First Time With Spelt
Recently, I baked some cardamom bread for friends, and I had a bunch of extra flour and yeast to use up. I haven't been baking for a while and I'm in college, so I left my starter at home.
There was one caveat, though: I always, always bake with whole grains as a portion of my flour, and I only had white flour from the cardamom bread! So, I decided to see what small bags of whole grain flour the supermarket nearby carried. I almost picked up some nice, locally milled rye, but I noticed a bag of Bob's Red Mill spelt nearby. I've been wanting to try baking with spelt for a long time, and this bag was smaller, so I decided to give it a shot.
Having heard about the extensibility of spelt, I decided to do a biga instead of the poolish I normally would for a yeasted bread. I normally preferment ~70% of the flour (including all whole grain flour), but having seen this great recipie, I decided to give a try to prefermenting 90% of my flour. To really get an idea of the flavor that spelt brings, I made 40% of my flour spelt.
That left the formula as follows:
Biga (45% hydration, 750 g)
whole grain spelt flour -- 230 g
all-purpose flour -- 287 g
water -- 232 g
yeast -- 1.5 g
Dough (72% hydration, 1000 g)
biga -- 750 g
all-purpose flour -- 57 g
water -- 181 g
salt -- 11.5 g
I ended up upping the water a bit because the biga was really, really hard to get cohesive without it, so my final dough was probably 74% hydration or so.
I'm very, very satisfied with how it came out -- the flavor is wonderful: wheaty and sweet in the crumb, and assertively wheaty in the crust and the crumb came out relatively open and shiny and translucent, with the right amount of chew. I'm a bit disappointed with the crust -- it's wonderful tasting, but it's a bit thick and didn't brown as much as I'd've liked, but the ovens in the dorms really suck and are hard to steam properly: I had residual steam in there for about 7 or 8 minutes longer than I wanted. Fortunately, the crust isn't leathery: it shatters wonderfully. The loaves were a bit underproofed, but still had great oven spring!
I'm looking forward to working with spelt flour again!