Spelt Sourdough

Now that I’ve started to get into a comfortable rhythm of selling bread at work each Monday, my standard recipe is becoming very smooth and well practised. So, to mix things up a bit and keep them interesting, I have been using our own bread as an experiment.


The finished loaf, coated in rye flakes
This week, I decided that following on from the high hydration sunflower and pumpkin seed loaf, I would push the hydration even further and try spelt flour again. I have made spelt sourdough before, but never with a dough this wet – 80% hydration.

Initially, the dough was very slack- a result of both the high hydration and the different quality of spelt. On the second day, whilst shaping, the dough did hold briefly but quickly spread out. When it came out of the banneton, it practically poured out, resulting in a fold in the dough that trapped some flour inside. Ultimately, however, the dough sprang up fantastically in the oven, and came out beautifully.

Excellent oven spring, despite the accidental dough-folding

Spelt sourdough – makes one loaf

  • 500g organic spelt flour
  • 400g water
  • 45g starter 
  • 10g salt
  • spelt or rye flakes to coat
  1. Mix together all of the ingredients. Autolyse for 15 minutes. Do a stretch/fold, rest for 15 minutes, and repeat. Repeat this process until you have kneaded 5 times.
  2. Oil a bowl and shape the dough into a rough ball. Roll the dough around in the oil, and bulk ferment overnight at room temperature in the bowl, covered with cling film. 
  3. In the morning, tip the dough out onto the bench and shape. Take a third of the dough, stretch it and fold it into the middle, and then rotate 90 degrees. Repeat this four times (for pictures, see this previous post). Using two cupped hands, turn the dough and shape into a ball. Rest for 15 minutes, then repeat the ball shaping.
  4. Mist the dough with water if it is a little dry, and roll in the spelt flakes. Place into floured bannetons and proof for 3-4 hours until risen.
  5. Preheat oven to 230C with a Dutch oven on the middle shelf. Turn out the dough onto a floured peel, score, and bake on the Dutch oven for 15 minutes with the lid on, 15 minutes lid off.
  6. Cool on a wire rack for one hour before slicing.

Light spelt sandwich loaf

I’ve been fairly slack in the bread making department lately. Every now and again I seem to reach a point where there are enough odd scraps of bread in the freezer to keep me going for a couple of weeks; however, I just reached the end of that time and found myself in need of a quick and easy loaf that could be put together in a few hours – sourdough this is not.

Combining wholemeal spelt with strong white bread flour both lightens the texture and makes the dough easier to work, and the little bit of sugar in the recipe gives the yeast an extra boost. There are other ways to speed the process – increase the temperature of the dough or the room, for example – but I don’t really like to sacrifice too much flavour for time.

This time around there wasn’t as much oven spring as I would have liked, so the dough did not rise as much as usual. I later found out that my suffering old oven has started to pack in… More on that in a later post.

Teaspoon measurements refer to Australian sizes.


Light spelt sourdough makes one loaf
110g strong white flour
225g wholemeal spelt flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp yeast
12g butter, melted
225g lukewarm water

1. Combine all of the ingredients and mix to combine
2. Knead on a clean surface for 10-15 min, until the dough is smooth and elastic
3. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with cling film, and rest for 2 hours or until doubled in size
4. Tip dough out onto a clean surface. Shape into a rectangle and then roll up, sealing the seam tightly. Place into a greased 900g loaf tin and cover loosely with cling film
5. Proof for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until the loaf has risen about 2cm above the lip of the tin. Preheat oven to 230C.
6. Bake for 15 min, then reduce the temperature to 200C and bake for a further 15-20 min, until the loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom
7. Cool on a wire rack



Wholemeal spelt sourdough

This sourdough uses a method from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice to increase the fermentation time, resulting in a more complex flavour and a well developed crumb. The method involves using cold water and an overnight fermentation, and I have added an extra proofing stage to help with the irregular, aerated crumb.
I shaped this batch of dough into 6 rough baguettes, two of which I cut into “épi” or “wheat” shaped loaves. This amount could be made into two free form loaves or three small tin loaves.


Wholemeal Spelt Sourdough
200g rye starter at 100% hydration
500g cold water
600g wholemeal spelt flour
20g salt

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Rest for 20 min, then stretch and fold for 5 min.
2. Rest for 30 min, then stretch and fold a dozen times. Repeat this step twice more.
3. Refrigerate the dough in a bowl, covered in cling film, overnight.
4. Remove the dough from the fridge and rest at room temperature for two hours.
5. Divide the dough into 6 portions. Rest for 5 min, then stretch the dough out into rough baguette shapes. The dough is quite wet and slack, so either flour or water your hands and the work surface. Place each baguette onto baking paper on a baking tray.
6. Preheat oven to max. Proof loaves for one and a half hours. Slash baguettes just prior to baking.
7. If making épi, cut into the dough with a pair of scissors almost parallel to the surface of the dough. Swing the cut piece away from the dough but be careful not to cut all the way through. Repeat the cut, moving along the baguette, in roughly 8cm gaps.
8. Bake for 10 min, check and reduce temperature of necessary. Bake for a further 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.