Classic Spelt Loaf - BC20 Back to Basics

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What is spelt? Spelt is a species of wheat. It's also known as dinkel or hulled wheat. It's ancient flour. We know that our Bronze Age ancestors were familiar with it and it was a staple right through until the Middle Ages. The Romans baked using it and it was a popular bread throughout the Roman Empire. 

In its natural form, it survives today in Spain and Central Europe. However, it's also widely produced as a healthy food and a popular flour. 

From the baker's position, spelt naturally proofs and therefore, we must guard against over-proofing. Remember the BC20 maxim...watch the dough, not the clock. 

Baking with spelt is no different from baking with wheat. It's treated like any other wholegrain wheat. The taste is nuttier and it's often found to be easier on digestion. 

We're going to work with two methods:

METHOD 1 - will involve mixing, kneading and then cold-proofing overnight before baking the following morning. 

METHOD 2  - will involve mixing, kneading, proofing, shaping, proofing and baking. All in the same day. 

Two methods...which will fit better into your schedule? Why not try them both? 

INGREDIENTS FOR BOTH METHODS

500 gms of wholemeal/wholegrain spelt bread flour (organic, if you so wish)

350 gms tepid water

1 teaspoon crushed sea salt

1 tablespoon Muscovado sugar (or equivalent)

2 tablespoons olive oil (or vegetable)

1 heaped teaspoon of
instant active yeast

for the topping

1 egg white, beaten

sesame seeds (black, white or in combination)

METHOD

In a bread machine 

Add the water and salt first. Then add the remainder of the ingredients and finally, the yeast. 

Use a basic wholemeal / wholegrain programme (afterwards move on to Stage 3) OR an instant start programme (e.g. pizza) and then remove the dough from the machine when it has become silky and smooth (8 minutes) and proceed to Stage 2 below.

In a stand mixer

Add the flour and dry ingredients (but not the yeast).

Slowly add the water and yeast on a low setting until all has been absorbed.

Switch to a medium setting and continue to mix until you have a soft and silky dough. Remove the dough and proceed to Stage 2 below

Hand mixing 

Stage 1

Add the flour, salt and sugar into a large bowl and mix them together. 

Add the oil, yeast, and water and bring the dough together. 

Tip onto an un-floured board and knead for about 10 minutes until you have a soft and silky dough.


Stage 2

Roll the dough in wholemeal flour and place in a bowl. Cover and leave to rest in a warm place for about an hour or until it has doubled in volume.


Stage 3

Now decide whether you're using Method 1 or Method 2. 

If you're using METHOD 1 - then tip the dough out of the bowl, knead gently for a few times and then place it back into the bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 12 - 16 hours. 


When you're ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator and shape it on a lightly-floured board. Move it around the board gently to help build in a little surface tension.




Place the loaf onto a prepared baking sheet or in to a prepared tin and leave it to proof for an hour at room temperature or until the dough has just doubled in size. 

After an hour or when the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 180⁰C. 

Glaze the top of the loaf with an egg white glaze and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds. 

Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 - 45 minutes until golden and hollow when tapped underneath

Cool on a rack


If you're using  METHOD 2 - then tip the dough out of the bowl and shape it into a batard or a boule on a lightly-floured board. Move it around the board gently to help build in a little surface tension. 

Place the loaf onto a prepared baking sheet and leave it to proof for an hour at room temperature or until the dough has just doubled in size. 

After an hour or when the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 180⁰C. 

Glaze the top of the loaf with an egg white glaze and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds. 


Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 - 45 minutes until golden and hollow when tapped underneath

Cool on a rack



And from the taste testers: (they sampled a trial loaf that hadn't been slashed to allow for expansion) 


Happy Baking....
















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