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.

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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.

 

567 thoughts on “Whole Spelt Sourdough

  1. John of Oregon

    How are people checking hydration levels of their dough. Are they using a cool gadget ???

  2. Shu

    Does this make a slightly sour sourdough or a very sour one? My mother doesn’t like the tanginess in sourdough bread (i love it though!) and i would like to make it more palatable to her..

    Also I have seen recipes which call for the addition of butter/oil or eggs to bread recipes. What does this accomplish? Is this what gives some bread that heavenly buttery flavour?

  3. Minisquid

    Hi,

    I was wondering how convert a white flour starter to a spelt starter. Is the water to water ratio the same? After removing a cup of starter I fed my white flour starter 134 grams of water and 134 grams of splet flour. I did this for 3 feedings and got nothing that looked like what was shown in your video (in terms of the spelt starter). My starter is normally pretty active but once the spelt feedings started it seemed as if it became to watery.

    Anyway I hope that made sense?

    Thanks in advance!
    Ned

  4. Dean

    Hi Stephanie:

    Do you have a light coating of flour on your dough? I find that helps prevent burning in the cast iron dutch oven. Also, I leave the top on w/temp at 450 for the first 3rd of the bake time, then remove the lid and lower to 400 for the last 2/3.

  5. Stephanie W

    Hi Eric,
    I had great success with the pineapple juice starter made with whole grain spelt flour, it looks and works great!
    I used the stretch and fold technique – the bread came out great except for a burnt bottom. I baked the bread in a dutch oven, the oven was set at 450. How can I prevent the burnt bottom? My next 2 challenges are to convert this recipe to my Breadmachine so I can make it on a regular basis… is it better to do a long rise over night with sourdough? I will use my machine for the raising/stir down and baking times… it can bake a 2 pound loaf. I can program 1/2 or 3 rises at whatever times I want and I was wondering what rising times you would suggest?
    Thank you!
    Stephanie

  6. Hi Helen,

    You can use instant yeast instead of sourdough starter. I’d have to experiment to know the necessary adjustments, but I’d start out with a tsp of SAF yeast and maybe add a Tbs or so of water to compensate for the missing starter hydration. I would still overnight proof it but instant yeast does work faster so I’d keep an eye on that until I got to know the timing.

  7. caroline

    Hi, i made this bread on Sunday and it was sooo delicious. I received my dough whisk today and i can’t believe how easy it is when it comes to mixing dough. I was delighted to see how fast it arrived here in the UK. Thank you so much and please keep the videos coming.

  8. Helen Rainey

    Regarding the Spelt no-knead sourdough bread recipe:

    Is there anyway to adapt this recipe to using the saf instant yeast (as opposed to the sourdough starter)? If yes, how much yeast? And if so, does one let it rise overnight or does the yeast work much quicker than the starter? Thank you.

  9. Cathie

    Hi Cara,

    This may not win me many points with the Breadtopia crowd as it is not a no-knead method; however, after MUCH trying I have consistently made awesome sourdough spelt bread by adapting this recipe. We live at 6,000 feet in the high desert and my bread was also quite dense. So, here’s what I did (took me a year to figure out):

    In my bread machine (for mixing only, because it is soooo sticky):

    1/2 c. fairly thick starter mixed with 2 cups room temp water and 2 oz. of milk (any kind)
    3 3/4 c flour
    1 1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp instant yeast (seems to be necessary at this altitude)
    No oil or sweetener

