The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Spelt Country Levain

breaducation's picture

Spelt Country Levain

I love a good country bread as I think most people do. It is one of the most fun, beautiful and often times challenging styles of bread to make. However, I find myself becoming bored of the standard 10% whole wheat flour in the formula. In an attempt to changes things up I will often raise or lower the percentage of whole wheat in the dough. As little as a 10% change can have drastic effect of flavor. I've also tried putting all the whole wheat in the starter, something that adds quite a bit of sourness to final flavor.

Lately, I've  been playing around with different flours to accent the flavor. In my latest effort I have used spelt flour in place of the whole wheat. The result is quite nice! It has a subtle nutty flavor that is quite pleasing. I think in my next bake I'll try upping the spelt to 20% and see if I like it as much.

Here are the spelt results:



dabrownman's picture

nicest breads I have ever seen!  If the spelt tastes half as good as it looks than you have a bread that will fly off your shelves.

Very nice baking indeed!  So what temps do you bake at and what hydration are you using?

Thanks for posting.

breaducation's picture

Thanks so much!

My oven is pretty bad. It's a tiny gas oven, probably made in the 70's, that has super strong bottom heat but very little top heat. As a result I have to take a few precautions. I bake in a cast-iron dutch oven set on top of a baking sheet. Without the baking sheet the bottom of the loaf would be black before I would get much top color. I start the oven at 500-515 degrees and I actually leave it there almost the whole time. After I uncover the loaf, I move it as close to the top of the oven as I can as it seems to color the top of the loaf better in this position. This 500g. loaf was in for about 45-50 minutes. I didn't really time it, just watched for coloring. Sometimes I lower the heat to 450 if it's coloring too fast but that is rare. My oven doesn't really retain heat too well.

As for hydration, This dough comes out to around 76% I believe. I used to push hydration a lot more, into the low 80's, but I found it was so much more difficult to get the results I wanted and the pay off wasn't even really better. I'd cut open the loaf and it just felt like there was no bread in there! The crumb would be too light and airy. I prefer lowering the hydration a tad and getting a more consistent bread with a more substantial crumb. Sometimes I will go even lower in hydration if I want a bread that has nice volume and pops really well. Honestly, I think a highly open crumb is more for the baker than it is for the customer(or whoever is eating your bread).

SallyBR's picture

I agree completely with you on this, I think there is too much obsession with extra open crumb - I like my sandwich to be able to hold what I'm spreding on the bread!  ;-)

breaducation's picture

Yes! I have watched many people eat breads that I've made and not a SINGLE one(besides other professional bakers) have ever commented on the openness of the crumb. They will mention the flavor, the crust, the softness, the appearance or the texture but NEVER the crumb. No one has ever said, "I love this bread but I wish the crumb was more open." It's just not something that non-bread enthusiasts care about.

I used to try to push the openness of my crumb but now I just bake for flavor, texture and appearance. I honestly think the resulting bread is much better than one with gigantic open holes in it. It's just so much more useable.

mwilson's picture

That's a seriously good looking loaf! Love the colour.

Why not try 100% spelt?! ;)


breaducation's picture

I have actually tried 100% spelt but didn't get too much volume. I way revisit it soon though. I was also thinking of doing it as a pan bread as I think it would help give it a bit more volume.

Thanks for the kind comments!

Janetcook's picture

Stunning loaf!  Which only goes to show that one doesn't need the 'newest or best' equipment to bake good bread.  Tis my opinion that one only needs to know how to best use what is at hand.  You certainly have figured out the nuances of your oven well.  I am impressed!  ( I have to chuckle as I write these words because I am planning on purchasing a new oven in the fall....not to create better bread but to ease the loading and unloading of loaves.  I currently have a free standing oven and will install a wall oven.  I can't wait!)

Don't know if you have found a spelt recipe you like but Hanseata has one that is a winner here. It is written up as a commercial yeasted loaf with spices and walnuts but I have baked it using WY and no spices.  Always a nice loaf that does rise well.

Good Luck and thanks for the post!


breaducation's picture

Even though I feel I can bake very good bread in my current oven I would still kill for a new one! Baguettes are just about impossible in this thing.