The Fresh Loaf

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Quest for Extremely Healthy Spelt Rye Sourdough Recipe

python_mainly's picture

Quest for Extremely Healthy Spelt Rye Sourdough Recipe

Hi Fresh Loaf community,

I'm on a quest to find a recipe for an extremely healthy spelt rye sourdough bread recipe. I'm seeking your input on a recipe guideline. 

Here's the background:  I've been following this site for more than 7 years and I absolutely love seeing everyone's hard work. While I do a lot of cooking on a daily/weekly basis, I've only successfully baked the classic Tartine Country Loaf on a few occasions. For the last 2-3 years, I've been really eating as close to Whole 30 style as possible (which means no bread). But a bite of a good sourdough bread is one of my favorites tastes on earth! So, I'd like to incorporate small amounts of healthy bread back into my weekly eating program. 

My main goal is to create a loaf of bread that optimizes health, taste, and cost. Obviously, any form of gluten does not qualify for Whole 30, but I'd love for a nutritionist approve of this bread recipe.

I'm going to list why I think a spelt rye sourdough might be best and my thoughts/methods for a quality recipe. I'd love the TFL community's input on all the topics below:

Why I Think A Spelt Rye Sourdough Bread is Healthiest:

  1. Spelt/Rye breads are typically high in fiber. Maximizing fiber content is one of my goals for this recipe. My thinking is "well... if your body doesn't like accepting gluten, this bread will at least pass through you quickly".  ;)
  2. Fermented foods are recommended by nutritionists for good gut health. I wouldn't put a baked loaf of sourdough bread into the "fermented foods" category, but I have a hunch that using the fermented sourdough starter is healthier than not using it in a bread recipe. 
  3. While some breads may be best suited for wheat/white flour, Spelt/Rye recipes can really be a canvas for incorporating various multi-grain ingredients. 

But maybe someone is aware of a healthier bread that isn't too far off from standard sourdough bread prep?

Methods/Thoughts for a Quality Recipe:

  1. I want to use a sourdough starter. I think a 50% white/50% wheat starter is what I'll use. But maybe someone recommends only using spelt flour for such a starter?
  2. More research is being done lately that suggests eating seeds is not good for your body to digest. So, if I use any seeds in this recipe, I'd love to first soak them and then blend/food process them until they reach a paste or sauce-like texture that can be added to the dough. Or seed that have been ground.
  3. Spelt/Ryes often include alcohol (like beer) in the recipe. I want to exclude alcohol. 
  4. Spelt/Ryes often include a sweetener like molasses, syrup, honey, or treacle. I want to exclude all these sweeteners and get creative. I'd love to create a reduction sauce from soaked prunes/dates/figs to make a sweetener that resembles molasses. Has anyone ever tried making an all-natural sweetener in this fashion? 
  5. I also think Spelt/Rye breads keep in the freezer really well. I'll probably slice up the remaining bread, put it in the freezer, and pull it out for a quick pan fry.

Final Recipe

I think my final recipe will look something like this (but would love any kind of input from the community):

  • XX% of spelt flour (I'm currently considering Nature's Legacy VitaSpelt Non-GMO Whole Grain Spelt)  
  • XX% of rye flour (I'm currently considering Hodgson Mill All Natural Rye Flour) 
  • XX% of sourdough starter
  • XX% of salt
  • Optional but likely: XX% of ground flax seed
  • Optional but likely: XX% of prune reduction sauce homemade sweetener


My recipe inspirations are:'
Renee's Rye Bread from Tartine No. 3


In honor of meal prep, I'd love to make 2-4 loaves like this every other Sunday:





wally's picture

You don’t come out and state it directly, but your post leaves me with the strong impression you don’t tolerate gluten well. Because rye is deficient in one of the components of gluten, unless you incorporate a portion of high gluten flour you are probably going to end up with a very dense loaf of bread. Something resembling a true pumpernickel. Just food for thought. If you go ahead I might suggest that you create a rye soaker using boiling water that sits overnight. It will add perceptible sweetness to your loaf. Also, if you soak flaxseeds overnight they will be digestible and not require buzzing in a food processor. Good luck!

python_mainly's picture

Thanks for the message, Wally.

Regarding your comment "your post leaves me with the strong impression you don’t tolerate gluten well"... I actually tolerate it well. I'm into fitness and eating properly. I've researched and experimented with a lot of eating programs like Whole 30, Keto, Paleo, Macros, etc. I've done a handful of Whole 30 programs and for more than 30 day periods. While on the whole 30, I'm usually very disciplined. Afterward a Whole 30 session, I noticed that I exhibit lactose-intolerant symptoms if I immediately go back to a little diary. I don't have a whole lot of trouble with glutten/bread/pasta/etc. but I do believe I generally feel more healthy when I eat less bread and pasta (even though I love bread so much). So, what I'm trying to do is evolve my diet where most of my meals and snacks fall within whole 30 guidelines but I still consume a small amount of diary and glutten on a daily basis so I don't ever negate it so much that my body starts to reject them. 

