The Fresh Loaf

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My attempt at Franko's spelt bread was a round brick - help!

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merlie's picture
merlie

My attempt at Franko's spelt bread was a round brick - help!

I was so excited when I saw Franco's gorgeous spelt bread I just had to make it. I was still on cloud nine from having made the most perfect ciabatta last week - so what could go wrong ?!!  I weighed everything except the instant yeast (my digital scale won't register that low-2.5 ) So I guessed and used 3/4tsp. in both the poolish and the final dough. The recipe asked for an oatmeal soaker - I used slow oats. Maybe I should have used quick oats? The whole grain spelt flour was purchased just a few days ago from our local mill (Rogers) in Armstrong BC.  The dough seemed "heavy" when I put it in a cloth lined basket for the final rise. It rose OK but spread when I transfered it onto the peel. I gave it one slash with the lame, poured water into the steam tray and slid it onto the stone in pre heated 500 degree oven. Sprayed water onto sides of oven and closed door. Baked 10 mins, turned down temp to 440 degrees and baked a further 25 mins.  And I have a heavy round BRICK ! The crumb ( if you can call it that ) defies description !  I would like to try again as my daughter is alergic to wheat ( not to gluten )   I would really appreciate help -  what did I do or not do to produce this excuse for bread?!! Many thanks in advance - Merlie.

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Merlie,


Sorry to hear about the brick! What I've found with this bread over several bakes, some of them not so good as well, is that the bread ferments very quickly. It also needs to be mixed with a lighter hand than what you would for a normal wheat dough. If you're using a stand mixer try just mixing on 1st speed only until it comes together then finish it by hand on the counter, rather than mixing on 2nd speed as indicated in the recipe, at least until you become familiar with what the dough should look and feel like. Knead it by hand until it's smooth and elastic, developed enough that it'll hold a round shape. Then let it ferment at a temp between 70-74 and check it often. When you made the poolish did you leave it overnight in the fridge or at room temp? I made the mistake once of leaving it at room temp and wound up with a pretty bad loaf so it's a critical part of the overall mix. If you can tell me in a little more detail of how you mixed it, times and temps of ferment etc. I'll be able to help you better. I'm making a loaf of it today so I'll keep some notes on exactly what I do and pass them on to you. Take heart, spelt dough is a little different to work with than wheat, and takes some getting used to.


Franko

merlie's picture
merlie

Hi Franco,


          Thank you so much for your reply. Yes, the poolish was refrigerated overnight and so was the oatmeal soaker.  I have never made a soaker before - it was just damp when I removed it from the fridge. Should there have been any excess water ? Should I have used quick oats ? Was my guess of 3/4tsp instant yeast in both the poolish and the final dough OK ? Left both to come to room temperature before proceeding.   I used my KA mixer exactly as the recipe indicated and then 2-3 minutes by hand. I have to admit it was not smooth and elastic but I did not know what to expect from spelt.  Maybe the kitchen was cooler than 70-74 degrees. It is usually 68-70 until later in the day as we heat with a wood burning stove. The ferment was 1hr. Temp. was 72 degrees  Then I shaped it very gently and left it to rise for about 1 1/2hrs .I think I knew then that things were not as they should be as it felt so heavy - but I went ahead anyway !


          Thank you, your help is very much appreciated - Merlie.

Franko's picture
Franko

Merlie,


I'm just a few minutes away from putting the spelt bread I made today in the oven. I've taken lots of photos that I'll post for you to have a look at so that you've got some idea of what the dough should look like. The oats shouldn't have any critical bearing on what happened with your dough, and just damp is how the soaker that I've used has always been. I make .75 of a tsp yeast at 3 grams so it's a shade high but not too bad. I'm thinking that your dough must have been over fermented and/or overproofed, which is easy to do. I just put mine in the oven and it seemed overproofed to me and this was just a little more than 45 minutes since I shaped it and set it to rise. As I said, it moves much quicker than what we're used to with normal wheat doughs and I'm still trying to get the hang of it. It's one of those doughs you have to watch like a hawk and not let distractions get in the way. Easier said than done for many of us that have other things going on in our daily lives.


To quote the section on Spelt flour from Advance Bread & Pastry " a good starting point is to reduce mixing time by 50% and then to check the gluten structure and continue mixing if needed." "The lack of gluten elasticity also makes the dough intolerant to fermentation and very delicate to handle." It goes on to say that "use of a preferment such as a poolish is recommended to reinforce gluten bonding and improve the strength of the dough."


OK I've just taken the bread out of the oven and I can tell you it was not what I'd call a successful bake. It did rise, but not as it has in some of the previous bakes. The colour is fine, but I suspect when it cools and I take the first slice I'll find the crumb is compact, dry, and probably not very tasty, making it a good example of what an overproofed 100% spelt bread can look like. Even at 1/2 of the time you proofed your loaf for, mine was still overproofed.


I'll get back to you later in the day or tomorrow afternoon with the photos and some notes about this bake.


Best Wishes,


Franko


 

merlie's picture
merlie

Thank you Franco - I look forward to your pictures. Then I will  try again !   Merlie.

Franko's picture
Franko

 


Hi Merlie,


Sorry it took a couple of days to get back to you but as I mentioned in the last post, my bake of the spelt bread on Monday was far from successful so I wanted to try it again and see if I couldn't do a better job of it.


The first thing to know with this bread is to use a timer throughout the making of it. During my first attempt at making it the other day I didn't use one and paid the price because I let it over-proof while I was distracted with other things. Usually I have a pretty good sense of when to check things, but I was off by 10-15 minutes on the proof and that's all it takes with this bread to make the difference between a good loaf and a bad one.


