The Fresh Loaf

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Sprouted Spelt Bread - a Variation of a WGB Recipe

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hanseata's picture

Sprouted Spelt Bread - a Variation of a WGB Recipe

I made this variation of Peter Reinhart's "Whole Wheat and Sprouted Grain Bread" (from WGB) with spelt - I had just bought a 20 lb bag of spelt kernels, and generally like the taste of spelt better than of whole wheat. Instead of a biga I used a starter, added an overnight cold bulk fermentation, and coriander for a hint of spice. The bread rose quite nicely and tasted very good.

175 g spelt kernels
350 g water
63 g whole wheat mother starter
191 g spelt flour
142 g water
283 g sprouted spelt kernels
all starter
57 g spelt flour
14 g vital wheat gluten, (optional)
8 g salt
7 g instant yeast
21 g honey
14 g butter, melted, or vegetable oil
⅛ - ¼ tsp. coriander, ground, (optional)
57 g water , (saved from soaking grains - add slowly, it might be too much)


Rinse spelt kernels and soak them with water for 12 - 24 hrs., at room temperature.


Drain grains over a bowl (save water for final dough). Rinse soaked grains, cover, and let sprout at room temperature. Little tails should appear within 3 - 6 hrs (if not, rinse and drain again). As soon as little tails show, sprouted grains are ready to use. Use or refrigerate immediately.

Prepare starter, and let sit at room temperature.

Grind sprouted grains to as fine a pulp as possible (food processor). Beware of overheating, if pulp begins to feel warm, stop and let it cool for 10 min. before continuing.

Combine sprouted pulp with starter, spelt flour, wheat gluten (if using), salt, yeast, honey, butter, coriander, and 1/4 cup/57 g of the soaking water. Mix at low speed for 1 min. with dough hook to bring ingredients into a ball, adding more water or flour as needed.

Continue mixing for 4 min at medium-low speed, scraping down walls of bowl occasionally (dough will be a sticky ball). Let dough rest for 5 min., then resume kneading for 1 min. Dough should be soft, supple and very tacky.

Transfer dough ball to oiled bowl or 1-quart plastic container, rolling it around to coat with oil. Cover and refrigerate overnight.


Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hrs. before using.

Preheat oven to 425 F/218 C, with steam pan. Shape dough into sandwich loaf (or bâtard) and place in greased 4 x 8.5" loaf pan. Cover, and let rise for 45 - 60 min. at room temperature, until it has ca. 1 1/2 times its original size.

Place bread in oven, pour 1 cup boiling water into steam pan, and bake at 350 F/177 C for 20 min. Rotate loaf 180 degrees and continue baking for another 25 - 30 min. (Internal temperature should be at least 200 F/93 C).

Remove bread from loaf pan and let cool on rack for at least 1 hr. before serving.

Syd's picture

I bet that makes awesome sandwiches.  I have never used spelt before.  I would love to try some.  What did you think of the addition of coriander to the loaf?  I never thought I would like spiced bread until MiniOven very kindly sent me some of her bread spice which I used in Mini's 100% Rye.  Coriander is a  big component of the bread spice, along with carraway and fennel.  I really like the flavour it adds to rye.  It just adds that extra dimension and it goes so well with smoked meats and salami because it can stand up against them without getting lost.


breadsong's picture

Hello hanseata, That's a nice, hearty-looking loaf! Like Syd, I have never used spelt before. Your post is incredibly timely for me; I came home from the market today with some farro kernels. I'm going to have to try sprouting some to make your bread. I am not positive but I think farro is another name for spelt?
Thanks so much for this post! from breadsong

Mebake's picture

3 Days, Huh? I bet its worth it, Karin! I l love the idea of using the sprouting water for the final dough!

This is just perfect for me.. I should try your recipe one day... must do

hanseata's picture

Syd, in Germany most of the heartier (not just white) breads are seasoned with spices. Anise, caraway, fennel and coriander are the typical "bread spices".