    -Let mix on “knead” cycle for 10 minutes, until the dough starts to come away from the sides and develops some gluten (20 minutes if you are using whole wheat flour). You can’t over mix spelt or the gluten strands will fall apart. The dough will be quite wet. Transfer to a ceramic bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour. (I suppose you could do this step with a dough hook, but the time might vary).
    -In the same bowl, gently fold the dough from the circumference to middle with an oil-sprayed plastic spatula going round in 8 equal parts from the outside to the center. This is a modified stretch and fold method which I do on the front end and not prior to proofing. Cover and let sit another hour and repeat the process. Then cover and let sit 12-14 hours. If it is cool out you might be able to get by with 16-18 hours.
    -Generously flour your surface and gently pour out dough, being careful not to pop any bubbles! The dough will spread and seem very wet – this is okay. Sprinkle the top with flour.
    -With a long metal dough scraper gently scoop one side into the center and then do the same for the other side; creating a tri-fold. The dough should have enough body to be able to be lifted without drooping over. If it does droop then you need to add a little more flour next time.
    -Carefully lift and place seam side down onto the back side of a parchment lined cookie sheet, cover and let proof for about and hour (no basket needed).
    -Preheat oven and pizza stone to 450 degrees.
    -Spray surface of dough with a mist of water.
    -Gently transfer dough on parchment paper to the pizza stone.
    -Spritz 2 times in the first 5 minutes.
    -Cook until about 200-205 degrees internally – about 45 minutes (can vary by time of year and humidity).
    -Let cool a full hour before cutting (any sooner makes the bread more dense).

    This looks more like ciabatta bread, but my friends all rave about it. It has a perfect chewy crust and center with plenty of air holes. I wish I had a picture, but I don’t know how to upload. It sounds like a lot of steps, but it takes hardly any time at all (my 13 year old son can do it quite easily). I know this barely sounds like the same recipe (sorry Eric), but after persistent effort this is what I have found works the best in the dry high desert. Let me know what you think! – C

  10. Savraj

    Cara,
    It’s really important to use a scale to weigh measurements rather than use ‘cups’. If you use a scale, you’ll find that the dough is quite wet. The first time I made the bread, I used cup measurements (I did not have the scale yet), and it came out quite dry. The second time, it was perfect – just like in Eric’s video.

  11. cara

    My second loaf turned out as delicious as the first, but still very DENSE. Almost like a large hockey puck! HELP! Also note the cracking in the picture. Why???

    It doesn’t seem like it is rising much. Would anyone suggest more starter, more pulling or kneading??? Also, the dough with the measurements using cups (vs. weight) is pretty dry, and I hardly have to mix it to get all the ingredients wet and combined. I need to a tablespoon or more water to get it all wet. I’m using the sourdough starter from Breadtopia which I’ve been feeding and it still shows plenty of life, bubbles, etc.

    Then I pull a little, let it rest for 15, and two or so more pulls, leaving it overnight at room temp (65 degrees appx.) to “proof”. Should I knead or mess with it more?

    I’m at a loss. Could it be the altitude? We all love the flavor but boy, DENSE!!!

    [img]1_bread2.jpg[/img][img]2_bread2.jpg[/img][img]3_bread2.jpg[/img]

  12. Hi Isabel,

    You can use other types of flour to get the starter going but with wholemeal flours it’s often more difficult to see when the starter is ready. If you can, I suggest starting with regular white flour and after it’s activated, switch to feeding it wholemeal spelt. After a few feedings, you’ll have your desired starter.

    With all whole grain breads, it’s probably going to take significantly more than 1/4 tsp of yeast to give it a decent rise. I’d start with 1 full teaspoon and see how that goes.

    This is the first I’ve heard of an off-putting smell associated with the proofing baskets so I don’t know what to suggest. Since you’d typically flour it well before putting dough in it, it’s hard to imagine any smell would transfer to the dough or especially carry through the baking of it. If the offensive smell continues, contact our customer service department (me) by email or phone.

  13. isabel

    I have finally received your sourdough starter in the mail y’day and can’t wait to start baking. Also bought some sprouted spelt flour – sprouting seems to eliminate allergy issues for 99% of the population or so I was told and so I’m ready to try. But first have to start the starter. Can I use wholemeal spelt to activate it or must it be wheat flour as written in the instructions? Instead of waiting for the starter to be ready, would it be alright to use 1/4 tsp yeast instead for my first loaf or what would the correct amount be ? Another thing: also got my proofing basket but the smell of it is quite off-putting. Is that normal? I placed it in the sun all day today to air it but no improvement. Any advise? thanks so much for this marvelous blog!!

  14. Simon

    I have baked your bread several times now. It has quickly become my favorite bread. Now I have to try your rye bread. The last time I ran out of honey so I substituted barley malt molasses which I think gave a slightly more nutty flavor.