The bread that was made yesterday came out much better, although slightly underproofed, it has much better volume. The under-proofing is a result of me erring on the side of caution, not wanting a repeat of the previous days bake. This loaf is different from the original recipe because the oatmeal soaker and the toasted seeds have been left out at the request of my wife. I found it needed a shorter mixing time because of this, but even with the soaker and seeds included, the 6-7 minutes mixing time on 2nd speed indicated in the recipe is probably too much. I'm revising this now to 3-4 minutes based on what I recorded yesterday. Apparently I didn't take very accurate notes when I mixed this for the first time some months ago. I tend to go more by the look and feel of the dough rather than actual elapsed time at any given speed, so perhaps it felt longer to me than it actually was. My apologies for this inaccuracy and any grief it's caused you. My fault totally.


 


Starting with mixing the dough:


As per the recipe I added all the ingredients to the mixer and began mixing on 1st speed . Because this mix didn't have the soaker included I found that it needed only 1 ½ minutes mixing on 1st speed to bring all the ingredients together. I also needed to add 3% more water to achieve the right hydration because of the missing soaker, so the soaker does have a slight affect on the mixing hydration. The mix was continued on 2nd speed for 1 minute 10 seconds and then stopped. What you want is a fairly slack , well hydrated dough that you build strength in by hand kneading, and some folding in the bowl as well as a stretch& fold during the bulk fermentation time. The dough was scraped out of the bowl onto the counter and kneaded by hand for 2 minutes.


Bulk Fermentation:


The dough temperature was 67.9F when it was placed in a covered bowl for bulk fermentation. The dough temperature was kept cooler than normal because I wanted a slower, more controlled fermentation on this dough than the previous. You would probably want to have yours in the low 70F range. The timer was set for 30 minutes after which I did several folds (8-9) in the bowl to build some strength in the dough. The timer was set for another 30 minutes after which I did a stretch and fold of the dough on the counter.





 


Shaping and baking:


The dough was gently rounded and left to rest for 15 minutes, then shaped into a batard and placed on a parchment covered peel and a clear plastic box placed over top of that, and left left at room temperature of 67F. Set timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes there was some slightly noticeable increase in the size. After another 15 minutes there was a marked increase in size although not yet just under double, which is the size you want. I removed the box and let the loaf dry slightly for 6-7 minutes before slashing. The loaf was slid onto a 500F preheated stone in the oven (middle rack) and steamed with a spray bottle of water 6-7 times. After 5 minutes the heat was reduced to 425F for a 20-25 minute bake, then the heat was shut off and the bread left in the oven for 5 more minutes. Tap the bottom of the loaf and listen for a hollow sound or check that the internal temperature is 210F. Remove the bread to wire racks to cool for 7-8 hrs. Photos below of the various stages throughout.




 


As you can see Merlie, this dough is quite a bit different from a typical wheat dough and requires some extra attention, and an eye on the clock when making it. I hope this is of some use to you and if you have any questions just let me know and I'll be happy to help you in any way I can.


All the best,


Franko

merlie's picture
merlie

Wonderful instructions Franco. I will try again this weekend and let you know how I get on.  Thank you!  


                         Regards, Merlie.

merlie's picture
merlie

Hi Franco,


This bake was SO much better but still not as good as yours ! We managed to wait until it was cold and then sliced it .It was delicious , wonderful flavour ! I followed your instructions exactly but had the feeling from the beginning that it needed     just a little more water....? it took 3 1/2 minutes to come together and after 3 minutes on speed 2 was still rather stiff.  (I used the oatmeal soaker as before ) I kneaded by hand for more than  3 minutes but it just did not feel right  or look as slack and smooth as yours did. The dough temperature was 71.2 when put in the bowl for bulk fermentation. After 30 minutes it was hard work doing the stretch and folds in the bowl as it really did not want to stretch !  30 minutes later S&F on the counter was a lot easier as was the shaping. Oven was preheated to 500F and I even found a clear plastic cover so I could keep a close eye on it ( on parchment on the peel ) I was so frightened of over proofing that maybe I under proofed it ?  Did everything you said re steaming the oven and baking but even with an extra 5 minutes baking time I could not get an internal temperature of more than 201F However, it was golden brown, sounded hollow so after a further 5 minutes with the oven turned off I took it out. In your first recipe the temperature was lowered to 440F .Would that have been better? As I said before it tasted delicious but the crumb could have been better. I took photos - now I have to learn how to upload them !


Again, thankyou Franco, look forward to hearing from you - Merlie


                           ( Have no idea why the photos are in the wrong order and in the middle of the text !  Took me all evening of trial and error - looks like I need more trial and less error ! )

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Merlie,


Congratulations on your success with the spelt loaf! I think it looks really good, with a nice even crumb and a golden crust. Considering what a challenge this dough can be to work with, an all around fine piece of work on your part. I agree that it's a little underproofed, but as we both know, it's far better to err in that direction than the other. Lowering the temp to 440F after loading the oven will give you a more even bake, with less moisture loss, rather than keeping it at 500F for the duration. As far as the hydration goes just use your best judgement and what feels right to you. There aren't a lot of bread recipes I consider 'written in stone', particularly when it comes to hydration. Next time you make it adjust the water to what you want the dough to feel like and keep notes of what you've done for the next time you mix it, tweaking it over several bakes to the way you personally prefer it. Well done Merlie!


Franko