-purpose spelt. They are from Oak Manor here in Ontario (Canada): http://oakmanorfarms.ca/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=43_46

The whole spelt has 5g/40g of fibre and 5g/40g for protein.

So if I understand correctly, my dough may be fairly wet when I start, but by going through this fold and flap kneading, it will stop being sticky, and then I will know that I have kneaded it enough? I'm thinking my dough may have been too dry to start with in my past attempts: my thinking had been that I should keep adding flour until it wasn't sticky, and then start kneading, but then it would get pretty hard pretty fast, like a few minutes.

Thank you all so much for responding! I'll be studying your directions carefully. I will consider messaging Juergen depending on the results of my next attempt, but I certainly feel that I have a lot to go on at this point!

 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

HERE  is a link to a photo of a 'windowpane'.  What it demonstrates is that the gluten is strong and will therefore allow the loaf to rise and contribute to a soft  texture because the CO2 trapped by the dough will not leak out.  The strength of the gluten acts kinda like a ballon - it holds the air in the dough where you want it.  

A loaf that comes out feeling like a brick may be due to a number of factors which could include the dough was not kneaded long enough or there wasn't enough liquid in the dough. This may be happening to yours since you were adding flour until the dough wasn't sticky anymore.  Flour takes time to absorb liquid which is why letting it sit awhile allows it to hydrate more fully.  Spelt will be stickier than ww and it generally uses less water than ww.  

There are a couple of ways to keep dough from not sticking to you as you knead.  Use damp hands or use a bit of flour but realize that anything you add will end up in the final dough making it either too wet or too dry….ie - use sparingly.

I do not use the S&F technique of kneading.  I use a mixer and I always let my dough rest for an hour after I have combined the flour, water and starter.  (I save the other ingredients until the gluten has developed.)  This allows the flour to absorb the liquid and it also allows the gluten to start to develop so that it needs less kneading when I get back to it.  

Please note that your dough will behave differently than mine because I use 100% freshly milled whole grains and they take longer to absorb moisture.  I also bake using WY instead of IY.

I should also mention that taking notes on what you do each time you attempt to bake will help you keep track of what changes you are making and how it affects your outcome.  It is a wise thing to only change one factor at a time if you can or things can get complicated. :O

Take Care,

Janet

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

about adding any flour to the dough until I have kneaded, which ever way you prefer, until 6 minutes passes and longer for higher hydration dough.  i can usually tell if it needs more flour or water by then.  I prefer to do slap and folds so that i can get a good feel for the dough.  it should stop sticking to the counter surface by 6-8 minutes even if it started out wet

For 100% spelt and 100% hydration I can usually get 20 minutes of slap and folds in, rest it for 10 minutes and do another 1o minutes of slap and folds before it is ready.  For 100% whole spelt and 100% hydration,  i sift out the bran and soak it overnight, develop the gluten with the rest of the flour and then fold the bran in with a stretch and fold I(not the same as slap and folds) and then one more set 15 minute later.

Less hydration will mean less time developing the gluten but the holes will be smaller.  You can't taste the holes much though.  You can always add more flour so there is no rush to do so.

Here is what a 100% spelt and 90% hydration looks like after the gluten is developed at 20 minutes of slap and folds

 And here is what it lookd like at 10 minutes of slap and folds.  Hope this helps and happy baking.

elight's picture
elight

dabrownman, very impressive. I just finished doing slap and folds for a 100% white spelt sourdough loaf (in fairness, about 5% is vital wheat gluten... so 95% white spelt, I suppose). It was at only 60% hydration, but a good portion of the dough came from my 75% hydration white spelt sourdough starter. The dough had the same feel as a yeasted loaf at 70%. A few things I have learned in the past week or two with spelt and the Bertinet/French/slap-and-fold method:

1) Spelt gluten seems to break down very quickly, especially when underdeveloped. My spelt sourdough starter is kept at 75% hydration; when at 100%, it is soup at the end of the feeding cycle.

2) For the reasons stated above, formulas with spelt cannot be converted from a yeasted loaf directly to a sourdough loaf; the hydration needs to be adjusted down.

3) Spelt seemed to gain and lose strength quite quickly. After just a minute or two of working the dough, it feels strong to the point where it can't be slapped and folded any more. But after resting it even just 30 seconds, it returns to a loose consistency that can be worked again. This makes it difficult to know when it's truly done being worked.

Would love to know if other people share these same experiences, or if I am perhaps doing something wrong. Also, would love to know what brand flour other folks are using (mine is VitaSpelt).

elight's picture
elight

As a reply to my own post... I had my second attempt at a spelt sourdough loaf bulk fermenting overnight last night. It was very loose. I did a few stretch and folds spaced out about 30 minutes each to try to regain some strength, but the gluten strands seemed to start pulling apart even more. I did 5 more minutes of slap-and-folding, it regained some strength, but not enough to keep it together during proofing. Here it is during proofing:

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

My experience with spelt at anything over 90% HL is that it needs support while proofing which means I generally proof my high hydration spelt loaves in loaf pans or in brotforms.  

Your dough looks like mine would if not supported during the final proof so I am thinking that your dough simply needs more support.