  15. Savraj

    Hi Eric,
    We love this bread recipe! It came out so delicious!
    Thanks a whole bunch for posting whole spelt flour recipe. I also appreciate the measurements of ingredients in weight rather than # of cups. It works out so much better.

    Do you have any other whole spelt flour recipes? There are so many people with wheat intolerances – but who can tolerate spelt. So I really hope you can post more videos with spelt flour, or kamut.

    Thanks a bunch!
    PS: Your videos are awesome!

  16. Hi Cara,

    Nice loaf. And definitely not an easy first one to do.

    The best test for doneness is when an inserted instant read thermometer reads about 200 degrees. Normally 57 total minutes at 450 would be more than enough.

  17. cara

    My first loaf of bread–EVER! It turned out beautifully if a little undercooked. Should I do longer time in oven, higher temp, or both?
    I cooked it in a ceramic almost tagine style crock, lid on entire time 45 min. @ 450; then 12 min @ 480. It is delicious and dense/

    [img]sourdoughspelt1.jpg[/img]

  18. deb

    Hi, I have no proofing basket either. I just spray my glass bread pan with olive oil, put the dough directly in it, let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 hours on the counter top in a plastic bag, and then place the pan (uncovered) in a preheated oven to cook. Turns out beautifully!! We love this bread!

  19. Marianne

    Hi Cara,

    I’ve used a parchment paper-lined mixing bowl as a substitute proofing basket. Works well!

  20. cara

    I’m finally making this bread! What do I do if I have NO proofing basket????

  21. Hi Deb,

    Yes, I have used it for pizza crust. As you can imagine, it’s heavier than a white flour pizza crust but very good. I think the key to using this for pizza crust is to roll it as thin as possible, don’t use a lot of toppings and bake it as hot as you can get your oven.

  22. deb

    Hi…just wondering if you have tried this recipe and method for pizza dough. If so, how did it work, and if not, how do you think it would work? Thanks for your response and for this website (it’s wonderful!!!!!!!!!!).

    Deb

  23. Lior

    This is the best bread-baking lesson i ever had, thanks! The bread came out really well and the water-flower ratio was perfect. With regard to that, I would like to ask you the following – if i would like to get the same consistency and moistness with rye flower, how much water should i use for the 530 grams of flower?

  24. Archer Yates

    I am having issues of getting the dough too wet. I think it might be that id did not fit the plastic bag loosely so the dough could lose water as I left it in the refridgerator. I left it for 2 days and the let it proof for 5 hours before baking. I baked it for 30 minutes at 450.interenal temperature was 205 degrees.

    [img]IMG_1286.jpg[/img][img]1_IMG_1286.jpg[/img]

  25. Gerard

    I haven’t used proofing baskets before. I see their utility, but when I look at how they’re used on the videos on this site, I immediately think that after a few uses these baskets must be great breeding grounds for bacteria in the cracks between the coils—flour, sticky dough, and in some cases sprayed with oil, as is shown on one of the movies. Yuk! So my question to devotees of this method is, how do you clean them, and is this a problem with the baskets?

    Thanks.

  26. Rumi

    Great Video, I will try to make the whole spelt bread. Can I make the sourdough starter from scratch with whole spelt flour?
    Thanks.
    Rumi

    • Hi Rumi,

      Sure, you can make whole spelt starter. It might be a little easier to get the starter going using regular white all purpose wheat flour and then once it’s going, just feed it spelt flour a few times and you’ll have spelt starter. It’s only easier because white flour starter will rise easier and so it’s easier to tell when it’s going strong.

  27. Archer Yates

    I made the whole Spelt bread but “modified the recipe”, I decreased the water from 350 g to 300 g with 530 g of flour- I have access to local whole grain spelt . I got a hydration of %56.6 by reducing water to 300 g.. I did 3 stretch and folds- 30 minutes apart and place in a covered plastic bag in my refrigerator for 2 days. I took it out and let it “proof for 5 hours and baked at 450 degrees for 30 minutes covered. Internal temperature was 205 degrees. The crust was a bit too done. I think at 425 degrees would be better. The crumb had lots of holes. The nutty taste is unusual .If I can get the crust right and the hydration right this will become my favorite bread.
    Comments or suggestions?

