Spelt and sourdough


I'm back baking at home after being away from flour for some time. What drew me back was the sweet nutty flavour of spelt flour. I've made up a sourdough from pineapple juice in accordance with the instructions here [url]http://www.breadtopia.com/make-your-own-sourdough-starter/[/url] from Breadtopia.

Since I live in cooee of the Golden Circle Cannery here in Brisbane making the sourdough with pineapple juice seemed an apt procedure. And in the humid weather here ... it was very easy to get the sourdough to come along.

But I find that there isn't much discussion about spelt bread making and recipes thereof. Most I've seen are of the strangest concoctions and the best warn you about issues that may arise. But with this sourdough I've had no problems with a water+ spelt flour (white/grey/brownish) + salt +Golden Syrup.

It's hard, nonetheless, to get a crisp crust with spelt as its an odd flour to work with. It has a mind of its own and can be very wet in the kneading but will still rise to the occasion when ovened. For this reason I use bread bins to bake in. And it always slices easly as it has a firm crumb almost akin to a rye/wheat blend bread made with buttermilk or other dairy fluid..

I think spelt would make a great flower pot bake for this reason -- if I can find the right sized terracotta pots.

But I'd be interested in different approaches or other recipes....so long as its spelt spelt spelt.

dave riley

267 users have voted.


mister purdy 2007 June 4

Glad to see folk talking about spelt. I have been baking with white spelt sourdough using a 100% rye starter building it to a 100% rye sponge. I end up with around 30% rye and the results are very very good - very light loaves.

My problem has also been with the crust. My final mix is very wet - so i have to prove in tins which i then also bake in - typically 4 hours in a prover at 30 degrees C then 1 hour in the oven 400 F.

My dilemna is: The tops have recently started coming out a rather pale white hue! I have no idea why this might be. A friend suggested it may be something to do with sugars - but was a little vague. Its only the top side of these very square shaped loaves with a flat top the other sides are a beautiful rich honey brown. I know i can get a good crust with regular wheat sourdoughs, but am determined to stick at the spelt (mostly for health reasons)

I love the flower pot idea and will give that a go! Does anyone have any clue about my pale white crust?



TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2007 March 31

Welcome ratbagradio!

Spelt is non-existent where I live. First time I bought spelt was over a year ago, from LA, and, later, I've had some sent to me fm the UK. So, my stash is kept in the freezer vault....very precious. Since the first time. I didn't have great success with my 1st fully spelt try...but then I was in my early sourdough days. Should have used a tin like you. I did subsequent tries mixed with other flours. Yes, it's a very flavourful flour. Love it.

Jack Lang likes to use spelt. [url=http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=80782&hl=spelt]Clicky[/url].

I've been reading that baking in a terracotta pot takes a much longer time. Do tell us how it goes.

ratbagradio 2007 March 31

[b]Terracotta pots[/b]
My problem is that I really got into baking bread in the nineties and then from there started brewing....and the bread took a back seat. Then nothing of the kind except pizza bases to keep my hand in. So my trerracotta baking is a few years back. The core isue is the daimeter of the pot compared to the ability of the bread to rise evenly. Thats' where the trap will be but the trade off is the even crusting because of the terracotta.

Not only is the Golden Circle Cannery -- Australia's home for all things pineapple in cans -- situated 200 metrers from my front gate but the same distance the other way will take me to a bread flour supplier -- Homebread/Basic ingredients [url]http://www.basicingredients.com.a[/url] -- which always has a good supply of spelt including of late some exotic US sourced sourdoughs.

I didn't know anything about spelt until I started to buy my bread at the local farmers' markets on Sundays. They'd offer me "spelt" so I bought it and loved it. But the problem was that these extremely delicious breads were costing me big time to purchase and they'd all be eaten by Tuesday. So back to baking I went and from there it was a short step to 'spelting'. The irony is that despite what has been written about spelt and its gluten, content my breads -- especially driven by my spelt sour dough -- rise beautifully such that all those recipes that called for the addition of milk or oil or buttermilk only seemed to serve to handicap that process.

Maybe it's my use of the Golden Syrup(I prefer that falovour --sortt of malty) rather than sugar in the sourdough starter each time? But I'm getting seriously good results although I've been disappointed with the crusting. I'm now looking at ways to crust it up better -- thus my interest in terracotta flower pots. These mixes are so wet that I cannot so easily bake them stand alone on a tray.So containers are a key consideration in my future tooling.

I for the moment only use" white" flour spelt which as anyone will tell you is a long way from being white when baked. I think blends of white and wholemeal spelt will be my next level of experimentation. But spelt is a very unusaul four wiith some strange habits to get used to. But unlike other flours I've used -- "spelt' seems to enter a dialogue with you and will always indicate it needs more water or more flour to work its magic. Other flours I use will collapse on you and lock your out of further intervention. But spet always wants to chat...

rbd 2007 April 1

Hey Dave,

We use spelt in the same manner as any other flours we use in baking...
(be it bread, cake, pizza's or whatever)

with 2 exceptions.....

[1] Spelt does not need quite as much water, compared to other flours.
A reduction of water(liquids) in any of your recipes should work well.

[2] The gluten in Spelt are more fragile, compared to standard flours, therefore do not need quite as much kneading to develop fully.

Spelt has a wonderful nutty sweet flavour on its own, I feel there is no need to add any other sweeteners/flavours to the final baked product.

Happy baking

Basic ingredients Homebread

Raydoo 2009 January 3
I understand that diastatic malt helps with thicker/browner crusts in 100% spelt breads.  Most spelt flours lack the malted barley present in most wheat flours (some users may require spelt-only), and the yeast may need a boost to get food from the spelt.  I can't speak from experience though, as I've only done part-spelt (30-40%) so far...

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