The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

20220126 Michael's 100% spelt @ 100% hydration challenge

Yippee's picture

20220126 Michael's 100% spelt @ 100% hydration challenge



To learn more about concentrated lactic acid sourdough (CLAS), please see here and here




It must have been nearly a decade since I bravely "declared" to take up Michael's 100% spelt @ 100% hydration challenge. I haven't forgotten about it in all these years, but I haven't done anything about it either. Well, until now. 


Back then, I was confident that, with double hydration, I could easily develop the dough with my Zojirushi, even if it's at 100% hydration. I'm still sure that will work. But these days, we all know that we can achieve similar results if we give the dough some time and a few folds. So instead of intensely staring at how my Zo is mixing👀👀👀, I will handle the dough (and the entire bake) with a minimalist approach. 


Nowadays, the only white flour I keep is AP because I am tired of throwing away bags after bags of rancid flour. If I need any flour other than AP, I'd grind it fresh from whole grains. So I will be using fresh, whole spelt flour to take up Michael's challenge. I specifically made a spelt CLAS for this event so that my bread is truly 100% spelt. 


So Michael, here it goes:


85% fresh, whole spelt flour, ground by Vitamix

15% whole spelt CLAS

22.5% water - whole spelt CLAS

77.5% water

2.3% salt

0.3% yeast



everything in Zo until barely incorporated; ~3 mins; DT 29C

Transfer the shaggy mass to a greased plastic container. 



30C x 150 mins

fold every 30 mins




load it into a granite roaster



35C x 20 mins 



Cold oven 

Leave the lid on the roaster the whole time

Heat to 425F; ~ 24mins

425F x 45 mins (possibly can reduce 5-10 minutes next time; I'm still new to cold oven baking)







My "crème brûlée" whole spelt CLAS.  It's so dark because I forgot I was making a new CLAS and left it in the Instant Pot for days. 





A shaggy mass after a ~ 3-min mix





The dough at the end of bulk after folds at 30-min intervals





Read to prove











The tasty pancake - flavorful with a pronounced, lingering tangy aftertaste.  Crisp and slightly "smoky" due to the charred (but not burned) bottom. 















happycat's picture

Looks tasty to me and nicely aerated. My adventures with rye + fresh milled spelt were pretty flat, too and I didn't get a crumb anywhere as nice as yours. What a great colour, too. I'm thinking to cheat next time and use IDY and probably a pan :)

Yippee's picture

Hey, Cat:

What kind of bread is this?  Did you post it?  Shouldn't the bread be less lofty if it has rye in it?  You may be too hard on yourself!  Using a pan may help maintain the height, but you'll trade off the crust.  I was surprised at how good the crust of my bread turned out.  I wasn't sure what to expect from cold oven baking.  Now I want to explore it to get the most out of it.  If you have any tips on cold oven baking, please share.  I have learned so much from you guys!  Thank you!


happycat's picture

Thanks Yippee. They were posted as Franconia and Auvergne.  You are right of course about rye being an issue. A scald probably would've helped compensate for the gluten deficiency.

That's a good point about flavour from the crust. Yours is gorgeous!

Unfortunately I've never done cold oven baking but I'm always learning :)

JonJ's picture

Hi Yippee, 

You did it! Very skillful.

Not a follower of the CLAS religion (yet) so please forgive the stupid questions. The 30% CLAS water is the top part of the crème brûlée, right? And surely leaving it in the instant pot for days (was it on?) would kill some lactobacillus? How do you keep the dough at 30 and 35°C is that also the instant pot?


Yippee's picture



I use the yogurt function of the Instant Pot to make CLAS. Supposedly, the temperature at this setting is best for the LAB to reproduce, so I don't think constantly leaving it in yogurt mode will kill it (unless the medium becomes too acidic?). I'm not sure if that would happen because when I measured its pH, it was 3.8. This value is within the normal range for CLAS.

Before using CLAS, I stirred it - so I was not getting the water from the top and the flour from the bottom of the creme brulee. I have listed the respective percentages of CLAS flour and water to show the it's hydration (150%) (There are typos in my formula, which I will correct).


Here's how I maintain the various temperatures for fermentation:

30C - a preset fermentation cycle of my bread machine

35C - the proof function of my oven; P.S. The “Less” mode of Instant Pot's yogurt setting

42C - The “Normal” mode of Instant Pot's yogurt setting

I also have a Brod & Taylor proofer.


I hope I have answered your questions.




Benito's picture

Yippee, although you didn’t get the rise you wanted, you certainly got an amazing crumb, really great.  I’ve recently had some luck doing 100% spelt at 96% hydration (not the 100% you did).  However, I added some vital wheat gluten, used a stiff sweet levain and did a scald of the sifted bran.  I think if I didn’t add any vital wheat gluten it would have spread some, but I also think that the scald really helped.

Yippee's picture

Have a good trip!


mwilson's picture

That 100% spelt post of mine sure was a long time ago!

And you've set the bar even higher and made it look effortless. A true masterclass of baking!

Well done and thanks for taking on the challenge!

Michael 😊