When you think of 100% whole grain spelt bread, what images come to mind? Bland 1970’s era health food? What people with dietary restrictions must resort to? Lots of hard and challenging work? A door stop?

Those were largely my impressions until I found this spelt bread recipe to be as delicious and easy to make as it is nutritious. So when the inspiration strikes to get virtuous with your eating habits without sacrificing sensory pleasure, give this one a whirl. You’ll enjoy that flaky, buttery croissant all the more when you rotate this spelt recipe through your bread baking line-up now and then.

A bit about spelt: Spelt is an ancient variety of wheat with its roots in the Fertile Crescent some 9000 years ago. It is more widely used in Europe where it’s known as dinkel in Germany and farro in Italy. While higher in protein than commonly used wheat varieties, the nature of its proteins results in less gluten formation when making bread dough. Spelt is renowned for its health benefits. Many people with wheat allergies or sensitivities can enjoy bread made with spelt flour. What really helped make a fan out of me, however, is the mellow nutty flavor that spelt delivers. Read more about the Wonders of Spelt.


The Ingredients:

530 grams (about 5 cups well fluffed up) whole spelt flour
350 grams (~1+1/2 cups) water
10 grams (1+1/2 tsp) salt
3 Tbs honey or sugar or 2 Tbs agave
1/4 cup sourdough starter
Follow the instructions in the video.

Bake at 450 for 45 minutes or until internal temp is 195-200.

Whole Grain Spelt

Spelt/Kamut Variation

Miscellaneous Notes: I’ve baked this bread several times since making the video and have found a few things you can vary in order to adapt the recipe to your time schedule.

Spacing the stretch and folds out by as little as 10-15 minute works just as well as the 30-60 minutes mentioned in the video. Three or four stretch and folds at 15 minute intervals seems pretty optimal.

Most of the time I mix up the dough in the evening, let it sit out overnight, and bake it the next morning. But I’ve also mixed up the dough in the morning and then immediately refrigerated the dough in a covered bowl until just before bed time. I then took it out to proof at room temperature until morning. This worked very well too.

You could probably also leave the dough in the fridge for up to a two or three days until you’re ready to bake. Since the dough continues to proof in the fridge (just very slowly), you’ll want to be careful not to let the dough sit out too long after removing from the fridge or it may over-proof. Since I haven’t tried this yet, you’ll have to take a good guess on the timing and let us know your experience.

Another relatively minor thing I’m doing differently now than when I shot the video, is I’m leaving the lid on the baker for the entire 45 minutes. I find the crust gets plenty brown and crusty this way.

Wheat Berries

Wheat Berries

Recipe Variations: There are, of course, endless ways to vary the recipe. A mix of spelt and kamut flour also produced an excellent loaf. Kamut is another ancient variety of wheat known for its nutritional value and naturally sweet and nutty flavor. The “official” kamut web site has some very interesting information.

Kamut flour has different moisture absorbtion properties than spelt, so if you’re playing around with different combinations of grains, you’ll also have to adjust the amount of water used. The following worked well:

300 grams spelt flour
230 grams kamut flour
360 grams water
Same as video for everything else.

August 2011 Update: Thanks Brent for this Spelt Bread Recipe variation and how to make it into sandwich loaves. Great picture too!

Feb 2012 Update: Check out Phil Dellinger’s post for Dutch Crunch topping.


591 thoughts on “Whole Spelt Sourdough

  1. Mary Harris

    Well, I have to say those are the best instructions I ever had to make bread. Some 30 years ago I used to make rye bread all the time from a starter, and in the meantime I had forgotten on how to do it. But it’s all coming back now. I just want to say thank you for your wonderful instructions. I wish I would have known about this when I lived in Iowa, a couple of miles down the street from you in Chariton. My daughter an me used to come to Fairfield for shows at the Performing Arts Center. I am glad I found your website, and I can’t wait to get my order so I can start making some serious bread.

  2. Margot

    I made my starter with sprouted spelt flour and made above recipe with100% sprouted spelt flour…the only adjustment I had to make was decrease flour to 470 grams as this flour absorbs more water. superb!

