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. hi eric,
    just wanted to let you know i found your website this week…..jam packed awesome. i have never made bread at home w/ much success (yeasted), but i must tell you i tried the No Knead Spelt sourdough recipe today…and it worked!!!! i could not believe my eyes when i took it out of the oven ( i used a enamel dutch oven), i almost cried, lol. looked and tasted like an artisan bread you’d find in NYC. thanks so much for sharing this fabulous, healthy & nutricious recipe with us, your site ROCKS!!!! real sourdough bread made easy, unbelievable:)

  2. Hello,
    My name is Tina, I really liked the video. And want to make the spelt bread, but how do you start the sourdough starter for the spelt bread.

  3. Pete

    Hi Eric and Denyce,
    I really appreciate this site. I’m eager to try this spelt recipe. I’ve baked the sour dough rye several times, all with very nice results especially my latest loaf. I believe the fact that I unintentionally allowed my last loaf to proof nearly 16 hours may be the reason (I actually just posted something about this on the rye bread page). The reason i mention this is because you don’t get too exact on proofing time on the spelt bread, simply saying overnight. Do you find a certain number of hours is best?
    Regards,
    PeteW

  4. Hi Inna,

    Here’s a copy of the flyer we send out with each Romertopf. Hope it’s helpful…

    Romertopf Clay Baker Tips

    The instructions that comes with your Romertopf make a point of soaking it for 15 minutes prior to use for optimum benefits. If you do this, make sure you use it from a cold start. Bring the Romertopf and food inside to temperature along with the oven so it it’s not exposed to a sudden temperature change.

    While soaking is nice for most baking most dishes, it is optional for baking bread. In fact, we find the best bread results come from preheating a dry Romertopf and then gently placing the dough inside wearing protective gloves.

    If you do bake bread from a cold start, the dough will stick to the clay unless you coat the base with a non stick coating or use parchment paper. The dough will not stick if placed in a preheated Romertopf.

    The main thing to remember is to void exposing your Romertopf to sudden temperature changes. This is called thermal shock and can crack it. When removing the hot Romertopf from the oven after baking, place it on a stove top burner or cooling rack rather than directly on a cold countertop.

    Avoid spilling liquids on an already hot Romertopf. Don’t place very cold or frozen items on a hot Romertopf base. Never use a spray bottle to mist the bread while in the Romertopf. There is no need for this anyway. One of the main advantages of the Romertopf is it holds the steam from the baking bread in close proximity to the bread while baking to give it a naturally superior crust.

    If you are only using your Romertopf for baking bread, there is no need to wash it. The high baking temperatures will automatically bake off excess dough. Occasionally, you may have to gently scrape off some baked-on dough with a butter knife.

    We hope your Romertopf gives you many years of excellent service.

    Sincerely,

    Eric & Denyce Rusch
    Your Friends at Breadtopia

  5. Inna Lye

    Hi! I am new to your site and am very thankful for all the work you put into this website. I am learning a lot, thanks to the instructional videos! I am a visual learner and the videos are just what I need!
    The first loaf of sourdough using the NKM turned out good, though I baked it in the Dutch oven and it was a little dark on the outside.
    Could you give me some pointers on using a Romertopf? I just got a brand new one from someone but without the directions on how to use it. Do I have to soak it the very first time I use it? Do I have to soak it everytime before I preheat it in the over when I bake bread? I don’t want to ruin it.
    Thank you!

  6. Hi Linette,

    The bakers are nice but I definitely wouldn’t let that stop you. A stone is perfectly good. The no knead recipes come out a lot better in some kind of baking vessel. That’s a big part of baking with really wet doughs.

    As far as essential items, I’d say a thermometer, digital scale, dough scraper and bench knife are the most utilitarian.

  7. Linette

    I’m new to bread baking, and wondering if I can get similar results using a large pizza stone to baking any of your bread recipes without a clay baker. I do intend to invest in a clay baker from you, but wanted to start out with what I have. I’m making a list of essentials such as the danish dough whisk. What other essentials should I include in the beginning?