I have one spice mill filled with anise, caraway and fennel in equal parts, and one with coriander. For my breads I just turn one or both mills a few times (10-20).

Usually these spices are added just to give a hint of flavor, only discernible if you compare a bread with bread spices and one without - the one with the bread spices tastes "rounder" and more flavorful.

American breads are often too sweet for my taste - instead of spices sugar (and more salt) is used to add flavor. And people often seem rather taken aback when I mention the bread spices in my recipes (probably thinking of the overdoses of caraway in some Jewish Ryes).

Therefore I'm glad to hear that you tried for yourself - and like it. The Sprouted Spelt Bread is great for sandwiches, I love spelt, it tastes a bit "nuttier" than wheat.



hanseata's picture

Thanks, breadsong, I have some other spelt bread recipes that I could post, too.

Farro is not spelt, it's another old kind of wheat, also called Emmer or Einkorn. I just came upon some recipes with Emmer/Farro in Jan Hedh's "Swedish Breads and Pastry" book, that I'd like to try (I have not used it, yet).

In principle these are all interchangeable, you have only to keep in mind that they might have somewhat less gluten than wheat (I didn't see a dramatic difference between spelt and whole wheat, though).

I wish they would sell "Grünkern" here in the US, a specialty flour made from roasted (not quite ripe) spelt, that adds another layer of taste to spelt breads.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I've seen it and haven't tried it yet.  


breadsong's picture

Hello Karin, Thanks for the information. (I haven't seen Mr. Hedh's book yet but it sure sounds interesting).
Re: the roasted spelt flour, it's so good to hear about new and different things, and it is too bad it's not available.
I look forward to any recipes you wish to post! I love your beautiful baking.
Thanks, from breadsong

hanseata's picture

It's worth it, Khalid, and I also like the idea of utilizing some of the soaking water in the final dough (the first batch I use for watering plants!).

You can prepare this bread without the cold bulk fermentation (the original recipe doesn't require it), but this doesn't only improve the dough (in my opinion), but also fits much better in my schedule, especially if I bake breads for the store that sells my breads.


hanseata's picture

Because periods of rainy, cold summers spoiled the harvests people in Germany started harvesting spelt when the grains were still green (grün), drying them over wood fires (this procedure was first documented in 1660). Grünkern was then cooked and made very tasty and nutricious soups.

Grünkern has a special taste, due to the beech wood fire it is smoke dried. The hulls have to be removed after drying - they are used as pillow stuffing material (supposedly making you sleep better.)

Grünkern chops are added to breads like nuts or seeds, the flour loses its rising properties because of the "Darre" (the drying procedure). It is an ingredient in many vegetarian recipes and, also, store bought soup packages.



hanseata's picture

is, of course, always welcome, breadsong!

I'm just trying to come up with a spelt version of a very tasty bread I bought at Micucci's (Italian grocery store with bakery) in Portland. They called it "Wheat Walnut Poppy Seed" and, from what I see, it doesn't only contain walnuts and poppy seeds, but, also, black sesame.

It is fermenting in the fridge - I'll post the result tomorrow (if it turns out nice).



breadsong's picture

Karin, I feel I do not deserve your generous and kind words!
It is bakers like you that I look up to, who have such knowledge and skill and employ it to create such delicious-looking and beautiful bread.
I'm glad you posted about your new spelt creation! I'm going to head over and comment there.
Thanks from breadsong


ananda's picture

Hi Karin,

Love the Spelt breads.   Rich in protein, even if the gluten is not so strong.

Never ceases to please, but tends to be a rapid fermenter in leavens, of course!

I have the Jan Hedh book on Artisan Bread; think I'll make a Spring project to delve into those pages

Best wishes


hanseata's picture

I like the Hedh book, though I changed some of the techniques a bit to fit my schedule.

