Spelt Bake-Off (title changed from Spelt)

TeckPoh's picture

Note inserted on 10 April 2008:
The idea to change this thread to a bake-off was cooked up here. Let's share our experiences with spelt, what works and what doesn't. Teresa has a very helpful thread on her spelt experience. Nowonmai and bushturkey have started blogs...see here and here. Theoreticgal tells about her spelt starter here. There's lots of time for all to join in...20 days and counting. I may bake another loaf or 2.

Announcing....that spelt has finally arrived on our shores....Bob's Red Mill. It's expensive but I was so thrilled to finally see it here that I bought the lone packet without even glancing at its price. It was the only packet not because many bought it, the shop had only one packet because even they don't know anything about spelt and didn't expect anybody to buy it. I've put in orders for more.

Here's the fully sourdough half plain/half spelt loaf I made last week. I'm toying with the idea of making fully spelt. Shall I?

Thanks for looking.


16 users have voted.


celia's picture
celia 2008 August 3

After my success with the kamut this week, I decided to revisit my spelt recipe.  I made the same dough, without the added vital gluten, kneaded it very briefly, then let it prove for a massive 12+ hours (double what I've been allowing before).  I think it was the added time, or a combination of time plus the fact that the flour has now aged a bit, because when I woke this morning, the dough had risen impressively, and actually had big air bubbles in it!  Shaped, second rise, baked - here's a pic of the hot loaf.  No crumbshots yet... too hot to cut. ;)

Oh, and because it was 5.30am, I forgot to mist the oven, and I STILL got oven spring!

Edit: Here's the crumbshot!

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2008 August 3
I can see spelt has become one of the regular grains in our kitchen. Without all of you sharing your results and experience, we might have been too intimidated by lack of knowledge and bypassed this extraordinary flour. Thanks!

jacklang 2008 August 6
However. I have a problem.
I steam them for 20 mins, but they come out with the dough collapsed. What am I doing wrong?
Should I add baking powder to the dough?
The bread made with the same dough and baked comes out OK, with good crumb texture.

celia's picture
celia 2008 August 7

Jack, I've never made pau, but I know that they normally use a very finely ground flour for it - I suspect stoneground spelt might be too coarse to work successfully.  The way it's been explained to me is that stonegrinding produces larger particles than roller milling, which is harder work for the rising agent to lift.  And in the case of pau, the tradition is to use very white (bleached), very finely ground flour (not sure of the protein content, though).

Here is a recipe from my favourite Malaysian cooking site:

jacklang 2008 August 10
Following the paper cited above I have been experimenting
For simplicity these are plain breads (Mantou) following the roughly formula in the paper.
I started with yeast, and various flours:

100% flour
55% water
1% salt
2% shortening (I used butter)
2% instant yeast

Rough mix; bulk ferment 3.5 hours; sheet and fold 5 times; shape; proof 1 hour; steam 10 mins; cool 5 mins.
Cut in half for the photo.

I used 100g flour for 2 buns. The flours were
9.5% protein organic supermarket (Tesco) own brand wheat
12.5% protein organic supermarket (Tesco) own brand wheat
Glebe Farm white Spelt.

The bulk ferment time is much longer than I would use for pan bread.

To my surprise these were all acceptable, with no steamer collapse.
As expected the dough for the 12.5% wheat flour is dryer and the volume rise lower.
The dough for the spelt wetter, so it slumped a bit.
Sourdough in the next post.
jacklang 2008 August 10
I repeated the experiment with sourdough.
Here I used 30% of the flour as a starter sponge, fermented overnight.
Still 3.5 hours ferment, 1 hour proof for the dough.

Still no collapse.

The 9.5% wheat protein is acceptable
the 12.5% protein wheat was too dry
The spelt was claggy and under fermented, poor volume

These all had lower volume than the yeast equivalent.
Perhaps they could have done with a longer ferment time. I usually reckon my sourdough takes double the time of yeast, so perhaps 7 hours would have been better.

Is it just fermentation time, or the effect of the acid on the starch?

Where next?
Longer ferment?
Add baking powder?
Add alkali, like bicarbonate of soda or lye water?
Experiment with yeast and vinegar?

Suggesttions please...
sourfish 2008 August 10

1500g 100% spelt flour (light sift spelt flour; wholegrain milling flour)

850g 57% water

525g 35% rye leven

30g 2% salt

jacklang 2008 August 11
Same as before, but these are all spelt, with different rising agents added at the 1% level. No salt and 6 hour fermentation.

