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.

RedBeard Bakery – Trentham, VIC

Daylesford, Victoria, is known for its food, wine, and relaxing mineral springs. We visit once or twice a year and always enjoy the atmosphere and the opportunity to visit places like The Lakehouse and the Hepburn Spa. The last couple of times, we have also travelled about 20km from Daylesford to the town of Trentham, to visit the historic RedBeard bakery.

The unassuming entrance to the bakery belies the historical interior.

There has been a bakery on the site since the late 1800s, and the most recent incarnation, the RedBeard bakery, makes excellent use of the renovated Scotch oven to produce delicious, organic sourdough. According to RedBeard’s website, the Scotch oven was once the most common form of commercial oven in Australia, but most were destroyed in the 1950s by large flour millers to undermine competition. The bakery offers tours and sourdough baking workshops, showcasing both the oven and the skills of the bakers.

A Scotch oven stores heat wonderfully well in its massive masonry structure. The fire is extinguished before baking commences and the bread is bathed in deep and even heat that is gradually released by the bricks and sand. – RedBeardBakery.com.au

When we visited, we were also happily there in time for lunch. Whilst sourdough is the mainstay of the bakery, it certainly isn’t all they offer. We had a reuben sandwich, and a baked potato with chickpeas, both of which were delicious. The bakery also produces biscuits, cakes, preserves, and even baking supplies (I picked up a new dough scraper, which I’ll be making use of this weekend when we get back home).

The atmosphere inside the bakery/cafe is great – products for sale in the background include recipe books and baking supplies.

We also couldn’t leave without buying a loaf of the famous sourdough. We chose a wholemeal and seeded loaf – called the ‘brunette’ – from the selection of rye, white, and wholemeal sourdough on offer. The loaf was just as delicious as the lunch – a soft and chewy crumb with a mild wholegrain flavour, and a nutty crust covered with toasted sesame seeds. It was fantastic toasted, and equally great fresh as a sandwich.

RedBeard Bakery’s ‘Brunette’ sourdough loaf.

Whilst Daylesford has its own bakeries, it’s worth the extra short drive to get out to Trentham and enjoy what the RedBeard bakery has to offer: a unique historical experience, friendly staff, great award winning food, and an opportunity to eat bread from one of the oldest ovens in the country.

Some of the sourdough on offer at RedBeard bakery.