The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Spelt bread not rising

mama4homeschooling's picture

Spelt bread not rising

HELP!!  I have stopped making white bread for our family and gone to making spelt bread.  Unfortunately, I cannot get my spelt bread to rise.  I know it is only asthetics, but I miss my nice domed loaves of bread.  I have gone to using carbonated water, adding whey protein, Vitamin C, fruit pectin, & guar gum and grinding the spelt berries right before use.  Much to all my efforts, I still have sunken bread.  I feel like a failure in the kitchen. Does anyone have knowledge in this areana?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I've never added "carbonated water, whey protein, Vit C, fruit pectin or guar gum to spelt (dinkel) bread.  Spelt was fluffy and easy to raise all by itself, in fact it rises too much.  (Did you over-proof?)   More detail is needed like if you're using a sourdough and have you converted it to spelt, and if it rose during bulk rise, or temps & times.  Have you tried it without all the extras?  Maybe just a little oil?  If you're using commercial yeast, try using less of it.   Spelt and Rye like each other, try adding just a little like 5% or so at first or use a rye starter.

A drastic change from one grain to another...  Maybe a few loaves of mixed white and spelt are in order so you can see the changes spelt makes.  Start with say 30% and then go to 50% and on up to 70% and compare them.


Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

I have just started making my own Spelt sourdough starter(sourdough yeast) otherwise just replace the following starter with dried instant yeast. I hope it helps. I had 3 baking sessions with the following method with no problems.

After every feed leave the starter in a warm place for the first week.

Making the starter.

Day 1 Originally I mixed to a slurry 50grms of white bakers flour, 50 grms of wholemeal spelt flour and 100 grms of unsweetened pineapple juice. Leave in a warm place.

Day 2 I added 50 grms of white bakers flour with 50 grms of unsweetened pineapple juice.

Day 3 I then took out half of the starter(no sign of life as yet but day 3 is early) and fed another 50grms of white bakers flour + 50 grms pineapple juice. Instead of throwing out the excess starter I began another one but feeding it 50 grms of W/meal spelt flour + pineapple juice. I am trying to create a white sourdough starter and a spelt sourdough starter.

Day 4 I now see small bubbles appearing along the sides of both starters and on top of the their surfaces. I was confident we were under way knowing that the mix was not yet ready to begin baking with. Another feed repeating day 3 but throwing away the excess insteading of starting another colony of yeast starter.

Day 5. We have lift off. The first starter grew over night to a point where it came out of the holes in the jars lid. It is a bubbling thriving mass of sourdough starter. It had rich pungent smell of yeast. This is a good sign. The 2nd mass also grew but it was in a bigger jar. I will now go back to feeding this one white bakers flour with the occassional spelt flour feed for a different flavour and approach. I am also confident I can now replace the pineapple juice with water when feeding. Since it was so alive I decided to bake.

150 grms of either starter.

400 grms of white bakers flour

50 grms of W/meal spelt flour

300 grms of luke warm water 12 grms of salt.

This mix was placed in my bread baker and set on the knead only setting (Or hand knead). When the cyle stopped I turned the machine off and let the dough rise for another hour as S/Dough starter is slower to rise than instant dried yeast. I then removed the dough from it's kneading basket and divided it into two on a floured surface. I gave both a small hand knead and  shaped the dough to place in a traditional bread loaf tin. They were then left to proof for the next 6 hours and cooked at 200 Degrees for 40 minutes. The result was 2 X 500grms sourdough loaves, my best to date. NO rising problems. 

The starter now lives in our fridge and is fed once a week when the excess is taken out fed with flour and water, brought to room temperature and new loaves are created. The mother starter is fed the same and placed back in the fridge.

For a non sourdough bread loaf try

400grms of white bakers four

100 grms of spelt

350grms luke warm water

7 grms instant yeast

10 grma salt.

Knead, rise for 40 minutes, knead again and proof ........bake away. Hope it helps. Too many ingredients can spoil the broth so I always try to keep it simple.

Hope this helps..................Pete

elight's picture

I have been baking with spelt bread for a few months now and have learned a lot about its peculiarities (with still much more to learn).

Adding vital wheat gluten is the easiest thing you can do to help the rise. This is especially useful if using whole grain spelt. I usually use 2 tablespoons per loaf.

You may also be kneading too much - spelt requires (or perhaps, can tolerate) much less than wheat. Over-kneading may result in damaging the gluten, and harming the rise. I am still experimenting, but I usually do about 4 minutes by hand.

I've done even less with sourdough but also have the issue of it not rising well. I think it just takes a long time, even longer than wheat (perhaps because, based on observation, my spelt starter, though healthy, doesn't seem as active). You can try using additional starter, but be sure to do the math the maintain the same hydration.

I am still working on the best hydration levels, but it is definitely less for white than whole. Whole seems best around 65%, but white is probably closer to 50 or 55% - it will hydrate dramatically during the proving process.

Best of luck and please share your experiences - we all still have a lot to learn about this great grain.

GermanFoodie's picture

Otherwise, I concur with what Mini said. I have a recipe that is basically 1/3 spelt flour, 1/3 cracked spelt and 1/3 bread flour, it usually turns out great. I can post the recipe if you'd like.

smartym's picture

I've found a few websites which indicate you should cut the liquid about 25% when using spelt flour. It doesn't absorb liquid as well as wheat flour does. I've found that it does help my loaves turn out better.

elight's picture

The amount of hydration seems to vary depending on the type (whole or white) and brand of spelt flour you are using. For example, Bob's Red Mill's whole grain spelt seems much coarser than Arrowhead Mill's. VitaSpelt seems somewhere in the middle. Even when staying consistent with brand (I order 25 lb. bags from VitaSpelt), I haven't been successful in pinning down an exact adjustment for wheat flour to spelt flour conversion across recipes.

I have posted about my weekly 100% spelt sandwich loaf before, and continue to refine it. Right now, I am doing 44% whole spelt, 44% white spelt, 12% vital wheat gluten, and aim for 60-62% total hydration. I usually use one egg, honey and melted butter. Mix in KA with paddle until combined, and then knead for 2-3 minutes with dough hook. Rise and crumb are great. Sometimes, if I have it on hand, I'll substitute buttermilk for some of the water.