The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Spelt & Flax Bread

honeymustard's picture

Spelt & Flax Bread

I have known for a while now that I would have to face my fear of wet doughs. Yes, fear. Absolute fear.

I am very good at breads that are relatively dry, and the only doughs that I've worked with that are wet weren't nearly as wet as the recipe I found here - Floydm's Daily Bread.

To be honest, I had a vague idea - at best - at what I was doing. I made a whole wheat poolish, and the rest of the flour was organic spelt. For good measure and texture, I added 1/4 cup flax seeds. I baked on a stone as directed.

Spelt & Flax Bread

For having so little idea about what I was doing, I feel pretty fantastic about the results. The rise was reasonably good, and the texture was perfect. I would hope for a slightly better crumb next time. But I'm not going to be picky after my first try.

Also, I wanted a harder crust, but I think that has to do with a) my stone and b) a better method of steaming.


jcking's picture

Harder crust can be schieved by raising the oven temp and/or a longer baker. With the seeds in the dough it would be hard to get a more open crumb. The seeds can cut the gluten strands. Pre-soaking the seeds can help. Just remember flavor rules.

As to wet dough; slightly dampen your hands rather than adding flour.

Otherwise you've done a fine job!


honeymustard's picture

Thanks very much, Jim! Appreciate the feedback. My oven sadly was at its highest temp (550 F) for the first 5 minutes, and then I turned it down to 475. It's a propane oven, and I love the results from it most of the time, but I do need to get an oven thermometre to make sure I'm actually getting proper readings. And I didn't even think about that, regarding the flax seeds -- of course! In any case, the bread tasted great on its own, as toast, or even with sandwiches. Very pleased.

Thanks again, cheers!

JeremyCherfas's picture

Looks like a great loaf; one very useful technique for wet doughs is to stretch and fold rather than even try to knead. With very wet doughs I do it right there in the bowl, as someone here advised me to do, using a silicone scraper, and it is remarkable how easily the sturcture builds up.

One thing about soaking flax seeds; they become very slimy, in my experience, and very hard to work into the dough thoroughly, and I personally no longer bother because I don't see any great difference to the dough when I don't soak them.

honeymustard's picture

Thanks, Jeremy, appreciate the feedback! I did do the stretch and fold technique this time through, I'm just not very good yet. I find it awkward, but it's the second time I've utilised it, and I'm hoping it will get even better next time. I will give the silicone scraper a try next time. I used a bench scraper this time, which gets the job done but isn't quite contoured enough for my liking.


Breadandwine's picture

Hi honeymustard

Regarding flaxseeds, they're only of benefit nutritionally if they're ground - otherwise they just go straight through. I use 10g of ground flaxseeds to every 100g of dough - adds to the flavour and improves the texture, IMO.

As regards kneading a wet dough. I make my dough sticky - using 70% hydration with 85% wholemeal flour - and knead it for 15-20 seconds every 10 or 20 minutes. Every time I come back to it it's less sticky, and generally, after 3 or 4 kneads, it's perfectly handleable.

I knead with one hand and use a dough scraper with the other to lift and fold the dough. I remove most of the sticky dough from the one hand, then rub my hands together with some flour to get most of the rest off.

Another technique is to pour a little oil on your dough to stop it sticking - leaves your hands lovely and soft!



honeymustard's picture

Thanks for the help, Paul. I have heard that about flaxseeds. Truth be told, I like their look in bread which is primarily why I tried it, but I will have to try it ground next time.

Since this bread, I have gotten a thermometre for the inside of my oven. Turns out it is a bit cool - about 25 degrees cooler - than the indicated temperature. While annoying, it's super helpful with my baking.

I did notice that when I came back to the dough, it was easier to handle, you're right. I am just awkward with the technique thus far, but I'm learning! The oil is a good idea, and I use the same bench scraper technique you're talking about. I'm sure I just look much more ridiculous doing it than you. :)