The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking with Spelt - help

  • Pin It
Tartination's picture
Tartination

Baking with Spelt - help

hi all

never thought my first post would be about spelt, but here goes.

I bought some wholegrain spelt flour (by mistake..) so I looked up some (alternative) recipes and found a decent one on Susan's wildyeast blog. the finished product looked very nice and appealing so I said why not.

I did look up some background info on spelt and how it feels to work with and bake, and I knew I've got a challenge on my hand. I went ahead and followed the recipe to the dot and prepared the oven like I usually do (I make some great rye sourdoughs so my method is fool proof with the available equipment).

now, the taste is no doubt fantastic,  and it's a great replacement for wholemeal, however the consistency and workability,  oven spring and keeping quality I struggled with.

 it was almost impossible to keep its shape as a boule, since it flattens out as soon as you take it out of its proving basket. oven spring was almost an inch, so not great. and it went hard after less than a day... really frustrating.

 

so, what's the secret? should I use less of it when baking with AP mixture? would using a high gluten flour work better? what can I do to avoid my problems above?

 

any advice much appreciated.

AK

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Hi, artizankhibz, and welcome to TFL!

Spelt flour is low in gluten forming proteins And therefore it does not absorb much moisture. A 70 % hydration spelt dough will behave as an 80% whole-wheat dough, which is quite slack and will spread during baking. Therefore, you may reduce water slightly until you have a firmer dough.

As to the hardness, although i have not worked alot with spelt, i've heard that sweetners such as honey will soften the texture, anD Improve flavor.

Phil (TFL id PIPS) , among others here may help you with spelt, he makes excellent spelt loaves.

Khalid

 

Tartination's picture
Tartination

Thanks Kahled for your tips. I will try them out next time, and msg 'PIPS' for more advice.

AK

rottenfood's picture
rottenfood

Arti, You're right you have a challenge, but mostly if you want a high percentage of spelt. The gluten that *is* present is highly water soluable. Reducing water 15+% is not uncommon. I made 12 straight bricks before my first success. This was using Eric's no-knead method on the breadtopia site. This involves use of a clay baker. A dutch oven would work fine.

Should you ever experiment w/ Emmer flour - it seems to behave similarly. 'Weak, needs reduced hydration, etc.

Tartination's picture
Tartination

Yeah, I wondered after baking whether reducing the amount of spelt flour and using high-gluten bread flour instead of AP would help the consistency. Looks like you're confirming this theory.

I will have to invest in a dutch oven soon, since I want to try those lovely tartine breads from Mr Robertson..

thanks

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I have started putting all of the spelt that I am going to use in a formula in my feedings for my starter. I also only use apple yeast water in that starter. The combined long fermentation of the starter after each feeding of spelt and the yeast water have resulted in lovely breads that keep for days and days with a perfect rise in the oven. I bake all of my breads with a one hour rise on the counter in shaped baskets. Then into the fridge for  over night retard and bake direct from the oven into 500 degree pots  and lower to 460 with lid on 15 min  and bake 15 more min or to 207-212 lid off. Every loaf since I have started this has been beautiful and no more spelt slack !   c

Tartination's picture
Tartination

Hi Trailrunner

my started had the wholgrain spelt flour feeding the night before (was white flour before). It's the only starter I've got, so I hope it won't mess up my other breads...

I will try the night retard next time I try this bread and have finally bought my dutch oven...

Do you mind sharing your recipe with us? :)

AK

isand66's picture
isand66

I suggest you always create a new separate starter from your "Mother" starter.  What I do, is take part of my AP starter as the "Seed" and add the new flour, spelt, whole wheat, etc. along with water and do a 2 stage build when converting over to a spelt or rye flour.  If you are simply using bread or AP flour, a one stage build should be fine.  This way you preserve your main starter and use it to build whatever type you want to bake with.  For something like spelt you definitely need to do at least a 2 build starter which means you want to calculate how much starter you need for your final dough and add your dry and wet ingredients to the seed until you end up with the final amount.  You can look at some of my recipes on this site or my blog: www.mookielovesbread.wordpress.com where I detail my methods.  I have a rye bread ready to bake today and a Pain au Levain as well using this method.

As far as Spelt goes I agree with the other posters here that it is a lower gluten grain.  I have not been brave enough yet to make a 100% spelt loaf but I usually add a small percentage along with a higher gluten flour.  I like to experiment with different flours so times 4-5 in the same dough and as you experiment you will learn the correct combination to use to get the result you are looking for.

Regards,
Ian

Tartination's picture
Tartination

Thanks Ian. This whole spelt thing will take some gettin used to.. Appreciate you sharing your blog with us.

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Go to Wild Yeast blog and use her More Sour Norwich sourdough recipe. The only thing I change is as Ian does and I remove some of my starter and do 2-3 feeds with only spelt to bring it up to the amount that I need for the formula. I usually use my yeast water these days to feed my starter but I sometimes use whey as I have a lot of that also from kefir cheese making. I believe it is the fermentation of the starter/spelt that causes it not to mess with the gluten development of the final loaf. I no longer have to contend with the slack loaves . This formula makes about 2100 grams of dough so you can cut it back if you like. 

You will love baking in the cast iron. It is fool proof as far as steaming the bread with just the moisture of the loaf filling the hot pot . Makes it very easy to get a perfect loaf everytime. Good Luck ! c

Tartination's picture
Tartination

Sorry, just to understand you correctly, you're talking about only changing the starter (white to wholegrain spelt) in Susan's recipe for Norwich sourdough, and NONE of the main dough flour?

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

only on the starter...I feed 100 g of spelt a total of 3 times and that gets 300g of spelt into the formula...to get the whole 480 g of starter required for the 3 loaves I have some rye and white in the mix for the feedings too. I find that this has completely eliminated the problem of slack spelt doughs. I also do feed with my apple yeast water for which there are many posts of tfl. It only takes four days to get a yeast water going that will contribute to your bread success !  I use the YW to feed my regular starter so you are getting many different actions all at once. Let me know if you need more assistance. It isn't as complicated as it may seem. c

Tartination's picture
Tartination

I just want to thank everyone who's commented so far and shared their experiences. It's no fable that bread bakers are one of the nicest people around ^_^ . if only all politicians were bread bakers, ey? ha...

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

Hi AK,

I have had a lot of success using the recipe for 100% spelt bread found on the Breadtopia website.  There are videos there that show each step.  The spelt dough is handled very gently and there is a long final proof.  I have made it several times without failure, and the flavor is excellent.  Keep at it - spelt is worth the work.

-Brad

Tartination's picture
Tartination

Interesting..need to get me that clay oven pronto!

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

I've always made freestanding hearth loaves without problems.

-Brad