Quick loaf, quick post- light wholemeal spelt

This quick post is at the end of a long, busy Saturday. As I knew that I would be spending a lot of this weekend in the garden (it’s autumn here, so plenty of pruning, composting and harvesting) and the kitchen (preserving those extra veggies) I decided to make a quick loaf.

Quick means dispensing with the sourdough starter for a change, and switching to instant yeast. I used a mix of white and wholemeal spelt and threw in a handful of barley bran and linseed for some extra flavour.

Quick spelt loaf makes one loaf

250g white spelt flour
150g wholemeal spelt flour
1tsp yeast
1tsp salt
2 tsp honey
75g barley bran
Handful linseed
275g water

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix.
2. Knead on a clean surface for 10 minutes.
3. Bulk ferment in an oiled bowl for 2 hours, until doubled.
4. Turn out onto a clean surface. Shape into a rectangle, roll, and press the seam together. Transfer to an oiled 900g loaf tin.
5. Proof for 1 hour.
6. Preheat oven to 230C. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200C and bake for a further 15-20 minutes.
7. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool for at least an hour before slicing.

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Barley and Bran Miche

This recipe was the first I created by myself, based on what I had learned from books such as Peter Rhiehart’s The bread baker’s apprentice, and the first book on sourdough I bought, Wild Sourdough by Yoke Mardewi.

It came about from a desire to explore different blends of flour and baking techniques, and to move away from some of the rigid recipe instructions I had been following and towards finding a method that would work for me.

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A barley and wheat bran sourdough, made with a rye flour starter

It remains my go-to bread, and there are usually a couple of slices lurking in the freezer. It is also a good use of my rye starter: I had been finding that my starter did not always give the best results, especially with some of the Rhinehart recipes which call for large amounts of ‘barm’ or wet starter. Once I started playing around with this recipe, however, I found that I was able to control the flavour and rise of the loaf with much less wasted starter.

There are a number of reasons that many sourdough recipes call for large amounts of starter, most of which is discarded. A large volume of starter loses heat more gradually, and is therefore more reliable and predictable. A starter with a high hydration (more water) will produce a loaf that is less ‘sour’, because of the lower amount of acetic acid produced, and some prefer this. In my experience, however, these high hydration starter recipes call for a lot of feeding and throwing away of excess starter, which seems wasteful. They are also often geared around commercial bakeries, and I don’t think that the home baker needs to be too concerned about the fine details all of the time.

So, for this bread at least I’ll stick to my stiff, recently fed starter. If I begin with a tablespoon of starter, feed it 2 nights before baking with 100g each of flour and water, and repeat 1 night before, then I find I end up with enough for this recipe plus enough to stir back into the jar in the fridge.

Barley and wheat bran miche makes one large miche or boule

  • 230g rye flour starter, fed at least 8 hours before with 100g flour and 100g water
  • 75g barley flour
  • 25g wheat bran
  • 400g strong white bread flour
  • 330g water
  • 10g salt
  1. Mix ingredients in a large bowl and rest (autolyse) for 20 minutes.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough is elastic, smooth and no longer sticky.
  3. Bulk ferment (first rise) the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with cling film, for 4-5 hours or until doubled.
  4. Tip out and shape into a boule. Proof in a well floured banneton or lightly oiled bowl for 2 hours, or until the dough is risen.
  5. Preheat oven to maximum with a pizza stone on the middle shelf (or an upturned baking tray). Tip the dough out onto a floured bread peel or upside down baking tray and slide into the oven onto the stone. Bake for 10 minutes at max then turn the oven down to 210°C and bake for 35 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  6. Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour.

It is also possible to retard the dough overnight in the fridge. After shaping, place into a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight. The following morning preheat the oven and bake straight from the fridge.