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Apr 5, 2014

Spelt and Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Spelt and Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

This is Spelt and Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread.

Spelt you ask? What is that? It is an ancient grain now grown mostly in Europe. You can purchase it already ground or in whole berries to grind your own spelt flour. To read more about spelt, check out this post.

Spelt and Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

This bread is pretty easy to make and does not require a mixer. Even though it is a very wet dough, it is fairly easy to handle, probably due to the whole wheat and whole spelt. It is delicious with butter, toasted, and grilled (as in grilled cheese sandwich, tuna melt, etc.). It's very tasty thinly sliced and served with spreads, cheeses, and meats too.

Spelt and Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

You will need a sourdough starter at 100% hydration to leaven this bread. If you don't have one, you can start one. The King Arthur Flour site has an easy recipe for starting your own.

You will also need a kitchen scale and a very large bowl or dough rising bucket. I baked these in cast iron Dutch ovens. If you don't have one, you can rig up a pizza stone and an upside down metal bowl, as shown in this post.

This is the March Bread of the Month (The BOM) for our Facebook Artisan Bread Bakers baking group. The recipe was contributed by Nancy, who takes some of the best bread photographs I have ever seen. She modified a recipe from the amazing book, Tartine.

Spelt and Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Spelt and Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread Recipe

Sourdough Starter/Levain

Mix 50g of any starter with 200g water, 100g bread flour, and 100g of whole wheat flour. Let stand at room temperature, covered, overnight until bubbly and active.

To Make the Bread


300 g spelt flour
600 g bread flour
100 g whole wheat flour
70 g wheat germ
150 g of the sourdough starter/levain
800 g warm (80 degrees F) water
25 g sea salt
50 g warm water


In a large bowl or dough rising bucket, whisk together the spelt, bread, and whole wheat flours, and the wheat germ.

In another bowl, mix the 150 g of starter with the 800 g of water. Pour the levain/water mixture over the flour and mix by hand. It should look like this:

Spelt and Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Cover and let sit (autolyse) for 30 minutes.

Add the salt, the 50 g of warm water, and mix by hand to fully incorporate the salt. Cover the container for bulk fermentation.

You will need to do 5 stretch and folds every 30 minutes for the first 2 1/2 hours. Place your hand or a dough scraper under the dough, pull it up, and fold it over the top of the dough. Do this from all four "sides." Flip the ball over, and re-cover the container. Each time you do a stretch and fold, you will see the dough begin to smooth out. 

Here it is after the second stretch and fold:

Spelt and Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

And after the final one:

Spelt and Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

After the final stretch and fold, cover the dough and allow it to rise 60 to 90 minutes longer. It will not have necessarily doubled in size, but it will be soft and airy. Mine was about 1 1/2 times its original size. 

On an unfloured surface, divide the dough in half and gently shape the dough into rounds. Be careful not to degas the dough. Cover the rounds with oiled plastic wrap and let them rest for 30 minutes. 

Shape the dough into boules. This video provides a great demonstration of the method (go to minute 3:09). 

Place the boules, seam side up, into floured baskets. I coated one of my loaves in seeds before placing it in the basket. Cover the baskets in oiled plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. 

The next morning, place two Dutch ovens in the oven and preheat it to 500 degrees F (if you have just one Dutch oven, leave the other loaf in the refrigerator until after you've baked the first loaf and have reheated the pan). 

Carefully transfer the dough to the Dutch oven, seam side down. I turn the dough out onto a piece of good parchment paper, and then use that as a sling to lift the dough into the pan. The parchment seems to hold up just fine (no fires so far). 

Slash the top of the dough, cover the pot, and place it back in the oven. At the 20 minute mark, reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. After another 10 minutes, remove the tops of the pans, and continue to bake for another 15 to 25 minutes, until the bread reaches 210 degrees F and is a deep golden brown. 

Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. 

Sharing with Yeastspotting (an amazing collection of bread posts)

Would you like to comment?

  1. GORGEOUS loaf!! I need to make some more bread...

    1. Thank you!! It's a beautiful thing! I need to make pretty desserts like you do!

  2. Thanks, I had nice results with this loaf. One thing I don't understand: why make 450 grams of starter when the recipe only uses 150 grams?

    1. That's fairly typical with starter. It may not get going with less starter. You can save the leftover as your refreshed starter, or use it for crackers, pancakes, etc.

  3. Thanks for this! This recipe has become one of my favorites; I bake it at least twice a month.

  4. The bread turned out amazing. I didn't have wheat germ so I replaced it by ground flax seeds and it worked out well. Thanks for the recipe.

  5. Thanks for this recipe. It love it! I've made it several times and it's always come out perfectly. The bread has a wonderful texture and sour flavor. It's great toasted.

  6. Thanks for the recipe. I want to try but would only like to make one loaf. Do you foresee any issues cutting the recipe in half ingredient wise?

    1. I'm sure you'll be fine. I've done that myself.

  7. Could I ask, are you using wholegrain spelt flour, or white (refined) spelt flour. We have 2 varieties in the shops, hence the Q. Thank you very much. The recipe looks amazing - can't wait to try it.


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