Take Care,

Janet

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Mini once told me that if it's over 80% hydration and not chibatta it belongs in a pan :-)  With hydration over that I would either pan it up or put it in baskets before retarding it.  I would take it out of the fridge at 80% proof and let it warm up for no more than a n hour so it would still be very cool, easy to score and not spread too much when it hits the heat.

If not retarding, then I would proof it to 80% and then refrigerate it for 30-45 minutes to make scoring easier and keep it from spreading.  Just take it out, slash and bake it off.

Youa re right.  Spelt seems to lose its structure in about 2 minutes after slap and folds.   It doesn't mean the gluten its degraded though.   If supported and then retarded it shoule work fine for you.

Hydration really depends on what spelt you are using.  If I'm using white spelt from the bins a WInco, 72% hydration is plenty but if I'm home milling and using whole grain 90-100% is the norm with 75% extraction flour for the dough and the 25% bran and hard bits fed to the levain to get it as wet for as long as possible to keep it from destroying the gluten stands.

elight's picture
elight

I baked another sourdough loaf using the same formula, but halving the bulk fermentation time (from about 10 hours to about 5). The dough still didn't hold its shape well during proofing, but it also didn't fall apart as before. There was a decent rise in the oven, resulting in a very nicely shaped loaf. The crumb was still a little dense, with a few larger holes. Quite different from my yeasted loaves. I continue to believe that there's something going on with spelt and gluten breakdown over longer fermentations... or that there's something wrong with my starter. I may experiment with longer fermentation yeasted loaves, or with starting a new starter.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"The gluten in spelt is water soluble; it is degraded by heat and is easily broken down by mixing action. Wheat gluten, in contrast, does not break down in water and only relaxes when exposed to heat and seems to get stronger as it is mixed – bakers refer to it as “developing the gluten.” If you over mix spelt, it will break down. If you over mix wheat, it will get stronger."

I found this interesting.

elight's picture
elight

Mini, that seems to be the common wisdom floating around on the Internet (perhaps even originating from spelt producers such as VitaSpelt), and the knowledge that I have used for the past three years of spelt baking. But it seems to be in contrast to the experience of the folks here - that longer mixing times are required for spelt to build strength and absorb water.

I can tell you that 10 minutes of slap-and-fold produces an incredibly better dough than the maximum 3 minutes kneading recommended by VitaSpelt.

It is frustrating that there is so little information about spelt, and possibly so much misinformation. I am wheat intolerant and have spent the past three years baking entirely with spelt (I had never baked bread prior to that). It has been trial and error, and unfortunately I haven't made too much progress in improving technique or recipe. I hope that this thread can keep the conversation alive, as there certainly seems to be more and more interest in it every day (three years ago, it was near impossible to find spelt; now, whole spelt is at most grocery stores, and white spelt is in the bulk food bins at Whole Foods).

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

together give you a better loaf.   The high amylase in spelt works well with the rye and the rye gives the weight to the spelt to control it more.   The price of spelt does keep folks from experimenting with it.  I haven't done enough experimenting with my bag of spelt (locally purchased) to know what I'm dealing with.

In my reading about Spelt grains, I've come across listings of spelt manipulations and crosses and mixtures.  Easy to understand that when a particular grain becomes valuable, the market becomes flooded with "spelt" flours.  If quality control specifics are lacking, many of these flours are crosses with other grains.  

I was looking up Vita Spelt and the darn stuff is copywrited.  Now doesn't that make one wonder if it has been manipulated?

A listing was posted a few years back on Süpke's site:  (Dinkel is the word for Spelt and "reiner" means "pure."    "Sorte" means "variety."  "Abstamming" is the "Origin."  "Selekt. aus" = "Selection from." "Weizen + anteil" is "Wheat + amount."    

Der Demeter-Bund gab vor einiger Zeit eine Liste heraus und führte folgende Sorten an:

SorteAbstammungWeizenanteil(rechnerisch)
Bauländer Spelz
Schwabenkorn
Oberkulmer Rotkorn
Ebners Rotkorn
Selekt. aus Landsorte
Selekt. aus Tiroler Spelz
Selekt. v. schw. Landrassen
Selekt. aus schw. Landrasse
0%  reiner Dinkel
0%  reiner Dinkel
0%  reiner Dinkel
0%  reiner Dinkel
Franckenkorn
Rouquin
Rouquin x Altgod
(Lignee24 x Ardenne) x Altgold=Vitue x Ligennee24
6,25 % Dinkel/Weizen
12,25% Dinkel/Weizen
Kunz 94/26#R84818 x Oberkulmer
=Oberkulm3/3/Mnimain/Ms /M0
33% Dinkel/Weizen
Alkor
Kunz 94/39#
Kunz 94/40#
Hubel
Astron
Avalon x Altgold
Avalon x Altgold
Avalon x Altgold
ALB62a x Uniplan.80-23
Kronjuwel x Monopol
50% Dinkel/Weizen
50% Dinkel/Weizen
50% Dinkel/Weizen
50% Dinkel/Weizen
100% Weizen

You know from your experience that spelt has a particular behavior, when crossed with wheat, this could change the behavior.  If you think you are baking with spelt and in reality it is more wheat than spelt, naturally it would be hard to pin down characteristics in the dough.  This may explain why so many home bakers and sensitive stomaches have different experiences.  The quality of the spelt flour being different or adulterated or even cross bred.  Check your source, the variety of grain, and the falling numbers if you can. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

.