    • Very nice, Margot. Do you find that bread made with sprouted wheat flour proofs a bit fast and tastes somewhat sweeter than when made from normal flour? What did you bake this loaf in?

  3. Frances

    Could I substitute kamut for the spelt in this recipe? what adjustments would I need to make, if any??

    • You can, but I’m not sure what adjustments would need to be made without trying it.

  4. Lesia Rees

    my dough is drier than in the video. What happened?

    • Lesia Rees

      and it’s very heavy and wont pull. What can I do to salvage it?

  5. Anthony

    Has anyone tried using sprouted spelt flour for the awesome recipe ?

  6. Meg

    I have a small amount of local spelt flour I want to use. Does anyone know what impacts of using half spelt and half wheat?

    • Should be a nice outcome. Give it a try!

  7. Michael

    Dear Breadtopia,
    I used my Romertopf for the first time to day. But I had such a problem in removing the loaf, it stuck to the romertopf sides and bottom, and when I eventualy get it out, it left part of the bottom of the loaf stuck to the clay baker, which by the way is glazed.
    Would you please advise me how to overcome this problem.
    Thank you Michael.

    • Hi Michael,

      Here’s a copy of the email I sent you. Just posting here too in case anyone else is having this issue…

      Bringing the baker to full temperature before putting the dough in minimizes the chances of sticking. If you are preheating the baker and sticking is still an issue, you can sprinkle some flour in the bottom just before putting in the dough. If sticking is still a problem, line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper. This will work for sure.

      It’s always been a mystery to me why most people don’t have a problem with dough sticking and some do. But one piece of info that seems to be true is that sticking, for some reason, apparently becomes less over time. So maybe there is a kind of seasoning that takes place with use that helps.

  8. kathnell

    Eric–you did it again–thanks for the sourdough spelt receipe and video–Kathnell

  9. Anthony

    Has anyone used yeast instead of sourdough starter. I don’t have any now but would love to try with yeast. Would anyone know the amount of dry instant yeast for this recipe instead of sourdough starter? Thanks for any help .

    • Karen from Australia

      Yes Anthony – I just use a sachet of dry yeast (3 tsp). I add it at the same time you are supposed to add the starter. My bread rises faster but I think that is also due to the very high temps where I live (above 40 degrees Celicius). Just keep an eye on it.

    • Anthony

      Decided to give it a try with Instant Yeast being i had no sour Dough Starter. Trying to make some but on day 6 still not active. Was active little bubble on phase 1 into Phase 2 but nothing i think i lost it ? Have to try again. Anyway loaf looks good will let you know how it tastes after Christmas eve dinner .

      • Anthony

        Tried the bread it was Delicious. Thanks Eric for a keeper.

  10. Karen from Australia

    This is Seriously. Delicious. Bread. And also seriously easy to make! I have made three loaves and they turned out so amazing that I decided to make a fruit loaf version. I added cinnamon, ground cloves, sultanans, orange zest, psyllum husk and replaced the water with almond milk and orange juice. OMG super delicious!!! I also baked it in the loaf tin that I did the final proofing in and it worked great. Thank you so much for your recipe and video – I have a wheat intolerance and all other spelt bread I’ve made left me pining for wheat bread. But not this one – wheat shmeat. Thank you thank you thank you!

  11. Richard

    I have been making this bread for about a month. What I love about this recipe is that it’s so easy and quick to make. Super delicious as well. I’ve been using sprouted spelt which is more expensive, but feels right to use Have experimented with adding other things to it – 25% rye flour which makes it heavier, caraway seeds, coriander powder, rosemary – all are delicious. I haven’t graduated to a dedicated ceramic cooker yet, but plan on doing so soon.

    My one challenge seems to be getting the bread from the proofing basket into the dutch oven I use. Still working on that one.

    Thank you, Eric, for the great recipe and a great site. Home made bread is so superior.