I have never tried a rye soaker. I will add that into my research and give it a try! 

I recently found this post which has similar goals and it's a pretty healthy loaf: This guy's post echos a lot of what I'm trying to do. I would like to make improvements on his recipe where I can tweak it to be as healthy as possible. He mentions a switch from guar gum to ground flax seed. I actually have some guar gum that I was experimenting with to make some GF pasta.

Fermenting and soaking foods is often considered to be a technique to improve digestion and gut health. Fermentation of the sourdough is a likely technique that'll help this cause. But I was unaware of the rye soaker method you mentioned and I'll definitely see about this. 

I was wondering about a pumpernickel. But don't most pumpernickels include molasses/treacle and caraway seeds? I was hoping to not include these two ingredients if possible. 

And if I end up soaking rye overnight for the loaf... I might as well soak the flax seeds and as I like the texture of the seeds in the bread. For convenience purposes, the ground flax seed may rule out in the end. I'll consider costs, convenience, and overall finished product. 

Some lingering questions I have are:

What types of flour are considered the "healthiest"? "Healthy" could be debatable so I guess which flours are considered more nourishing for your body from a perspective that the body will tolerate, benefit, and ultimately process it well? 


What techniques are considered the best from a health perspective? Is sourdough the best approach? Is the rye soaker a great addition from a health perspective?

Thanks for considering adding some input!!



wally's picture

True pumpernickel does include a small amount of molasses, You also need to source rye chops, rye berries and rye meal which can be difficult to find.

I’m no authority on which are the healthiest breads. I do know that you want to use high quality flours - those that specifically state that they are unbleached and unbromated. These have more naturally occurring nutrients that have not been removed chemically.

As for sourdough, in addition to prolonging the life of the load because of their acidity (so delays staling in other words), breads made with sourdough are often tolerated better by folks with gluten-related diseases.

Finally, the rye soaker (made using boiling water) adds a natural sweetness to the finished product. If the overnight temps are fairly high where you are, it’s often suggested that you add a small portion of the salt called for in the recipe to the soaker to retard excess amylase activity.

Good luck with your experimentations!

Elsie_iu's picture

if making healthy bread is what you're after? Not only does it offer more nutrition, but it's also naturally sweet. You can drop the added-sugar too in that case. 

python_mainly's picture

I have never used sprouted flour before.  There seems to be wheat, spelt, white, etc in the “sprouted” offering. I take it it’s a healthier flour due to a different harvesting technique?


Elsie_iu's picture

Instead, sprouting is an additional process that follows. Sprouting grains means we're letting grain berries germinate after harvesting. To do this, grains are first soaked in water for a few hours. Then, they're drained and allowed to sprout until the length of their radicle (which will become the root if allowed to grow further) is the same as the berries themselves. This takes another 24 hours or so, depending on the temperature. The grains are then dehydrated and milled into flour. You can choose to buy sprouted flour or whole sprouted berries and mill them yourself if you own a grain mill. I like to sprout my own berries then mill them fresh each time. 

They're far sweeter than regular whole grains as enzymes are activated during the sprouting process. Amylases break down stored starch into simple sugar so bread with sprouted flour is naturally sweet. My bread often contains 30-50% sprouted flour that it tastes like enriched bread with at least 15% sugar, despite having no added sweetener. Phytate, an anti-nutritional factor present in whole grains, is also degraded. This enhances the bio-availability of minerals and vitamins.

One downside of using sprouted flour is that proteases activity is boosted during germination. Gluten is rapidly degraded, during both grain sprouting and dough fermentation. The dough is thus weaker than dough with regular whole grain flour. Sprouted spelt is particularly prone to dough proteolytic degradation. If you're working with rye, amylasis activity should be taken into consideration as well. Avoiding over-hydration, high dough temperature and prolonged room temperature fermentation help reduce the risk of enzymatic degradation in general. 

python_mainly's picture

Thanks for the detailed response, Elsie! I was familiar with maybe 15% of your information.

Outside of bread baking, I'm currently trying to understand Phytic Acid present in legumes/corn/grain/etc. I'm trying to devise a way to incorporate more lentils, chickpeas, and black beans into my eating program. One method that I know which helps is soaking them. Another method can be consuming them with a 2-3x ratio of Vitamin C. I'm testing some meal prep recipes on this one. 

