The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mystery: New WG Spelt needs more AND less water.

AlisonKay's picture

Mystery: New WG Spelt needs more AND less water.

I recently changed my usual wholegrain farro spelta flour to another brand.

I've been using it, 100%, in two different breads.

Bread number 1 has no autolyse and is flour, salt, honey, water and a starter.

Bread number 2 has an hour-long autolyse (which includes flour, water and honey, no salt) and is flour salt, honey, water and a starter too (but in different proportions to bread number 1).

I am getting strange results.

With this new flour, bread number 1 is less sticky than normal. Instead of sticking to my hands initially and needing 5/6 mins of working to get to a good consistency, it is non-sticky from the beginning and ends up a much less hydrated bread.

With this new flour, bread number 2 (the one with the autolyse) is MORE sticky than normal when I bring it all together, to the point where it is unworkable.

How can the same new flour, used in recipes kept exactly the same as previously need more water in bread 1 and less water in bread 2?

Does the autolyse really make that much difference? It is the only thing I can think of!

A few more details: 1- This new flour feels much more grainy than my previous supply - more like a hard wheat would, and 2 - This new flour is so much less extensible. I used to be able to stretch my old dough good and long but this flour breaks into a spider's web when I try to stretch.

Is the protein content (which I don't know and cannot access) making a difference too?

Many thanks for any insight.

idaveindy's picture


idaveindy's picture

- the new brand may have different proportions of the constituent flours (farro = spelt + emmer + einkorn, according to wiki).   

- the new brand has larger particle size ("more grainy").

- the pre-existing moisture content (as it comes out of the bag) may be different.

All of these things would have an influence on how the flour reacts to hydration/soak time (autolyse) and % prefermented flour (starter).

You just need to find the new "sweet spot" of hydration %, autolyse time, and % starter that best suits this brand of flour, for each of your two formulas.


With whole grains, and especially coarsely ground, poor extensibility is mitigated by a good pre-soak.  And even then, with my home-milled grain, and a 1 hour pre-soak/autolyse, I don't get decent extensibility until about an hour after adding the starter/levain.  IOW, my dough doesn't become stretch-and-foldable until 2 hours after the flour is first wetted.

AlisonKay's picture

Thanks Dave.

Both flours are farro spelta. The bread that requires stretch and fold and went spidery had had an hour autolyse and a 3.5 hour sit before the stretching. I am used to having to work differently based on the flour but this seems extreme!

I think your notion of the sweet-spot has truth but not sure I have the patience to work with this flour till I find it.

I have some whole grains of this same flour in the freezer, interested to see how they react to my own milling.