  8. Mo Cook

    Oh what a joy this method of making bread has proved to be! I think I may be becoming addicted…. The different way that the dough feels during the folding process is absolutely fascinating……

    I am only making half the amount in the recipe so finding a way to keep it in shape during baking has been “interesting” to say the least….. I also don’t have a clay baker so have been playing around with different methods….. But the results are always great.

    Today I made the bread using white spelt flour instead of the wholegrain….. It makes an even softer dough so had to incorporate additional flour during the fold and stretch process….. The taste is great though….

    How long would small rolls take to bake?

    Thank you sooooooo much for this site and this thoroughly enjoyable and addictive method of baking bread…..

    Mo

  9. Dean

    I’d say you’re way overproofing. You’d be surprised how warm it can get in an oven when you turn on the light. I tried it with a very sensitive thermometer recently and within a few hours the oven went up 12 degrees, to 81 degrees, while the kitchen remained at 69 degrees. 11 hours at 80 degrees or more is probably too much – enough to digest the gluten and turn your dough into soup. And there was more time between the time you mixed the dough and the time you finished with the stretch and folds.

    Try again at a lower temp or less time.

    Dean

  10. Melody

    Okay, I’m having some difficulties with this bread all of a sudden! When I pour it out after the overnight rise, it literally pours out, rather than dumps out! It’s almost like a very thick pancake batter, even though when I do the stretch and folds the night before, it is thicker and more doughy then. Does anybody have any idea what is going on? I proof it in my oven with the light on…do you think it’s too warm in there? I did a 11 hour proof from the last stretch and fold…should I consider the proofing time to be from when I first mixed the dough? In any case, it comes out way too dense when baked…and all my amounts are exactly as stated above. I wonder…do I not have enough flour? I think the first time I made it, I didn’t have a scale, so I fluffed up the flour and did volumetric measurements. Maybe I had more flour in there? Please help…I love the taste and texture of this bread when it’s made correctly, but I have no idea what I’m doing wrong here. Thanks!

  11. Melody

    Can I use instant yeast in this recipe? And if so, how much? I’d much rather use my starter (it’s sooo good) but sometimes I’m just not home enough to feed it and it gets too sour, so in the interim, I wouldn’t mind a yeast version…Thanks!

  12. Ed P

    Hi Messenie,
    If you’re starting in a cold oven, I don’t believe that a 30 minute preheat is long enough. I always preheat for at lest 30 minutes AFTER my oven has reached the desired temperature – probably 45 minutes total. I’ve baked hundreds of loaves in the clay bakers sold by Breadtopia and have never had one stick. Enjoy!

  13. Don’t use oil. It’ll smoke like crazy. Yes, sprinkle some flour in the base just before plopping the dough in. I sure hope that works as it’s what I’ve been suggesting to people. Please let us know what happens next!

  14. messenie

    hi – thanks for the response, yes I had the baker pre-heating with the oven for about 30 mins before I transferred the dough from proofing basket to baker… should I use oil or dust it a bit more with flour?

  15. Hi Messenie,

    Are you fully preheating your baker before putting in the dough?

  16. messenie

    Bread turned out great BUT, it stuck to my clay baker like crazy and it came out in two pieces at the bottom was glued to the baker! how can I avoid this?

  17. Miriam Schumacher

    Thank you for the awesome sourdough starter! I love making your spelt recipe.

  18. Ron

    Eric, what are your thoughts on adding Quinoa to the spelt?

    • Hi Ron. Sounds good to me. I like quinoa. Not sure how much would be good, so a little experimenting would be necessary.

