The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Success - JMonkey's formula for 100% whole grain sourdough hearth breads

Andy's picture

Success - JMonkey's formula for 100% whole grain sourdough hearth breads

Whole Spelt Hearth BreadWhole Spelt Hearth Bread

I tried JMonkey's 100% Whole Grain Hearth Bread recipe with slight modification.

Here's the recipe I used:

100% Whole Spelt Hearth Bread

50 grams spelt starter at 100% hydration

10 grams salt

350 grams water

500 grams whole spelt

1) I ground the flour from spelt berries.

2) I built up the culture two time during the day with fresh flour and water, to make sure it was not too sour, and the yeast was fully active.

3) Mixed the starter, salt and water together thoroughly. Then added the flour, until completely incorporated. Let the mix sit for 30 minutes.

4) Folded the dough the first time. And then 3 times more at intervals of 20 minutes.

5) Let the dough sit overnight well covered to prevent drying out. Kept it in the coldest area of the house to delay fermentation. Probably around 64F. And about 10 or 11 hours.

6) rounded the dough into a ball. And let rest for 15 minutes. Made a batard according to Floyd's video. Let the dough raise for about 2 hours and a half. Slashed the dough and baked on a preheated stone.

7) Let sit for a couple of hours before slicing into this silky buttery bread.



Susan's picture

Susan from San Diego

Andy's picture


edh's picture

Really nice loaf Andy! I've been working up the courage to try JMonkey's bread, but seeing yours in all spelt has got me ready to go. I've been having a lot of fun mucking around with spelt and kamut lately; I like the taste of both so much more than plain whole wheat. I've got a long way to go to make them spring properly; the kamut especially makes things a bit dense, but the flavor is worth it!

Thanks for the formula; I'll be trying this one next.


Andy's picture

Hi Edh,

I can't get Kamut to work either. It just rips apart too easily. 

The spelt recipe I used, I modified from JMonkey's recipe by taking out 25grams water. So instead of a 75% hydration, it's more like 70%. 

I'm not sure how it would work at 75%, but my loaves were spreading too flat when I was making 80%. 

Have fun baking. I agree, I like the taste of Spelt better than whole wheat. (even freshly ground.)


JMonkey's picture

What a lovely loaf! I, myself, would have been too fearful of a pancake to try 100% spelt ... but, having seen the success of others, I suppose I'll have to give it a try. Very nice!

Andy's picture

I was making pancakes before at 80% hydration. (Well not quite, but less lift than this time). 

I don't know if it was because of higher hydration, because I was kneading, or not shaping the loaves properly.

I used a mixer, and I found that it's easy to overmix Spelt. And then it becomes a stringy mess. So I like the folding technique, since it develops the gluten gently, but just as good or even better. 

I followed your directions and the batard video, and things turned out all right. Just used less water 350g. 

Give it a try, the taste is different, so it's good for variety.


bwraith's picture

Hi Andy,

I've found the same thing about spelt, i.e. it uses less water, and I think JMonkey may have mentioned in some posts, too. Whole spelt absorbs less water than WW for the same consistency of the dough. I find the whole spelt works well around 70% hydration and WW works well up around 80% or so. I don't usually make my loaves with all spelt, as you have done with great results here, but I adjust my water downward so the combined, I'm using 80% water to WW weight and 70% water to spelt weight in my doughs that have both grains in them.


crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey Andy

Nice spelt loaf.  I am going to have to give spelt a try.  I will probably work in a small percentage and get a feel for it. 

Some thoughts on your most excellent crust and crumb.  First off that is not easy to do.  JMon also posted an awesome 100% whole grain loaf the other day Finally -- a 100% whole grain hearth bread I'm proud of that was "off the heezy" as well.  I noticed that both of you left your dough to set for a long period of time after folding it.  I do the same thing and have noticed major improvement in my crumb as well.  I used to try so hard to gently manipulate and shape my doughs to maintain the bubbles within and usually got mixed results at best.  By letting it set after folding and not touching it for 10 to 20 hours depending on the % of yeast and temp. I find I do not have to be all that gentle with my handling or shaping.  The dough is full of bubbles and feels like it is alive for lack of a better term.  It is also developed fairly well at this point and I can lean on it a bit during shaping and not ruin it.  I wish I had known that leaving the dough alone had such a major impact.  I kept thinking I needed to learn more on how to handle the dough rather than just leaving it alone to do it's thing.  Go figure.

Da Crumb Bum    

bwraith's picture

Hi CrumbBum,

I'm not sure about this, but I think you can separate the issue of soaking from the issue of folding to some extent. I believe the whole grains need a long soak, both for the enzyme action and for full hydration and softening of the bran. I also think the folding isn't as effective if it's done long before the dough starts to rise a little bit. After the acids develop in the dough as the fermentation progresses more, and after the softening of the bran and full hydration of the flour, then the folding seems more effective to me. I think a few folds are good about 1-2 hours before the dough is ready to be shaped, but after the whole grains have soaked for at least a few hours or maybe even 12 hours.

Therefore, I think the following two WW recipes both have good results for about the same reasons:

1) a very tiny amount of starter in a 80% hydrated WW dough that is allowed to soak/ferment overnight, then folded a few times as it gets a little more puffy, then let sit to finish bulk ferment, shape, final proof, and bake.

2) a tiny amount of starter in a 80% hydrated levain allowed to rise overnight, combined with a 80% WW soaker allowed to rest overnight, kneaded and folded a few times during the bulk fermentation as it become puffy over first couple of hours after mixing the levain and the soaker. Then finish bulk ferment shape, proof, and bake.

In both cases, the WW flour was soaked fully, either with levain and soaker, or with one-step long rise time dough. In both cases, the folding happens just as the dough begins to acidify and become puffy, so that the dough still rises for an hour or more undisturbed before shaping.

I agree with you that the WW dough will lose gas to handling more easily. The gluten quality is just not what it would be with a strong white flour with no bran or oils in it. On the other hand, the gluten doesn't develop as well from folding until the grains have soaked and the dough has begun to acidify. That's why I think the ideal folding time is just when it begins to be puffy, not really early in the one-step method, and not really late just before shaping.

I also think it works better to shape loaves earlier than when the dough has doubled in volume during the bulk fermentation.  I've been getting good results by shaping when the dough has risen about 1.5-1.7 times in volume - maybe an hour before it would have doubled.


Andy's picture

Thanks crumb bum.

I agree with your points. It's a really nice feeling to do a few folds, leave the dough overnight, and see how its risen so nicely in the morning. It feels like I didn't do any work but came home with a paycheck. 

I'm pretty rough with my handling. I actually do enough dough for 3 loafs, let it sit together. Then chop it up and roughly make them into balls for resting. 

Then when I form the batards, I try to stretch the dough really tight to get a lot of surface tension. So I'm sure I lose a ton of gas, and collapse a lot of bubbles. But it rises back on the next rise and in the oven.

I find making deep enough slashes really helps. I was making tiny wimpy slashes before which didn't do anything but disappoint.



KipperCat's picture

Wow! You've given me something to shoot for.