  28. Wil

    Bety,

    A very nice loaf indeed, thank you for sharing with us.
    Wil

  29. Bety

    Hi I can not english …
    my bread from Czech Republic

    [img]okatýchleba.JPG[/img]

  30. Dean

    Just wondering – what would be the difference if one omitted the three stretch-and-folds at the beginning? Thanks!

  31. Rony

    What will change if I transfer the dough to the Dutch Oven before heating it, and both enter the oven while it is still cold?
    This means the dough will start rising inside the Dutch Oven while it and the oven get heated.
    I am looking for a way to have a crust which is not so hard.

  32. cara

    Nevermind making my own starter, I just ordered yours. Very excited to try your recipe in the La Chambra.

  33. cara

    I”ll let you know how it turns out. Now first things first, I’m starting my starter!

  34. cara

    How do you think a black Chambra clay pot would work with your technique? Here is a description:

    “The dinnerware is not glazed but burnished. After each piece is made it is coated with a fine red clay. The red clay is then rubbed with natural stones. After firing the red hot pieces are covered with rice husks and smoked. This part of the process is what changes the color from red to black. Small imperfections in the finish and flecks of minerals (mica) in the clay are due to the handmade process. The mica gives the cookware the ability to heat evenly and not crack under temperature changes.”

    Loved your video and am inspired to try this!

    • Hi Cara,

      I think it would work great. I visited the La Chambra website – they look like awesome products.

  35. Lovely Day

    Well the 2nd time is the charm! I think adjusting my oven temp did the job. Looks pretty with added seeds and taste great!

    [img]SourdoughSpeltSeeded3.JPG[/img]

  36. Archer Yates

    My disaster- perhaps due to over proofing and also due to a wet dough- 66.6% hydration in the recipe 530 g of spelt-350 g of water.
    The crumb looked right. The baking time was 30 minutes at 450 with top on and 10 minutes with top off. The crust was thin and very crisp.
    The main complaint is the dough was so wet it could not hold its shape, the round loaf looked more like a cow pie and the oblong was devoid of any real shape.In no way did it look like the above photos. I am going to try another run and will advise. I do plan to reduce the water from 350 to 325 g. Also, I had a delay and placed my dough in my unheated workshop at 50 degrees and it looked like there had been a bit of dough collapse in the pan.

  37. Archer Yates

    I mixed the dough last night. It was too wet to really do a stretch and fold. So I just fooled it over using a plastic dough scraper.
    I proofed it in out kitchen usually about 70 degrees. I had some unexpected errands so. This morning I moved it to my unheated workshop 50 degrees until 4:00 pm.
    I could see where it collapsed by looking at the line in the pan. It is a wet gooey mess. I put it in the proofing basket lined with parchment paper.
    I will give it about 2 hours for the dough to straighten out.
    It is a double batch so I just did not have the heart to throw it out. On my next attempt I plan to use 318 g of water with 530 grains of spelt whole grain flower for an estimated 60% hydration. I will give a followup comment if this stuff is edible.

  38. Rony

    Thanks for answering so quickly.
    I will try lowering the hydration to 60%.
    In addition I will lower those 2 times or use the same times but put the
    dough in the fridge.
    I live in Israel and we get our spelt flour from Canada.

  39. Hi Rony,

    Probably just adding more flour at the beginning to stiffen the dough a bit more next time will help a lot.

    Collapsing dough is usually an indication of over proofing which makes me wonder what is the temperature of the room where the dough is rising. If you can find a cooler place, proof it there. Otherwise just shorten the first (long) rising period by a couple hours and maybe the final rise by a bit too.

    Are you in another country (judging from your email address)? Different flours can perform differently but the above suggestions should help.