  19. That’s gorgeous bread, Jo Ann. Your variations look great.

  20. Jo Ann

    Hi Eric, Just wanted to thank you for all of the great videos and recipes for no knead and sour dough bread. I have tried a lot of different recipes and had lots of failures. The first time I made your sour dough starter and made the 100 % spelt loaf it turner out great. I have changed the recipe as my husband likes rye and I like spelt, I used 170 gr, spelt, 170 gr. rye, 170 gr. white and 20 gr. buckwheat, everything else is the same as the 100% spelt. It turns out great as long as I remember to feed my starter. Right now I have 1 rye, 1 spelt, and 1 white starter on the go. I will try and attach a couple of pictures, first one is the 100% spelt, next is my mix. Thanks again, and keep on making videos, I always go back for references. Also have shared the web site to loads of people. Thanks Jo Ann

  21. Ester

    I just made a sprouted sourdough leavened bread with your sourdough starter and it was delicious. Your video tutorials are very helpful. This is the first time I have ever made bread and I must say, it is the beginning of a long journey of making healthy bread for my family. Thanks!

  22. JoAnna

    I love this bread recipe of all the spelt recipes I’ve tried. But I’m trying to make it into more of a sandwich loaf and every time I put it into a regular stainless steel bread pan (don’t have a clay pullman yet) it breaks along one edge (maybe even the ends) and rises extra high on that side, leaving me with a gaping edge. I slash the top with a knife, so why does it rise funny? Help!

  23. Melody

    Ben,

    I think humidity does have a bit to do with it. I live in Colorado, and my humidity here in the winter is at about 30% humidity. I generally have to add about 1/4 cup more (or so), to get the right texture. If it helps, sometimes I proof it with a moist towel on top (for the second proof), so that it retains it’s moisture, but that depends on the bread. I did that with my spelt bread, and I think that is what allowed it to keep from developing a skin on the dough before I put it in the oven. I agree with Archer Yates, sometimes with practice, you’ll get a feel of how the dough should turn out. No loaf is bad. Take, for instance, a loaf I made a few days ago. My husband didn’t hear the timer go off (I had to get to work) and it turned out blackened on the outside! We just cut off the crust, and ate the innards…and it was sooo yummy :)

  24. Archer yates

    I have had problems with the spelt recipes. You have to learn to trust you touch and feel. The dough should feel dry when you put in in for a fermentation for the night. It will get a lot wetter overnight. If it feels wet or dry you will need to make adjustments. Some experienced bakers go by feel more than exact ingredients.

  25. Ben Wattum

    Following you recipe and measuring the ingredients exactly as you state, in order to get the mixture from being dry, I had to add a extra cup of water. I’m wondering if the humidity would have anything to do with this. My indoor humidity is at 19 %.

  26. Hi Irene,

    Sounds like a good idea.

    There are a bunch of ways you could do the oats. I’d probably start with adding a half cup or so and not change the amount of flour. You’d just have a somewhat larger loaf. You’d have to add more water. Since you’ve already make this bread, you know the approximate feel of the finished dough, so add water until you have roughly the same consistency. Give the oats plenty of time to absorb the water and check it before leaving it sit for the long proof. Of course you could experiment with more oats and maybe less flour to see what you like and what seems to work best for you. As with pretty much any bread baking, the options are endless. Let us know how it goes.

  27. Irene

    This was SOOO good! thank you.
    Even though this is now one of my favorite breads, I would like to add oats to this to add the nutritional value — any ideas on how much to add? Would I just add a cup or so, or take out some of the spelt? Thanks so much!

  28. dmo

    I completely agree that no sweeteners are needed. In fact, I find that using sweeteners in sourdough bread actually makes the bread taste bland. Sourdough cultures are a mixture of wild yeast and bacteria, and I think the sugar in sweeteners feeds the yeast at the expense of the bacteria, and it’s the bacteria that gives the bread that sourdough flavor.

  29. Ryan

    This may be because I’m using fresh-ground spelt with the enzymes still around, but I find honey/agave (or even malted barley) are not necessary at all. All that’s needed is flour, water, salt, and culture. My recipe is as such:
    1) Mix 2oz sourdough starter (100% hydration), 2 oz flour, and 2 oz water. Wait 12 hours.
    2) Mix previous dough with 6oz flour and 6 oz water with 0.25oz Celtic Sea Salt dissolved in. Wait 12 hours.
    3) Mix previous dough with 18 oz flour and 12 oz water with 0.45oz Celtic Sea Salt dissolved in. Wait till doubles or triples in size.
    4) Use silicon scraper to fold over dough until it forms good gluten structure. Grease and cornmeal bread pan and transfer to pan.
    5) Proof and bake.

