The Fresh Loaf

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Spelt bread baking time and temperature

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elight's picture
elight

Spelt bread baking time and temperature

For the past year, I have been experimenting with spelt bread, due to my wheat intolerance. I order 25 lbs. at a time of both whole grain and white spelt from Vita-Spelt. I have tried many different recipes, and have tweaked them to the point where I have a sandwich loaf that I make most every week. It is about 50% white spelt, 35% whole spelt, 10% rye, and 5% vital wheat gluten (this I tolerate). I use honey and olive oil to improve softness and kept it fresher longer. Total hydration is 62%.

The biggest issue I am now facing is selecting the proper baking temperature and time (or, more specifically, internal temperature). I used to start my bake at a high temperature (450 F) as I also did with free-form loaves. I then realized that a sandwich loaf in a loaf pan does not benefit from this, as the purpose of the high temperature is crust formation. So I dropped the temperature down to 375 F the last few bakes to see if a longer, slower bake would improve the texture (word is still out).

I never know, though, at what internal temperature to pull the loaf. I have seen recommendations of everything from 195 F to 210 F. How is one supposed to know the ideal temperature for any given loaf?

The other strange thing is that I find that I get to 195-200 F after only 30 minutes at 375 F. Every recipe I see, though--even spelt recipes--suggest that this should take closer to 60 minutes! What could possibly be the cause of my bakes requiring so little time? Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to not run the oven for longer than necessary, but I feel like there's something going on that I'm missing.

Thanks for your input!

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I think your baking temperature of 375 F is a bit too high. And are you sure that your oven temperature is really correct? In some ovens the actual temperature can be way off from what it should be.

I bake all my enriched loaves according to Peter Reinhart's recommendation: preheat oven to 425 F, and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes, rotate the loaf 180 degrees, and continue baking for another 20 - 25 minutes.

This temperature works all the time. The overall baking time depends on the size of your loaf, for me it usually varies between 40 - 50 minutes, very rarely longer. The internal temperature at the end of the bake should be at least 195 F.

60 minutes seems very long, but I, too, have several recipes stating much longer baking times, than it actually takes.

Another question: why do you add vital wheat gluten? I only use that for 100% rye breads, for spelt with just 10% rye it's not really necessary.

Merry Christmas,

Karin

elight's picture
elight

Hi Karin,

Thanks for your response! I will try 350 F for 40 minutes on my next bake. Does a longer, slower bake result in a better crumb, or better preservation?

I think at some point, I will need to do an experiment by splitting my dough into three equal pieces and then baking to 195 F, 200 F and 205 F, respectively, to observe the differences. I seem to recall seeing somewhere once that pulling the loaf at a lower temperature would keep it softer a few days down the road (and I usually try to stretch my sandwich loaves to last 3 or 4 days), but can't find any specifics.

The vital wheat gluten is an artifact of when I used to bake with all whole grain spelt. I did find, in that case, that it really did help with the rise. I suppose that I do not need it now that I have gone back to using over 50% white spelt. I shall experiment with this, too. I enjoyed my whole grain spelt bread, but found it didn't work well as a sandwich loaf... which is unfortunate, since it is about 1/3 cheaper than white spelt.

I will report back here over the next few weeks as I experiment.

 

elight's picture
elight

Wanted to report back with some findings now that I've finally had time to bake some loaves since my original post.

Yesterday I made a loaf with whole spelt at 62.5% total hydration. It was enriched, including honey, melted butter and an egg. About 10% of the flour was vital wheat gluten. The thing rose so much in the oven it nearly popped out of the pan, I couldn't believe it. I baked at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, and it was very soft (it better have been with all of those enrichments).

Tonight I made the same loaf, but with 50% white spelt and 50% whole spelt, and no vital wheat gluten. Despite the addition of the white spelt, it did not rise nearly as well (neither during bulk fermentation, proofing, nor in the oven). I can thus only believe that the lack of vital wheat gluten had the negative effect. I made this loaf at 60% hydration, as I have always done with my 50/50 loaves, but found that I probably should have done more like 55-58% since in the past I had the vital wheat gluten to sop up a lot of the water. This dough was noticably slacker than my past ones with the vital wheat gluten using 60% hydration.

