Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Week of Whole Grain Baking, Day 5: Sweet Spelt Sourdough

I figured that the easiest way to get rid of a whole bag of spelt flour was to make a loaf of bread. The only spelt bread recipe that I found in the Whole Grain Baking book was the Sweet Spelt Sourdough bread. Having been thinking about it all week, in preparation for Shabbat, I pulled out my sourdough starter. Let me tell you, that thing was severely neglected. Nevertheless, I discarded the nastiness that was on top of it, and began nourishing it anew with spelt flour. I seemed to be getting little action, which is not surprising as it had gone abandoned for so long and I didn't give it long enough to ferment properly. In any case, I disregarded this and proceeded with the recipe. In the end, I spiked the dough with 1 tsp of instant yeast to help it along. And it helped it along marvelously. (So much so, that should I ever want to make a spelt loaf, this is the recipe I'll use, adapting it as needed for a regular yeasted loaf.) The only other change I made was to use oil instead of melted butter. Additionally, I gave this loaf a rise in the fridge instead of baking it straight away. How did it turn out? AMAZING! that's how! With the very first bite, I tasted the sweetness of the spelt flour. The loaf had great, moist texture, perfect for sandwiches- and that's not just because the slices were nice and tall. The loaf didn't scream sourdough at all, but it was definitely there, the last thing you tasted in the loaf. Visually, this bread is one of my best yet; it slashed beautifully (I think because I was quick and confident!) and didnt collapse. The slashes opened up beautifully in the oven and I got a deep brown color on the crust. Pretty much, what I'm trying to say, is that I loved this bread, both by the slice and topped with dip. This one gets a repeat. I'm sending this off to Yeastspotting!

Sweet Spelt Sourdough
adapted from Whole Grain Baking

1 tbsp ripe spelt levain
1 cup whole spelt flour
1/2 cup cold water

3 cups whole spelt flour
1-1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup cool water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp honey
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast

The night before baking, make the levain by combining all of the ingredients in a container. Stir well, scraping down the sides and set aside at room temperature overnight. By the next day it should be expanded and bubbly.
On bake day, place the levain, spelt flour, 1 cup of all purpose flour, water, oil, honey, salt and yeast in a medium bowl.
Stir to make a shaggy dough. Allow to rest for a bit. Turn onto a well floured surface and knead by hand until smooth and elastic. Use as little remaining flour as possible.
Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover and stash in the fridge overnight.
Here's what my dough looked like the next morning. Remove from the bowl and shape it into a sandwich loaf.
Place it in a greased 8x4 inch loaf pan. Allow to proof. While it is proofing, preheat the oven to 425.
Here is my proofed loaf.
Quickly and confidently, slash your loaf with a sharp knife or a lame.
Bake for ten minutes; then turn down the oven to 400. Continue to bake until golden brown, about 30-35 minutes more.
Turn it out of the pan immediately and cool it on a wire rack completely before slicing. 

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