    I’ve also experimented with adding some time (12 hours) in the fridge between transferring to the bread pan and proofing. I got fantastic sourness and silky texture while still retaining strong enough structure in the finished loaf.

  30. Melody

    I made it! AND IT IS REALLY GOOD! I’m including a picture below. It came out nice and springy, and soft, fluffy, and tasty with a slight tang. I did about 5 stretch and folds over a period of 2 hours, and then I let it sit overnight and it rose beautifully. My kitchen was about 78 degrees when I went to bed, and then about 75 when I woke up. I also did a loaf of the steel cut oats NKB variation with sourdough and a little rye thrown in, and seeded the top. It came out flat…that will be nice soup bread :)

  31. Diane Millar

    Good Morning Eric

    Just a quick note to say that spelt sourdough is now my favorite bread…this time I added some chopped peacan nuts…next time dried cranberries …the possibilities endless… because my Romertopf is a little bigger than yours I simply increase volume of dough using “baker percentage ” guide lines…and use of instant read thermometer a great help…thanks for your great web site …this too is my “favorite” source of info to explore bread making ideas.

    Joy for the Season

    Diane

  32. Hello. I have a question about the basic nk method. I know we all try to tweak it a little here and there because I guess we are curious. wondered if anyone has ever added: one, a dough enhancer and two, dry milk powder. I have these ingredients on hand and would like to try them both with the nk method/recipe. what do you think? anyone?

  33. jv

    Love this recipe! So easy to make. Sometimes I decide at the last minute to make bread for the next day so I grab some sourdough starter from my fridge AND add a pinch or two of instant yeast to the mix. If your starter is not quite active as it is in this video try that since I’ve had good results. My thought is, better to have the loaf soft and fluffy than flat and dense. Plus you’ll get that sourdough taste even if your starter is not up to snuff to do the job!

  34. Kristine Nickel

    Hi Inge,

    When I bake tomorrow, I will soak my clay baker. Thank you for the hint.

    P.S. Sind sie Deutsch ? I noticed that you used an UMLAUT in spelling Roemertopf. Just curious. My mother and I immigrated from Berlin in 1950 .

  35. Inge - Augusta, Michigan

    Hi Kristine:

    thanks for the suggestion! I will use it next time. Re: the Römertopf: I do place the pot into a cold oven and preheat it. When I opened it, it steamed nicely on the inside so I would think there is residual steam left in it.

    thanks again for the hint :)

    -Inge

  36. Archer Yates

    What is your bakers percentage for spelt sourdough? I tried your recipe twice with disappointing results.

  37. Kristine Nickel

    Inge,

    I have had problems in the past with the bread dough sticking to the proofing basket. My solution to this problem is to line the proofing vessel with parchment paper. When ready to bake, I lift the dough, right-side up, holding onto the paper, into my pre-heated baker. ( The paper doesn’t keep it from getting nice and crusty) I don’t soak my Roemertopf…since I pre-heat it up to 500 F. Wouldn’t it be dry by the time it preheats to that temp ? Perhaps you don’t preheat your Topf.

    Thanks for the Grindstone Bakery link.

  38. Kristine Nickel

    Eric,

    After watching your video on grain mills, I recently purchased the Wonder-Mill from you and needless to say, it is very efficient and lives up to my expectations. Will this machine handle spelt kernels? Are the kernels hard enough ? I have only ordered the flour and now want to mill it myself.

    Thanking you in advance for your reply, this is,

    Kristine New Smyrna Beach, Florida

    • Hi Kristine,

      Sure, it will handle spelt kernels just fine.