No steamer collapse.
The plain version (just sourdough) became very liquid, hence its spread shape.
The baking powder (double action) is less liquid, and the phosphate does not seem to have inhibited the yeast.
Best is bicarbonate of soda.  This fizzed during mixing, but I doubt if the rising effect was there after 6 hours of fermentation..
My guess is that the main effect is neutralising the acid, and so stopping the starch degrading. I must try making a (non-edible) version with lye (NaOH).

The colours don't show well, but the surface of the bicarb version was rather grey.
TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2008 August 11

Appreciate you doing this series of tests on baos. Even with regular yeasted baos, my sucess rate wasn't 100%, though close. Moreover, what prevents me from making more baos is the use of highly-bleached and fine bao flour, a flour which I have phased out from our diet. So, your tests using spelt flour is very welcomed indeed, as we see that a high protein level is not necessarily good for making baos.

The recipe I use is this. The rising agents are dry yeast, baking powder AND baking soda. This is for regular baos, not sourdough. However, it is interesting to note that the recipe includes a tablespoon of vinegar, which explains the presence of the soda, which also means the recipe should be easily converted to sourdough. Anyway, I think baos need all the help they can get because of the sugar content.
If I make some charsiew this week, I'll do a more or less straight conversion of that same recipe, i.e. using both baking soda and baking powder. I do have what is labelled double-action (DA) baking powder (for baos), which seems to be different from the other DA baking powder I find on the same shelf in a cake provision shop.

Onward to spelt baos!
TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2008 August 11

1500g 100% spelt flour (light sift spelt flour; wholegrain milling flour)

850g 57% water

525g 35% rye leven

30g 2% salt

Ooh, rye leaven plus spelt flour....must be a very flavourful bread!


Acceber 2008 December 9
I know I am kind of late to the party, but no one commented specifically on this:

[quote]I have found my bread seems to have a nicer crumb the less I knead it. is this perculiar to spelt or just the nature of sourdoughs?[/quote]

Spelt dough in general should be kneaded less than wheat dough.  The gluten is more fragile.

Tim F 2009 February 14
Hi all (1st post)!

This thread inspired me to dig out a bag of spelt I've had in the cupboard for a while but never got around to using. Glad I did, this was (is) a tasty loaf!

100% spelt
55% water
7% starter
2% salt
2 pinches of diastatic malt flour

Brief mix and knead for 1-2 minutes, then left at room temperature for 24 hours, folding a few times in between, then baked in a sealed casserole dish at 220C

The crumb looks a little dense but it is actually a nice texture, and a great flavour from the spelt.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2009 February 14
The pictures are not showing up for me.  And welcome to the forum.  I'm going to try to do a 100% spelt bread in a week or two.
TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2009 February 14
Welcome, Tim!

That certainly looks like a fine spelt loaf! This morning, I was having some sort of brown bread with a bowl of chicken curry in a local 'coffee shop' chain. And, I wished I had bread which looked like yours to go with the curry instead of that light stuff.
LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2009 February 20
I ground up some Spelt into flour and this came out of the oven.

The Spelt flour was so nice and fluffy it is hard to believe.  I weighed a cup of this fluffy flour and it was only 98 grams.  No crumb shot yet as it is cooling down.
Craig 2009 February 22

Just lost a message, I'm sorry. Anyway, my latest spelt loaf was 500g wholemeal spelt, 100g levain (stoneground rye), 335g water and 8g salt. This had a rest after mixing, knead in the salt, rest and then another couple minutes easy knead, bulked about 4 hrs, shaped and into fridge for about 4 hours and then out for a couple before baking. The crumb was tight but I thought okay and the great spelt flavour came through. It still needs some attention. There was minimal oven spring. Fun to learn.

If someone could tell me how to insert photos, I'll try and include one.


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2009 February 23
I think I slashed the dough a little bit to deep and this let it spread out so much.  The formula is from the book "Local Breads".  The starter is a 100% Spelt starter at 133% hydration.
Hydration is 55%Salt is 2%Honey is 10%Preferment is 10%
I didn't like the results of the book's cooking time or temperature so next time I would turn the temperature up to 460°F and check the bread at 30 to 35 minutes.  The above bread was cooked for an extra 20 minutes just to get it brown.  
The spelt bread has a nice taste to it.  The bread reminds me of the flavor of the flakes in Raisin Bran cereal.  There are some nice holes in the bread as you can see but the crumb is more fragile than wheat.
LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 February 22

 I'm back to making Spelt bread again.  I think I was a bit afraid to let it proof as long as I would have liked to because it is Spelt.  Next time I'll let it go a little bit longer.  

