The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Spelt poolish bread

sam's picture

Spelt poolish bread


I have yet to try any higher-percentage whole grain breads with a poolish and no sourdough levain, so here was my first attempt.   It is a 70% whole spelt flour milled at home (unsifted), the rest white bread flour.   Overall dough hydration was 70%.  All of the spelt was a poolish at 100% hydration, fermented until ripened (took appx 10 hours for me).   I did a quick 1hr bulk-ferment because so much of it was already prefermented, and then a final ferment of appx 30 mins.   The spelt dough relaxes very quickly.   I was able to get a tight shaping with plenty of strength, but after 15 mins it is very relaxed again.  I used a brotform for the final ferment, but it still lost it shape quickly when I emptied it onto the peel.   I thought this was going to be a frisbee for sure.   Turns out, it wasn't totally a frisbee, but not quite as tall as I'd like.   I will try again, maybe use high-gluten white flour instead of bread flour for the white flour component, and/or maybe lower hydration a bit.


Ripe spelt poolish, smelled great:



Oops.   I cut it down the middle before taking the picture.   :)



The taste is fantastic, and without any sour.    Yum!    Plus, you can make it in a day. 

(edit:  actually, after resting for a while, there is just a tiny little tinge of sour, but it is not totally unwelcome.  :)).

Happy baking!



lumos's picture

Though I add a small amount of spelt to many of my regular breads to give extra flavour, I'm such a coward I've never used more than 10% spelt in the mix because I've read so many times how fragile spelt flour is.  I think my utter fear of spelt stems from the first article I read about spelt years ago which said dough made from spelt flour had a very short period of the peak of fermentation and you could over-ripe it very easily if you weren't watching carefully enough.   Do you agree with this notion?  Ever since I read that,  an accute spelt-phobia was inplanted deeply  in my subconscious, I think.....:p

So anyone who can manage to make up a bread with high percentage of spelt wins all my respect!

Lovely looking loaf, gvz. Wish I had a courage and skill of yours.....

sam's picture

Thanks lumos.   Don't have a fear of the spelt!    I guess I was just too dumb not to be worried...

About the over-fermentation, I honestly don't know.   I even added 1% diatastic malt to the spelt poolish to get more sugar production out of it, to give the yeasties more to consume, and hopefully some spillover to me, since I did not do a flour soaker (all of the water of the dough was for the poolish).   I've never read any warnings about over-fermentation with spelt specifically, but after just an hour of bulk ferment, the dough was completely bubbling and seemed to be quite vigorous.    So I felt it was OK to cut the bulk fermentation time shorter than usual.   

All the best for your UK meetup!   If I lived over the pond, I'd stop by also!



nicodvb's picture

Gvz, it looks good. Getting anything taller than a frisbee from spelt is a big challenge. The few times that I used it I had to resort to pans. Spelt is really not for me:-), much worse than durum wheat.

varda's picture

as to why you wanted to make this with poolish instead of starter.   Don't you need the acids in a starter to maintain dough strength with a weak gluten flour like spelt?   Anyhow, you managed to do it so congrats.   Interesting that there are a lot of posts lately with people pushing the envelope on difficult (i.e., poor gluten) flours - spelt, durum, etc.  -Varda

foodslut's picture

What temperature did you bake at for how long?

Thanks for sharing, and congratulations!

sam's picture

nicodvb -- Thanks!

Varda -- More and more I am finding for my taste preference, I'm not so much of a fan of strongly sour high percentage whole grain breads.  For some reason my culture goes nuts with whole-grains and the breads can be too sour, especially if I extend fermentation.  I know there are techniques to limit/lower the sour of breads made with natural cultures, but I thought I'd try out Poolish.   I am liking the Poolish so far.   Why spelt?   I just happened to have a batch of it milled and aged for a few days, so...   thought I'd might as well try.   I am happy with the result, but I think I can do better.

Foodsl...  er, is it ok for me to type that?  :)    I preheated the oven/stone at 500F, baked with steam at 450F for the first 10 mins, then lowered to 425F for 30 mins, turning the bread once half way.   Some of my previous whole-grain breads I baked the majority at 450F but they were a bit too dark for me, so I've been turning it down to 425F and doing it a bit longer, so it's not as dark.   I measured internal temp to be 205F and it was hollow to the thump test.



copyu's picture

Good job, there, gvz—and top marks for 'bravery'. Heheheh!

My oven's just beeped, telling me that the bake is finished, but I'm going to ignore it for 10 minutes or so...I made a small variation of Odinraider's Pain de Campagne, which has 30% spelt (with coarse rye, whole wheat and white bread flour making up the remainder.) It was a bit strange to work with, today, but I love this formula, because it always behaves 'exactly as it's supposed to', which is a pretty strong recommendation...

I did use a 'wild yeast' (all-rye sourdough, 100% hydration) starter for mine, in the pre-ferment or 'sponge' that he recommends, but I used whole spelt flour (25% of the total spelt) instead of white in the pre-ferment. I think this may have changed the properties of the dough slightly. (For the main dough, I went back to white spelt.) I did some fancy kneading and S&F as I used an autolyse on the main flour/water before adding the sponge and some coarse, grey sea salt. The dough was really sticky and shaping was extremely difficult. Despite my best efforts, I just noticed, I got 'bum-cheeks' on both ends of the loaf...<GRRR!> It's too soon to check the crumb, but the oven spring was's hoping!