An Experiment – Spelt Country Levain

Spelt Country Levain

Here at a Breaducation our goal is to get you to the point where you are comfortable enough and knowledgeable enough with the process of baking bread that you can create your own beautiful custom loaves of bread. We want you to be able to throw crazy flours and seeds and grains and whatever else you can think up in your bread and know it will come out well or at least learn something valuable along the way.

For inspiration, we will be sharing some of our own bread experiments on the blog from time to time. We hope you will enjoy checking them out and learning from them as we do! This week I tried my hand at a country bread with a spelt flour variation.

Country bread style loaves are quite popular these days thanks in part to Tartine Bakery owner Chad Robertson’s book called Tartine Bread. While Chad’s country bread is know for it’s high hydration and long fermentation, a country style bread can usually be defined as wild yeast leavened and contains a small amount of whole grain flour, around 10-20%. This small amount of whole wheat is meant to simulate flour produced in an old french country mill, think of the ones powered by water, where the miller doesn’t quite sift out all of the whole grain when making white flour. Hence the name country bread.

I love a good country bread as I think most people do. It is one of the most fun, beautiful and often times challenging styles of bread to make. However, I find myself becoming bored of the standard 10% whole wheat flour in the formula. In an attempt to changes things up I will often raise or lower the percentage of whole wheat in the dough. As little as a 10% change can have drastic effect on flavor. I’ve also tried putting all the whole wheat in the sourdough starter, something that adds quite a bit of sourness to final flavor.

Lately, I’ve  been playing around with different flours to accent the flavor. In my latest effort I have used spelt flour in place of the whole wheat. The result is quite nice! It has a subtle nutty flavor that is quite pleasing.  In my next bake I’ll try upping the spelt to 20% and see if I like it as much.

Here are the results of the spelt country bread experiment:

Spelt Country Levain

Spelt Country Levain

Spelt Country Levain

Spelt Country Levain

  • margie

    Hi,
    Are you going to be sharing formulas? Was this baked in a professional oven?

    • http://www.abreaducation.com abreaducation

      Margie,
      This bread was baked in my(not so good) home gas oven using a cast iron dutch oven. The dutch oven is really what allows me to bake great bread at home. Even though my oven is pretty bad(doesn’t retain heat or steam) it doesn’t matter as long as I’m using the dutch oven. This is the one I use: Lodge Combo Cooker. It really works wonders. I just leave the bread covered in the dutch oven for the first 15 minutes of the bake it perfectly steams the loaf.

      -Jorgen

  • Mantana

    Good Afternoon:
    Your breads are awesome! I saw your breads in The Fresh loaf and had followed you to your Blog. I have never use spelt flour nor eat bread with spelt flour before. Plan to use it when I start back to baking again when the weather cool down a bit. In VA. our temperature is quite high lately and to bake breads with high oven temperature will be too hard for our air condition. Your sprout bread is also very beautiful and again I have never try it. I will have a lot of baking to do come Fall. Thank you for sharing.

    • http://www.abreaducation.com abreaducation

      Thanks for kind words! Baking in hot weather is indeed challenging. I am lucky enough to be located in San Francisco where the weather never really goes above 75F. Good luck to you!

  • margie

    Hi,
    Is this the Tartine country loaf, with spelt in place of WW?
    What flours did you build your levain with?

    • http://www.abreaducation.com abreaducation

      Hi Margie,
      This is not the tartine country loaf but it is very similar. Sort of my own variation of it. The formula and process for this loaf is almost exactly the same as the formula for my sprouted wheat country bread found here. Just swap out the sprouted wheat for whole spelt flour and you will be good to go.

      My levain is fed with 25% whole wheat flour and 75% white flour. It is 100% hydration and usually ferments for around 12 hours between feedings. Sometimes I like to let it over ferment a bit and go 18 hours or so before I put it in bread to get a little more sourness out of it.

      Thanks for checking out the blog!

      -Jorgen

  • margie

    Hi Jorgen,
    I am having a problem with my breads! I have made excellent breads in the past, bursting open with great slashes. Look like your SF sourdough! Now, over & over, my loaves are not bursting, slashes not opening, & not coloring well. I even made some ciabatta rolls that looked great, rose well, but wouldn’t color inspite of extended baking.
    I keep adjusting the proof time to less, & I try to do the poke test, but I can’t tell if they are over or under proofed. Is there another way I can judge this? The levain is bubbly, floating, etc. Gad!!

    • abreaducation

      Margie,
      Have you changed the way you’re steaming the bread? A lack of color even after extended baking suggests to me that the bread isn’t getting enough steam in the first few minutes of baking. This could also prevent slashes from opening and getting good oven spring.

      It is difficult to say whether your breads are over or under proofed without knowing more about your process and formula. Chances are though that if the bread is not rising at all in the oven or collapsing then you’re over proofing. Over proofing could also help explain the lack of color because an over proofed bread does not color very well as most of the sugars in the crust have already been consumed by the yeast.

      Hope this helps!

      -Jorgen

      • margie

        Hi again Jorgen,
        My steaming is the same, either in a combo, or under a roasting pan. My build was different. I used a spreadsheet that converts %, I was going for a 125%. It also uses all of the previous build for the next build, about 50%, I think. I liked this method, no
        waste :) Most of the other baker’s formulas, however, don’t use this much seed in a build, for example, Tartine is about 20%. How much difference will this make?

  • http://www.breathwork.be Breathwork

    Hi is this a sourdough spelt, if so could you share the recipe and the method for it. Thanks