For my next loaf, I will substitute out some of the whole spelt and replace it with the vital wheat gluten, to confirm its positive effects on the rise.

My goal all along has been to refine my weekly spelt sandwich loaf, so once I put to rest the issue of vital wheat gluten, I will start eliminating ingredients one by one to see which are contributing to the current softness. Stay tuned!

PS - In case anyone out there is reading this, I do plan to put my formulas somewhere sometime soon, once they are refined.

elight's picture
elight

I've now baked a few more loaves, and I have to report that, even when making a loaf with white spelt, the effects of using the vital wheat gluten are dramatic. Without it, the loaves simply do not rise the same.

Here is one loaf I made, which is about 43% whole spelt, 43% white spelt, 13% vital wheat gluten. I also added honey, egg and butter to soften the crumb. This was baked at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. The rise was great and the crumb soft and moist:

This next loaf is a take on French bread with spelt flour. To maintain a moist crumb, I added butter (I know, not technically French bread). Other than that, it is just 88% white spelt and 12% vital wheat gluten. I made a biga the night before with 40% of the spelt flour at 67% hydration. It was baked at 450 in a cloche for 10 minutes, then down to 375 for about another 12 (it is a small loaf). It is the best French-style bread I've ever made with spelt--the rise was great, the dough held its shape during the final proof, and the crumb was slightly chewy with a thin and crisp crust:

Finally, here's one more sandwich loaf I made, which was the same as the first, except that I used about 10% potato flour in place of the spelt flours. I messed up and baked it at 375 for most of the time, as I forgot to turn it down to 350 after putting it in the oven. I haven't cut into it yet, but it looks and smells great, and feels very soft:

In any case, in my opinion, I think that the vital wheat gluten is absolutely necessary to achieving a wheat-like rise when using spelt flour. If you, like me, are able to stomach it (even though I don't tolerate wheat breads), I highly recommend adding it to your spelt breads.

EDIT: On the off chance that anyone ever reads this, I should mention that the total hydration on all of these breads was 60%. If you don't use the vital wheat gluten, however, you probably want to drop that by 2-5%, in my experience.

Farzana's picture
Farzana

I recently have been making spelt bread (I am not nearly as experienced baker's here on this site, shoot I didnt even know what "sponge" is until a few weeks ago !!  But I just wanted to say that I dont use vital wheat gluten to my 100% brown spelt bread.  The height of my breads are very close to what you show here. 

Farzana's picture
Farzana

If someone could tell me how to put a picture up here, I could show you guys.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

good luck :)

abbygirl's picture
abbygirl

for your 100% brown spelt Farzana would be awesome!

Farzana's picture
Farzana

I tried numerous times but unable to upload the pictures.  I actually just made another loaf today.  I cheated and used my bread machine but it still turned out beautiful and high (I actually compared this loaf to the half white and half whole wheat I make for my kids and hubbie and the height is identical !!)  I go to load and click the picture but nothing at all happens !  Frusturating !!  Oh btw, I did post the recipe somewhere here in this site under spelt bread. 

 

elight's picture
elight

Hi Farzana,

Sorry for the delay in my response. Posting an image is a little tricky... the upload function here doesn't seem to work for me either. What I do is upload the photo to an image hosting site first, and then copy-and-paste the URL of the image. Here's the procedure:

1. Go to postimage.org and upload the photo. I recommend choosing the 320x240 resize option.

2. On the page after it is uploaded, there will be a number of links. Click the "copy to clipboard" button next to where it says "Direct Link".

3. Return to this forum, and in your reply, click on the little tree icon in the top of the box (to the left of the giant quotation mark).

4. In the Image URL box, paste in the image link address (Ctrl+V) that was copied to the clipboard in Step 2.

5. Click "Insert".

That's it! Let me know if you have any difficulties. I look forward to seeing your loaves... and I have been tinkering myself recently and will try to report back here as soon as I have some time.