The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hydration for spelt/wholewheat sourdough

swifty's picture

Hydration for spelt/wholewheat sourdough

I have had problems getting the hydration right for spelt sourdough. The last attempt ,I followed the recipe exactly, weighing all ingredients .It was too wet to work with ,then I check the bakers percentages and it came out at 74%.  From another web site, I tried another 100% spelt sourdough no-knead approach ,it was too wet and it was about 68% 

I want to give the spelt/wholewheat a try because the flavor is so good. What hydration would you recommend for 50% Spelt, 25% wholewheat,& 25% white bread flour?


arlo's picture

I know it's recommended that one should cut back on mixing times by a few minutes aiming for about 3 1/2 minutes total mixing to prevent the dough from breaking and causing it to seem wet when working with a high percentage of spelt. Similar to rye flour as well. Perhaps that may have been a bit of the problem that arose.

If the mixing precautions were taken I suggest aiming for around 69%-72% hydration, I feel that this would provide a nice sandwich loaf bread that was primarily whole grains.

At the bakery I work at we make a nice 100% whole spelt loaf that sees about a three minute mix, during which we aim to have the dough feel like it/look like it may need another minute or two on the mixer at the end of it mixing time on the hook. After the bulk proof the dough really does form up nicely and needs little work at the table. Also try and use a sponge if the recipe does not already call for one, this helps out a lot with high percentage spelt loaves.


Ruralidle's picture

I bake spelt sourdough on a weekly basis and I use 200g wholemeal spelt, 200g white spelt and 210g white (mainly) bread flour starter - 50% hydration - and 290g water with 7g salt and 5g ascorbic acid.  This is 67% hydration but, depending on the weather, I sometimes use 300g water and that is 68.5%.

I mix everything but the salt in my stand mixer until combined, then leave to autolyse for an hour or so before mixing in the salt using the stand mixer and then use Richard Bertinet's slap and fold method until the dough is fully formed.

It doesn't seem particularly wet when compared to other flours at or near 70% hydration and I don't get any noticeable problems with the dough breaking or tearing - I find that it is far easier to work than say a 30% rye flour dough.



Edit: 16 January 2011

Just baked a couple of these loaves

swifty's picture

Plan to make your recipe.Questions?

Your bread looks great and thanks for the photos.

I am assuming that you are using a bulk fermentation until the dough doubles with the slap and fold every hour or so?

The 50% hydration you mention is really equal weight of flour and water?

The mostly white starter is some whole wheat/ white bread flour mix?

I have tried Theresa's recipe in book three and it is a really wet dough, impossible to handle, but delicious bread. I have made it twice with the same results. 

Ruralidle's picture

Hi Swifty

I don't wait for the dough to double.  It takes far longer because of the sourdough starter, with is fed at 1 part water to 2 parts flour (I work in grammes). I decide when to work the dough on a time basis and don't look for it to double (sometimes there seems to be very little increase in volume after an hour, but the dough always feels different).

As regards method, I have posted it here: .  I only do slap and fold to form the dough, not after it has rested (bulk fermented) at all.

I usually feed the starter with white bread flour (as I buy this is 16kg sacks so I usually have a lot around) but occasionally use some white or wholemeal spelt and, on the odd occasion, a small amount of dark rye flour (last time I used spelt in the starter was just before Christmas when the carrier lost my big bag of white flour then found it but it got caught up in snow-related backlogs).

I hope that I have answered all your questions and the recipe and method works for you.

Happy Baking