  40. Rony

    Thanks for the wonderful tutorial.
    I am following it as accurate as I can but the moment I transfer the dough to the clay baker it collapses as if it was porridge.
    The final result is very tasty but flat and sometimes difficult to take out of the baker when done.
    What am I doing wrong?
    Thanks

  41. Ed

    Hi Jim, I forgot to address your equipment questions – you can get everything you need, except the flour, right here in the Breadtopia store. Good prices, reasonable shipping & you’ll be supporting the site too.
    You didn’t ask for suggestions on what you should have on hand and you may already have a lot of this stuff. If so, please forgive the unsolicited input, being a no knead enthusiast, I can’t resist.
    oblong Lacloche
    oblong proofing basket
    instant read thermometer
    two oven gloves (no mits)
    kitchen scale
    instant yeast
    Dr. Oeter scraper
    stainless steel scraper
    instant read thermometer
    Danish dough whisk (large)
    dry sour dough starter.
    I’ve suggested the oblong shape because I find it’s the most practical. The bread is easier to handle & slice. A round loaf is prettier – you choose. Of course being a NK and over-all gadget junkie, I have them both. Have fun.

  42. Ed

    Jim,
    I don’t know Palm Springs but try looking up or googling organic foods or health foods and give them a call. Around here (Seattle) that’s where I found spelt flour. Good Luck

  43. jim oldenburg

    now that you have me excited to try spelt bread, where do I find it. I live in Banning, Ca(very near Palm Springs) and no one has it. Matter of fact most have not even heard of it. Also, could you suggest any stores that carry like the proofing basket and clay bakers.

    Many thanks

  44. John G

    Hi,

    The Breadtopia videos inspired me to try baking NK sourdough.
    My last loaf turned out just as if I bought it at a bakery! It looked
    beautiful and tasted wonderful. That being said, I’d say it took me
    a good four loaves to get my oven calibrated, because it was too
    fast. My first loaf in fact came out dark brown after only 35
    minutes! I eventually bought an oven thermometer, and got the
    baking time to about match the 45 minutes in the recipes.

    Yesterday, I tried my first whole spelt flour sourdough bread.
    I baked it for forty minutes in the Ropemtopf, covered, and
    then a few minutes more uncovered. It tasted wonderful,
    although my wife felt it was a bit “too heavy.” To me the
    crumb was fine, so that may be personal preference. One
    thing that surprised me is that unlike my NK sourdough
    bread, the spelt had hardly any taste or aroma of sourness
    I used my regular starter; perhaps its sourness was
    countered by the recipe’s 3T of honey.

    John

    [img]P1010034.JPG[/img]

  45. Ed

    Checking your oven temperature: I once had a technician in because I thought my oven was running hot. He checked with his instruments and found it to be “within manufacturer’s tolerances”, or something like that. Not much help. However, he did suggest that a better way to check is to bake some of those Pillsbury rolls that come in a tube following the printed directions exactly. Too dark, you’re running hot – too light, too cool. The logic, of course, is that they produce their dough under very controlled conditions and have tested baking them hundreds of times to get it just right.

    Actually, as Eric pointed out, the problem is more likely to be too much time in the oven. Test it with an instant read thermometer (the RT600 that Breadtopia sells is excellent) earlier and leave the lid on for the entire time – I think Eric talks about this in a post subsequent to the video. No need to remove the lid for final browning becasue this loaf, unlike the basic no knead breads, contains sugar which speeds up the browning process.
    Have fun. Ed

  46. Lovely Day

    I am thinking my oven might be going out. And I used my thermometer but I think I should hold the thermometer in longer to get a more accurate reading. Thanks I may try it again tomorrow. Let you know.

  47. I’m wondering if you need to leave it in as long as you did. Do you check it with your thermometer to see what the dough temp was when you took it out? Otherwise, I’d just lower the oven temp. Maybe try 400 next time. I’m also wondering if your oven is running hot? I try to get my bread looking like yours but I have my oven set to 490+ to get there.

  48. Lovely Day

    This is my first time to use my La Cloche. I really do love it. The bread taste great. My one disappointment is the crust and the sides of the bread seem a little dark. Too crusty. My oven cooked at about 425. Do you have any suggestions?

    [img]SourdoughSpelt3.JPG[/img][img]SourdoughSpelt5.JPG[/img]

  49. Nancy Gedney

    P.S. I can’t hear your videos either.
    Nancy

  50. jmancan

    Hey Eric,

    I made this over the weekend but turned into a doorstop. I guess is my sourdough starter wasn’t as active as I thought. Maybe I should have followed an instant yeast version since my kids don’t enjoy the sour taste anyway. Is there a rule of thumb to covert a recipe w/ sourdough starter with instant yeast?

    JManCan

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