The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

100% Spelt Sourdough

stephen.c's picture

100% Spelt Sourdough

Hi There,

I have heard some people bake to discharge the tension and the stress after a week of hard working but this definitely did not happen to me :).

In fact I started baking with the idea of saving some money and after lots of failures, I started becoming even more stressed. As any newbie, I had been looking for the best sourdough recipe and none of the ones I tried worked for me. Surely, I told myself, people do not reveal the secrets behind a wonderful loaf nor the most popular books do. 

The Tartine Bread book and other ooks I read talk about very weird things like "feeling the dough", "watching the dough", "touching the dough" etc. like it was your beloved pet; Are they kidding me? they made me reading hundreds of pages and they didn't even share with me any secret? 

Probably those readings annoyed me so much that I decided not to follow any recipe and try to find the secrets by myself. It did not take long time to realize I was actually doing the weird things I did not want to believe were actually the best advises i was ever given :)

I still have a lot to learn but last results (attached photo) were pretty decent so I decided to share with this blog my recipe ad the method I use with the hope you can maybe improve it even more.

I have to say it was impossible to find a 100% spelt sourdough recipe on the Internet. Probably reason being spelt flour is not the best flour to make bread. This is the reason why I actually decided to add 8% Vital Wheat Gluten.

The ingredients I use are:

  • 8% VWG
  • 46% Wholemeal Spelt Flour
  • 46% White Spelt Flour
  • 66% Water
  • 1.8% Salt
  • 27.27% Wholmeal Spelt Starter/levian 100% Hydration

The above ingredients give me:

  • 12% Inoculation
  • 70% Hydration

The method I use is:

  • Autolyse 40/50 minutes (only Flour with VWG and water)
  • Add the salt and the starter and knead for 5 min just to incorporate everything into the dough
  • S&F every 30 minutes or so for 3/4 times
  • Rest for a hour or so (depends on how you feel the dough :), it should look alive, bubbling, domed at the edges etc.)
  • Shape and put in the banneton to proof (I use 100% rice flour to dust the bannetons)
  • Proof up to the point the dough springs back when poked (I failed the poke test several times as I was kind of mislead by what I read on the many forums. If the dough does not try to push your finger back that is too late and you wont have any oven spring)
  • Slash & Bake. I tried with both a dutch oven and a clay pot. The former gives you a better crust while the latter is probably more flexible as for example it allows me to cook 2 loaves at the same time. In both cases I do pre-heat them and spray the top with water. Cook 25 minutes at 250 Celsius and 30/35 minutes at 220 Celcius.

There are several things I need to improve

  • Slashing: the lame sticks to the dough and never get a clear and sharp cut :(
  • Crumb: they are getting better but I am looking for bigger holes hence a loaf which appears to be lighter
  • Taste: although the taste is great, probably I will try to retard the BF or the PF process in order to achieve a more sour bread
  • Crust: I am looking for more crunchy crust. Especially for the loaves cooked in the clay pot, unless I overcook the bread a bit, the crust is quite soft which is disappointing

I hope you found this post useful, any advice on how to improve any of the points above would be much appreciated.

Baking is an experience everyone should do at least once in their life. The only drawback is that you can become addicted and you start eating bread just to have the excuse to bake even more :D

Best regards!




Elsie_iu's picture

and the slashing isn't half bad!

Stressing out would only produce a poorer bread. Failures are inevitable and fear would do nothing but increases its occurrence. Baking should be an enjoyable experience so relax! I won't be surprised to know that your bakes improves suddenly when you finally learn to enjoy the process.

Happy baking!

stephen.c's picture


Many thanks for your comment, indeed I am much more relaxed compared to when I started baking bread and it is a very enjoyable experience.


dabrownman's picture

66% hydration is a bit low.  You should take Michael Wilson's challenge of thois bread at 100% hydration and see if your stress level changes:-)

Well done and happy baking.

Elsie_iu's picture

That would turn into a pancake batter even with 100% whole spelt (let's be honest, I know we both have first hand experience in that! ). That's a true nightmare!

stephen.c's picture

Hi,thanks for your comment. I would have thought the hydration of my bread after including the starter in the math, it works out 70%. Am I missing something here? 

That said I tried up to 80% hydration but it was when I failed the poke test so I might give another go and see what happens.

Would you suggest to increase the amount of VWG as a consequence of adding more water?


nmygarden's picture

Stefano, your loaves look wonderful, and I bet they taste even better. Indeed, your reading was not in vain, as your determination and practice led you to the secrets after all. Feeling, touching, watching, and sensing the development of the dough make all the difference. Spelt is not the easiest grain to begin with, but its taste and texture are so rewarding to make it worth the effort.

Continue to explore and and bring us your thoughts and experiences often. Happy baking!

stephen.c's picture


Thanks for your kindness.

Could you explain a bit more what do you mean with saying spelt is not the best grain to start with?

I read somewhere it absorbs less water than other types of flour also it probably has less gluten than a bread flour but I could not find anything more on this topic ☹️


nmygarden's picture

I love spelt - the taste and texture, but as a new-ish baker, it was sometimes disappointing to me when it didn't produce the high oven spring I sought. Many of us begin with white flour, and practice until we master it, before branching out. But I used it, anyway, because it's just wonderful, as you've discovered, also. Each grain offers its special characteristics, and has its quirks. Enjoy your adventures and experiences - see where they take you!

Again, your loaves are lovely!


Ru007's picture

Well done Stefano :)

stephen.c's picture

Cheers! ?