Kudos to you for sprouting and milling the grains yourself! I'm impressed. I don't have the equipment for that process but maybe someday. It sounds like your process is buying the grain berries, soaking/germinating, then milling?

I really like the element of sweetness the sprouting technique adds that you mentioned. I certainly would be a fan of this "sweet" aspect. 

I realize that it's often the case that the healthier you go, the less picturesque country loaf you get in terms of dough crumb/texture/rise/springiness. That's why I'm thinking I'll have to turn to the baking pan square, German-style loaves. 

I'd be happy to hear any other information you have to share or links to recipes! Thanks!

Elsie_iu's picture

you might check out my blog posts for ideas. I don't bake with rye often but sprouted spelt is included in quite a few of my formulae. Yes, I sprout grains from whole berries and mill them myself as I'm milling my own whole grain flour (non-sprouted) anyway. Although the flour won't be as fine, you might try grinding the dried sprouted berries in a blender. Also, many option to make a paste out of wet sprouted berries and incorporate it to the dough as well. 

Most of my knowledge is learnt either from school or from other bakers on this site so I can't take the credit. Dabrownman in particular, has taught me a lot in whole grain and sprouted grain baking. My rationale for baking with whole grains was making bread healthier at first. Now though, I'm addicted to their flavor :) The aroma of freshly milled sprouted flour is life-changing! 

Hope this helps! 

python_mainly's picture

Elsie, thanks for sharing. I have seen your blog posts without knowing it. I always know it's you based on the high quality dishes of food you prepare alongside your bread baking! You are an amazing chef! And I'm aware of the highly regarded Dabrownman. I'll do some more research on his posts.

Interesting note you make about grinding sprouted berries in the blender. 

Are you familiar with the Kitchenaid Grain Mill attachment? Do you know if their grain mill works well or is it not the best and more a way for kitchenaid to make more money off a silly attachment?

pmccool's picture


I'm not Elsie but I do have a KGM. And this might just be your lucky day because it is for sale!  PM me if you are interested. 

If you pay full retail price for the mill, it is grossly overpriced relative to its capabilities.  If you understand its llimitations and get a good deal😋, it is a handy tool to have around.  

The KGM is very effective at producing cracked grains, coarse meals, fine meals, and coarse flours.  At its finest setting, the flour feels slightly gritty.  It will not produce anything as fine as a typical AP flour.  Generally speaking, that’s okay since whole grain flours don’t usually need to be at talcum powder fineness.  

The mill uses steel burrs to grind, rather than stones. It works well with dry grains and beans but is not intended for use with oily seeds or nuts (flax, sesame, etc.).

If you want to dip your toes in the home milling waters, it’s a comparatively easy way to go.  There's not another appliance to take up space on your counter nor do you have to pay for another motor.  Longer term, you may find you want a mill with more capacity or different features.  Or maybe the KGM will fit your needs exactly.  I eventually succumbed to a too-good-to-pass-up deal on a used Komo Fidibus Classic mill or I would still be using the KGM.  


python_mainly's picture

Thanks for the KGM follow up. Would you mind sharing a few of the grain products you have milled on your KGM attachment? Maybe some turn out better than others from your experience?

Please share the grain product names or even provide a few amazon links if you don't mind. I just want to make sure I can associate what types of flour I would be milling with the KGM. Thank you!

pmccool's picture

I have milled:

  • hard red wheat to make cracked wheat and whole wheat flour
  • rye to produce cracked rye, rye meal, and whole rye flour
  • oat groats and steel-cut oats to produce whole oat flour
  • barley to produce whole barley flour

Note that oats and barley are usually hulled before you purchase them.  

I have not milled durum wheat or ancient wheats like spelt, emmer, or einkorn, so I can't say how those would behave.  Nor have I milled hard white wheat but I have no reason to expect it to behave differently than the hard red wheat that I have milled.  Soft wheat, red or white, should be a breeze although, again, I have not milled it with the KGM.

The KGM is a rather simple tool.  It gives you a much wider range of milled grains/meals/flours than an impact mill but cannot begin to match the fineness of the flours produced by impact mills or stone mills.  You could think of it as the Chevrolet of grain mills.  If you want a "Lexus" mill instead, look at the Mock and Komo mills.  If you want a F350 with dual wheels and a towing package, look at the Grainmaker mill.  

To get a sense of the textures that the KGM can produce take a look at this photo from The Rye Baker blog.  The bottom row is indicative, starting with the whole rye kernels on the left and going to the fine meal on the right (which is about equal to Hodgson Mills whole rye flour for particle size).  What Stan calls coarse meal I would call cracked rye.  The KGM can mill down to the fine meal level, perhaps slightly finer.  It will not mill anything as fine as the flours in the top row of the image.  The KGM can achieve similar results for each of the grains I mentioned, above.