  12. Hi
    We love your recipe
    Can You tell us what your room and fridge temp is?
    kind regards team GODny

    • I don’t know what the room temp was when I shot the video. It can vary a lot in our house. The fridge is typically right at 38F which is a bit over 3 celsius.

  13. I like the recipe and it seems to cook up fine. I do find the dough to soft to hold its shape and tends to flatten our or fill the container you put it in. It seems to expand outward and not upward which gives me more crust and less loaf.

  14. Ken.

    I saw you remove the Romertopf baker from your oven before placing your bread into it; I take this as you preheating the baking vessel prior to putting the dough into it. How long do you preheat the vessel?

    My wife and I have just gotten into baking with sourdough and started our first ‘starter’ from your video where you used the KAF and pineapple juice. We now have an AP starter and a WW starter. We have even given away a starter to my wife’s daughter.

    • Hi Ken,

      I typically preheat whichever baking vessel I’m using for 25 minutes. It might not need to be quite that long, but that’s the habit I’ve gotten into. I just pull the rack out, leaving the baker on the rack while I drop the dough in.

      I’m glad to hear you’re into using sourdough. I think it’s a great way to go.

  15. Alice

    I am brand new to sourdough and feel I have read SO much conflicting advice about such a simple thing! I have found your vids very helpful – you are going to be my go-to, ‘Baking Bible’ from now on.

    I am just wondering – I currently do not have a proving basket – can I prove directly in the clay pot I will be baking it in or am I asking for trouble? Thanks in advance for advice received!

    • Hi Alice,

      It can be done, but you will want to be careful about the dough sticking to the clay pot. If I were to try it, I would line the pot with parchment paper.

      • Alice

        Thanks for the advice – that’s exactly the conclusion I had come to on reading another of your posts (one from Margaret). I am much enjoying my sourdough journey and made my first doesn’t-look-too-much-like-a-brick loaf when following your recipe which was very tasty. If I were to add more starter in order to create a less sour taste, would I reduce the amount of flour accordingly? Thanks again for your help.

  16. Richard Frotten

    Hi, really enjoy your info…we are starting a bakery and wonder how to increase portions for single recipes to larger quantities. Is a ratio of ingredients available ?

    • Hi Richard,

      This and just about every other bread recipe is scaleable to whatever volume you need. Are you familiar with Baker’s Percentages? I haven’t converted this recipe to show baker’s percentages (although I should). Doing so would make it easier to calculate.

      Good luck with your bakery. If you haven’t joined BBGA (Bread Baker’s Guild of America), I highly recommend it. You’ll have access to advice from many successful and highly experienced professional bakers. Invaluable.

  17. Maggie

    First off, thank you for posting such wonderful, informative, and simple videos. There is so much overwhelmibg and conflicting information out there about sourdough starters and bread baking and you just make things beautifully simple and easy to follow.

    After numerous failed attempts at making a really good European-style sourdough bread, this recipe worked out amazingly well for me. I can’t tell you how grateful I am. The bread not only has a delicious flavor but the texture is so much better than any bread I have baked in the past (they were typically quite brick-like). The crust on this bread crackles like bread from a bakery and the inside is airy and not too dense. I couldn’t believe something so beautiful came out of MY oven! I sincerely thank you for posting a recipe for truly great bread and for recording the process it so there are no mysteries about how it’s supposed to be done.

    I do have one question I was hoping you could give me some guidance on. I do not (yet) own a clay baker and improvised by using two ceramic baking dishes instead. In one of the dishes I put the dough and the other i turned upside down and placed on top of the one with the dough in it in hopes that it would work like a baker. This method worked out ok except that the bottom and sides of the bread burned a bit. The top of the bread turned out fine. I left the bread in the oven for 40 minutes at 450 and the temperature came out to 195 per your video instructions, but i’m guessing maybe the ceramic doesn’t do as good a job at baking the bread evenly? If that’s the case, do you suggest I bake at a lower temperature to prevent burning or keep it at 450 and bake for a shorter duration? The long term solution will be to purchase a clay baker BUT since I just splurged on a new komo mill (which I purchased from you and love like a first-born child) I will need to hold off on buying any more baking paraphanelia for a while until my husband recovers from my komo purchase ;) I would greatly appreciTe any suggestions you may habe on how to prevent the burning issue with the ceramic baker.

