The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help looking for recipe / guidance

powis's picture

Help looking for recipe / guidance

Hi all - new to the forum and bread making here. Looking for some direction to achieve the bread that I think I want.

Some history- so far I have had only a few successes following the standard breadtopia spelt sourdough recipe (substituting with organic white spelt): Essentially in my warm summer kitchen just a few stretch and folds, leave ~8hrs, then pinch and put in a Banneton for ~1 hr and DO for 30mins lid on. Very delicious bread consumed fresh but overnight it seems to go stale wrapped in teatowels (still delicious when toasted). Also when I started bread making I had some failures probably due to excessive proofing resulting in dense flat bread.

I am very much interested in nutrition and reducing harmful aspect of consuming grains - ie maximising the yeast digestion of the flour and conversion into B vitamins, reduction in Phytates etc. I am also primarily interested in Spelt (or maybe something like Rye in the future) for potential increased tolerance. I also think that starchy foods are best accompanied by fat (I remember some research to this note) and I certainly enjoy my bread with at least some organic butter on it. I don't consider moderate amounts of butter and coconut oil as unhealthy. 

So this leads me to my questions:

1) Is there a sourdough method / recipe which includes a long, high hydration fermentation of most of the flour (to maximise feeding, but "overproofing"), and then a little more flour added at the end to allow for achieving the right hydration and a final feed & rise?

2) Is there a method that incorporates fats like butter / coconut oil into the dough and what sort of outcome does that give? 

3) random question : I thought whole grain flour had rancidity issues, leading to primarily white flour use in the 20th century. Yet I am seeing wholegrain organic spelt flour at my supermarket? Something doesn't add up to me. 

Thanks - any help in the right direction would be much appreciated.






David R's picture
David R

Dough often has an important fat component - how much depends on the type of dough. Pastry dough for example is usually quite high in fat. The question is not can you add fat, but what kind of dough do you end up with when you do. You can imagine that forming a loaf of bread from croissant dough would not give "a loaf of bread" as that is commonly defined, even though it's obviously loaf-shaped and obviously made of dough.

FueledByCoffee's picture

1)  What outcome are you trying to achieve and what are you concerns?  What you wrote seems a little jumbled and I'm not quite sure I understand what you're really getting at.  It seems like you are concerned about not wasting sourdough culture through the feedings that aren't being used?  And what type of bread do you really desire to make?

2) I've never added coconut oil but you certainly could.  Adding fats to your dough typically gives you a more tender and softer bread. 

3) Wholegrain flours will go rancid faster than white flour because of the high level of oils/fats present in the bran that is filtered out in the milling process when making white flour.  Rancidity can be reached in about 3 months at ambient temperatures but if stored in a tight container in the freezer should last considerably longer (6 months-ish).  White flour has about 6 month - 1 year if stored in good conditions.  I think the main reason we are seeing more of this in stores has to do with consumer demand.  The trend of ancient grains and whole grains is something that has been slowly growing and becoming more mainstream.

powis's picture

Thanks for the responses. Regarding 1) my concern is that I want a loaf that has flour which has undergone the maximum amount of fermentation, but still resembles a loaf :) for possible health benefits

FueledByCoffee's picture

Hmm.  This is certainly not an area which I'm an expert in, I'm a baker not an expert in health.  I'm not sure what the comparative health benefit is between baking a loaf with "maximum fermentation" as opposed to what I would consider the normal amount.  As you increase the amount of fermentation you weaken your gluten structure due to the acidity created by sourdough fermentation.  As you push your fermentation further you are also going to make a loaf that becomes unpleasantly sour.  You can do this with just about any sourdough formula but as to which would maximize fermentation and still turn out the best that is a difficult question to answer.  If you build up a lot of fermentation in your culture and use it at a high percentage in your final dough you are going to undermine your ability to ferment the final dough for a long period of time.  Conversely if you use a young culture and feed at a low percentage into the final dough you can extend the fermentation of your final dough.  In the end you may end up with a loaf that produces a similar PH but one is going to be a much nicer loaf.  Regardless of what you do there will be a balance between how much fermentation and acidity you are introducing in to the mix and how long you will be able to ferment with degrading your gluten structure.  In terms of making something resembling a loaf with the highest level of fermentation you would probably be looking at a fairly stiff dough...Sorry for the train of thought rambling, hopefully these intuitions are somewhat helpful/

I'm not sure what the detailed scientific analysis would look like on the health benefits but I would think that baking a flavorful sourdough loaf and adding in some other healthy grains would be better than an overly acidic loaf on your gut microbiome.  Perhaps there is someone here who knows more about this than I do.  But that is my intuition as a baker.

Hopefully someone here can drop some science on us because now I'm just curious...

7oaks's picture

Hi Powis,

I believe that you are seeking a method to make great bread using long, slow or even extreme fermentation. I cannot speak of the addition of more flour at the end of fermentation, but I doubt that is necessary. I believe the combination of low inoculation (or either SD starter or dry yeast) and slow fermentation (perhaps in the fridge or a cool place during Summer months) can make great bread. The British baker, Vanessa Kimbell, is an advocate of this approach after becoming unable to digest wheat after a large dose of antibiotics. She writes of this and phytonutrients in her book The Sourdough School.

Another baker who believes in this approach is Teresa Greenway in her e booklet Extreme Fermentation (Sourdough) which touches on the subject. She also has an online course which shows and talks about the  method and variations.  Her  recipes are an adaptation of the Do Nothing bread developed by Yohan Ferrant.

If I have understood you correctly I feel sure that an internet search on these 3 bakers will set you on the right path.

As for adding butter, my understanding is that this can soften the crumb, add flavour and may improve the keeping qualities of the bread. I sometimes use 25g of softened butter to about 850g of dough, but feel free to experiment.


AlisonKay's picture

Hi Powis,

I have also experienced the Breadtopia 100% Spelt wm recipe going stale very quickly. It's frustrating as it is a nice bread otherwise. I'm thinking of experimenting with it by adding some form of fat to see if that helps. At the moment I'm leaning towards adding some goat kefir in place of a percentage of the water. May not work, but I like to experiment.

I've never seen coconut oil in a recipe, but am sure it is possible. What's the temperature where you live? My only wondering about it is that it is so solid at room temperature for me and perhaps that'd affect the mix/bread somehow. I have tried olive oil as a fat, but am not happy totally as I know it is oxidising at the temperatures I cook the bread at. I've used butter, ghee and lard with success in baking. 

I agree with the long, slow fermentation being instinctively the best health-wise. I have worked a little with a sourdough biga (on 100% wholemeal recipes including rye and some biodynamic wheat). Here a large proportion of my flour is prefermented at a low hydration for 14-18 hours at a cold temperature. 

Hope this helps and have fun experimenting.

powis's picture

Any idea how I would incorporate butter into the Yohan do nothing recipe (low starter %)?



powis's picture

Hey all - I think you were spot on with the Yohan recipe advice and thanks for the other info's. Given me a lot to work with.