  39. Inge - Augusta, Michigan

    Hi:

    I just pulled it out of the oven and WOW! (Haven’t cut into it yet, but I am very confident this will be good. I was a little concerned when I turned my bread into the Römertopf it stuck not just a little, but completely to the proofing basket. I ended up scraping it out with my fingers. However, other than the “odd” shape it didn’t have any negative impact on the work product.

    I did soak my old Römertopf for 15 minutes (as encouraged by the instructions) and the crust is fabulous. I guess this gets close to the steam professional baking stoves would have – just guessing.

    I think I will give half of the bread to my mother-in-law, who has pretty bad diabetes. This site (http://grindstonebakery.com/spelt.htm) indicates numerous benefits to spelt.

    Thanks for this recipe!!!

  40. Dean

    Spelt doesn’t have less gluten than wheat. It IS a type of wheat. Whole spelt makes just as good a loaf as whole wheat – better in fact, because the bran is sweet not bitter.

    But whatever flour you’re using, the stretch-and-folds will improve your bread. I now try to do 3 or even 4 between the time I mix the dough and the time I start the second rise, whatever bread or pizza dough I’m making. Doesn’t matter when you do them, so long as you leave at least 20 minutes between folds.

  41. Hi Jason,

    Maybe. Seems like it might. Give it a try and let us know.

  42. Jason

    If one were to add vital wheat gluten to the recipe to make up for the natural reduced gluten of spelt, would it be possible to make it like normal no knead bread and skip the extra “almost kneading” steps ? Thanx :)

  43. Hi Ned,

    Different flours have different moisture absorption characteristics. If you’re familiar with your desired consistency of your starter using regular white wheat flour, then just adjust your spelt starter moisture level until it’s about the same. In your case, add less water and/or more spelt flour to get a stiffer starter. Experiment and note the quantities so you can duplicate it next time. Or better yet, go by feel. It doesn’t have to be exact each time.

    Also, spelt doesn’t have as much gluten as normal wheat flour so you’re going to experience differences in consistency and behavior because of that too. It’s not a good/bad issue, just different.

  44. Ned

    Hi this is a repost from before… but, basically when converting from a white starter to spelt should I be feeding equal weights of flour and water?

    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

  45. Heidi

    have had troubles making sourdough starter before. is there anywhere you can purchase it? or……. do you have any tricks to make it easier?

  46. Guillermo

    Hi Eric,
    Love your site!
    Quick question: I am still working on my starter and since it is not ready yet, I wanted to try this recipe with instant yeast (as you mention in the video). How much instant yeast would you add?
    Guillermo
    PS: I can’t wait for my starter to be ready, so that I can follow the recipe as you posted it.

  47. Alison

    I decided to make the spelt loaf but had no sour dough starter so used yeast then I got distracted when I got a visitor and put the wrong amount of water in so had to up everything else to be in proportion I got mixed up between the no need recipe and the spelt one and had used light spelt intead of wholemeal basically had everything wrong. I left it overnight then did the pull and fold, I think it should have been the other way around so….. boy oh boy was I amazed that once I baked it I got something really nice! Lovely and crusty on the outside and chewy and open textured on the insideYummmm!!!!! Can anyone suggest another flour to mix it with to get a softer lighter texture, I can’t eat wheat would corn flour work?

  48. collette

    Enjoyed your Bread making especially with the Sourdough starter.

    Now if possible could you tell me how to make the starter, and where I can buy Spelt flour. Another question, is Amaranth flour similar to Spelt, in protein?

  49. Hi Ed,

    On my computers, when I click the “previous comments” link, I see 50 comments per page. But there is something messed up on this page that I’m trying to fix. This page should, by default, display many comments and I’m only seeing 2 (ok, now 3). Other posts and pages seem to be working fine (displaying 50 comments per page view). So this could be related to your issue. Computer stuff! I mostly love ‘em. Other times…. not so much.

  50. Ed P

    I’ve tried viewing past spelt comments on two computers. Only one shows up.
    Problem at my end or yours?

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