You might think I have nothing better to do than watch bread rise, but nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t really have the time to fuss around with making bread. However………..I haven’t found a commercial wholegrain spelt bread on the market that actually tastes good. Some of them are absolutely awful and taste like sawdust. And the brand I do like is made with light spelt flour, so it’s basically white bread, which I prefer to avoid. Plus, it’s really expensive!
Spelt flour is more nutritious than wheat, containing more protein, more niacin, more tryptophan and fewer calories than wheat flour, but it requires a very light hand to work with it. Ordinary kneading techniques or (especially) a bread machine just result in an inedible brick. Since switching to spelt I have given up my bread machine, as I just can’t use it with spelt flour.
I set out to try to find a recipe or technique for making tasty spelt bread that’s quick and easy too. I borrowed heavily from the blog: “breadtopia“. You should check out Eric’s videos for his “stretch and fold” technique, which I used. His method for making spelt bread requires sourdough, which I didn’t have time (a week!!!)to make, as well as overnight proofing, which I really don’t have time for.
If you have or can make a spelt sourdough starter you should use it, as sourdough breads are much healthier, because the sourdough can break down the gliadin, one of the proteins in gluten which cause so many problems in gluten-intolerant people.
So, I developed this recipe which uses Fleischmann’s Pizza Yeast, a marvelous super-quick rising yeast that solves a lot of problems when it comes to working with spelt flour. No overnight proofing needed!
I was thrilled to find that Eric uses a clay baker to give his bread a really crispy crust, and since my clay baker has been languishing just waiting for an opportunity to be used, I thought I would try it.
Speedy Wholegrain Spelt Bread
TOTAL time: about 2 hours, which includes:
Prep. time: 5 minutes
Rising time: 1 1/2 hours (3 by 15 minute stretch and fold, 45 min. proofing) (preheat during last 15 minutes of proofing)
Baking time: 45 minutes Makes 12 good sized slices, 140 calories each
530 g. wholegrain spelt flour. (Yes, I weighed mine. In Eric’s recipe he states 5 cups, but my 530 g was actually 4 cups, so it pays to be careful as you don’t really know the water content in the flour, which will affect the weight, the dough and the finished product).
1 3/4 cups very warm water
3 Tablespoons honey
3 1/2 teaspoons pizza or fast-rising yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Fluff up the flour using a whisk or fork, THEN measure or weigh it out.
Pour the very warm water into a large mixing bowl, then stir in the honey.
Add the yeast and salt to the flour.
Pour all the flour mixture into the water and honey mixture, and using a danish dough whisk or a large fork, work the dough gently until all the water is incorporated.
Then, using your hands, form the dough into a ball. Do NOT knead this dough.
Cover the bowl with plastic and let sit for 15 minutes. (you can set a timer, if you like)
Using a wet spatula, separate the dough from the side of the bowl.
Flour your hands and the top of the dough, pick it up and stretch it out to about a foot in length, then fold it in two. Then stretch it the other way and fold it in two. It will want to break but that’s OK.
Cover with plastic and let rest 15 minutes.
Do this twice more. This stretching technique allows bubbles to form in the dough but doesn’t break the fragile glutens.
Then take the dough out with floured hands, stretch and fold it a final time, bringing the sides together to form a round.
Place the round into a floured bowl for the final proofing. Allow it to rest for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, place the clay baker into a cold oven and set the temperature to 450 degrees.
When the oven and clay baker have preheated, use a wet spatula to pry the dough away from the bowl (next time I will line my bowl with parchment!)
Carefully remove the clay baker cover (make sure you’re wearing oven mitts).
Then tip the proofed dough right into the hot clay baker.
Place the lid back on the clay baker and allow bread to bake at 450 for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, remove the clay baker from the oven, carefully lift the lid as steam will come whooshing out, tip the bread out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool for an hour before cutting.
My 100% Wholegrain Spelt Bread turned out to be wonderful – nutty, fragrant, delicious with a great, crisp crust. It was a little flatter than it should have been, probably a result of my struggle to get it out of the proofing bowl and into the hot clay baker, but it sure disappeared!
* Please note that if you use any other type of yeast or sourdough, your rising and proofing times may be much longer.