Interesting as the method of using fruit yeast levain (first recipes in the book) are, the breads taste good but are very mild. I like the tangier taste of breads leavened with regular levain better (that is, of course, the other option).

This morning I'm trying the Basic Country Bread from Tartine, but I plan to make your other student Katie's "Stout & Flaxseed Bread" soon.

What kind of stout did she use, by the way? In "Fine Cooking" I read that Guiness Draft holds up better in longer cooked foods than Guiness Stout.

The wonderful "Nettle Bread" will be this Saturday's specialty for sale in the store. I do hope Faye won the Finals, too!



Janetcook's picture


I have made PR Sprouted Grain loaf often using a 7 grain mix of seeds and a kamut leaven and then using spelt as the rest of the flour in the recipe.

I have never let it ferment overnight in the refrigerator as you have and am wondering why you do that.

Can you please explain what led you to do it the way you do?



hanseata's picture

When I was planning to start my little bakery I was wondering how I could manage to do it timewise. I didn't want to get up in the wee hours to mix larger batches of dough in order to get everything done in time for my delivery to the store that sells my bread.

It appeared so much easier to prepare everything in the evening (emptying out a 20-quart mixer is a pain for one person, anyway), and bulk ferment the dough in the fridge, already divided into individual bread portions.

I actually asked Peter Reinhart in a live chat whether that would be doable and he said it's the way to go.

I take my dough containers out of the fridge when I first wake up in the morning, between 4 and 4:30, go back to sleep, and when I come down again to make breakfast, the dough has come to room temperature, can be shaped and proofed, while the oven is heating up.

I do not really know whether there is much of a difference in taste between breads made with pre-doughs with cold bulk fermentation and those without, since I never made a taste test side by side.

But my breads taste very good, and I rather do the more strenous, time consuming work in the evening, at my leisure, than bleary eyed and sleepy in the very early morning.

I think it's quite convenient that there is a certain flexibility in doing this. If I bake only bread for myself, I might prepare the final dough in the morning, too.

And if I come home late the day before my bread delivery, I use the stretch and fold technique (from "Artisan Breads Every Day").





Janetcook's picture

Thank you for the explanation.  it is nice to know his recipes can be modified in the way you have done.  I had assumed that the biga and soakers had to remain separate in order for the flavor to develop without the dough breaking down too quickly if they were combined initially as you have done.

Is it the refrigeration that prevents the dough from deteriorating with such a long fermentation?

Does your method of tweaking his sprouted grain recipe work on the other recipes  in Whole Grain Breads as well?

How does what you are doing differ from the 5-minute a day no knead recipes?


hanseata's picture

Yes, Janet, I make all the breads from WGB (the only ones from the book I never tried are some crackers) with this overnight cold bulk fermentation. But I reduce the instant yeast amount a bit, from 8 g to 6 g for a regular loaf (511 g flour). This is, in my experience, a sufficient amount, anyway, even if I don't do the overnight fermentation.

I place the dough right after kneading in square plastic containers (better stackable), and the dough is usually risen really nicely when I take them out of the fridge in the morning. The cold temperature (about 40 F) slows down the development, so that the dough doesn't deteriorate.

I never tried one of the no knead recipes, yet, so I can't really compare the method.



Janetcook's picture

Thank you for this information.

Very nice to know that this can be done without hindering flavor or dough quality.

Always nice to have another way to work something out and your way would fit nicely into my day too.  I generally am mixing the biga and starter in the evening so why not do the whole thing then too - less dishes.  :-)  Kids would have fresh bread earlier in the day doing it your way.

I have found that I can cut his recommended yeast down by almost half and breads still turn out just fine.  I live at high altitude so things rise a lot faster - less yeast means a bit longer fermenting time which helps with flavor development.


Scurvy's picture

and this is the new favorite for my sandwich bread


hanseata's picture

I'm glad you like the bread and it, obviously, turned out really nice! Sorry for answering late - I was traveling.

Happy Holidays, and Happy Baking!