    Thank you!

    • Dean

      Here’s how I avoid a burned bread bottom Maggie. At the very bottom of the oven, place a “diffuser,” something to prevent the heat from rising directly from the burners. I use a 14″ cast-iron pizza pan, but a cookie pan or whatever you have with a large surface area may work just as well.

      I discovered this by accident – one day I took the bread out of the oven and the bottom wasn’t burned at all (which it usually was). I couldn’t figure out why – until I realized I had inadvertently left the pizza pan in the oven after having made pizza the night before. Now that pizza pan never comes out of the oven.


      • Maggie

        Yay for happy accidents! Thanks for sharing it, I’ll definitely give that a try!

    • Tiffany

      I place mason jar rings on the bottom of my Dutch oven then a price of parchment paper and then my dough to prevent burning. It works like a charm!

      • Maggie

        Mason jar rings, very inventive! I love the parchment paper idea, that’ll help prevent sticking too. Thanks for the tips :)

  18. sarah

    I’ve been using this recipe for months now and absolutely loving the bread. But I must say, my loaves do not look that great – they are pretty flat. Here’s where I might be going wrong: 1) I am not scrupulous about measuring out 1/4 cup of starter – I usually use more than that. 2) I live in Switzerland so my spelt flour ,”farine d’epautre claire” is probably different . When I tried making it in the States with American spelt flour the dough was much drier. 3) I’m always bothered by the fact that on my scale there’s a big difference between 350 grams of water and a cup and a half. I usually split the difference.

    My big problem is that the dough is always so wet that I really can’t handle it even if I dust with a lot of flour. I tried one time to put it in a proofing basket and have never gotten the bits of dough out. I usually have to bake it without getting a nice gluten cloak on it. I guess as I write this, the answer would be to cut way back on the water till I get a dough that looks more like yours in the video!? P.S. in studying the bag of “farine d’epautre” I see a recipe that I should try. It calls for flour, water, salt, yeast and 20 gr of yogurt! Thank you for any advice on my sticky dough. Sarah

    • Dave

      I’ve found that the spelt flour I grind at home works perfectly at the recommended hydration level (530g/350g). I have bought spelt flour that required up to 410g of water to achieve the desired consistency. I’m not sure why. There could be variations in the spelt grain and also variations in the milling process. My suggestion is to experiment with using less water. I would try 20-30g less water and if that doesn’t work well reduce again by another 20-30g.


    • Dick Eastmure

      I have been making the spelt bread for a couple of years now and as Dave, I grind my own spelt. I have noticed the spelt berries do vary from one year to the next. I’m not sure if it is different farms or the type of summer. They do vary quite a bit in hydration levels. Sometimes by 30 grams or more. Right now I use 360gr spelt and 340 water with my present batch of berries. Flatness or ‘pan caking’ I find is mostly caused by over proofing. Adjust the water and try backing off on the proofing times would be my suggestions.

    • Cynthia

      I wet the counter and wet my hands when working with sourdough dough instead of using flour.

  19. Covered moist dough. 60 min. Later stretching moist dough with floured fingers is difficult. And further times also. Should my dough be dryer?

    • Dave

      What I do is just wet my hands before each of the stretch and folds. It works a lot better for me.

  20. I have been looking on your website to find a recipe sent in by Lori a few years ago which I can no longer find.
    It contained white vinegar, and malt it was retarded in the fridge overnight and baked the next day.
    It was a fantastic recipe which unfortunately I didn’t write down, is it still somewhere to be found in your archives?
    If Lori reads this email could she please repost it as I really want to make it again.
    Many thanks

  21. Jeremiah

    My first attempt at ancient grain Spelt. Great flavor but ran a little hot at 450. Ended up a little darker than desired at the bottom. Thanks for their recipe. I will be making this again.

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