When I get a crumb shot I'll write up the formula.

joe 2010 October 9

 Spelt flour is freely available in South Australia.  I buy it in 25kg bags of organic flour.   I have made one fully spelt flour starter and following the recipe here for bagels I made all spelt bagels.  They were brilliant!  its a terrific flour that never gives my husband any indigestion - any most flours do.  its very easily digested.  I sometimes add linseed, sunflowers, and ground almonds to the bread too.  Extra yummy.

ben-Nabiy's picture
ben-Nabiy 2011 February 9

One thing I have found with spelt, in particular, is that most people have never experienced "good" spelt flour. A high quality spelt flour can handle just as much hydration as a strong whole wheat, if not more, but just cannot be worked as much. The general rule I have found is about 2/3 to 3/4 the mixing time, and even to do a full mix on first speed ( a little more time mixing ).


I will include some pictures later of my sourdough spelt loaves, made with our home grown spelt. (Starter converted from a 100% hyd. wholewheat starter).



dave 2012 March 8

Here's mine from today, 100% spelt wholemeal, 100% spelt wholemeal starter, water, salt.


Millciti's picture
Millciti 2012 March 14

TP was always a great neutral starter for the Bakeoffs.  Of course anyone that has been active on the site should be able to get one started.  If you decide to do a new one Maedi may need to set up a special site - so we can post pictures.  I saw some notifications a while back about only the author being able to post.  However I can see Dave's pictures okay.   But this is an older Forum.

I actually stopped by here to see if she was around - I'll have to give her a nudge!!







TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2012 March 15

Terri found me, :P But, I knew I had to come back soon. Missed you guys too much. I've been busy, adding oil-painting, chinese brush painting, and 3 or 100 other handicrafts to my list of passions. And, my family has just moved up north to Penang, the nicest place in Malaysia, I daresay. A very cosmopolitan but rustic place at the same time, I mix with americans, british, koreans, dutch and germans on a daily basis, more than locals. My german neighbour was so delighted (and that's an understatement) when I gave her some sourdough bread, because, for all the 6 yrs she had been on the island, she and her friends couldn't find breads like these. I'm now baking SD breads once a week, and, spreading the 'love', finding fans each time I pass on some of my breads. Your vibes are very strong, because, each week, as I was playing with different breads, it seemed just like our bake-offs, except, I didn't have any sourdough companions. I miss that. I'm game!! What should we bake?


Hugs to all!

Must do some serious catch-up on post-reading.

Millciti's picture
Millciti 2012 March 15

Amazing that the world has gotten smaller - only moments to travel from Ohio to Malaysia and back to California!  I gave TP the SDC and FB nudge... And of course sending her a cool food site always works well!  Not sure which direction to go in, with a bake off that is why we called... Think it over and give Maedi a shout he may have an Idea!  I've been doing a new method for me... bake the same type of bread until you get it right. or your hubby says Whoa!  So I'm up to trying anything really!



TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2012 March 15

You didn't, by any chance, read 52 Loaves by William Alexander, did you, Terri? I just finished reading it yesterday. This guy almost baked the same bread every Sunday for one whole year, to get the perfect peasant bread. Hilarious read, and, I can't help thinking, "Been there, did that!" quite a bit. If I were in the right climate and had the land, I'd go as far as growing my own wheat like he did. Sniff, by the way, I had to leave my WFO behind. Should have made a portable one!


Thanks for the warm welcome (home), LD and Terri! Go bake that rye loaf now....

Millciti's picture
Millciti 2012 March 16

My hubby would have Woahhed a long time before that.   Except for one type of loaf.  A loaf that is light yet tender,  flavorful and chewy, a delectable lovely golden Sourdough loaf.  When my baking goes in that direction.  He cannot leave those loaves alone, finishing every crumb...  Therefore most of my breads contain some, if not more than one type of whole grain...  I like my Husband just the way he is!!!!

Check this out - http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126453433 - I haven't read William Alexander's book, but this NPR interview gives you a feel for what he was trying to accomplish.




Maedi's picture
Maedi 2012 March 16

Just to let you guys know that one-click photo uploading in Forum comments is on the cards, but may not be ready in time for the latest Rye Sourdough bake-off.

However instant photo uploads are enabled for Recipe comments. I give you permission and encouragement to use a Recipe as the basis for the Bake-Off if desired/suitable, maybe the first recipe could be a 'template' for others to follow.

Or just message me if you need help embedding photos in the comments. Good luck and great seeing you TeckPoh.

TeckPoh's picture
TeckPoh 2012 March 16

Thanks, Maedi. I must be living in FB too long, I was looking for a place to 'Like' your post :)


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