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Wholemeal Spelt Artisan Bread

By Quirky Cooking

Spelt Artisan Loaf

Spelt Artisan Couronne

Well, the bread was delicious! I love Italian wood-fired oven bread, and this was very much like that, with a moist, slightly chewy texture, and a crunchy, chewy crust - yum! And I'm so happy I've found a recipe that incorporates soaking the grains/flour to make it more digestible. Of course, it's a bonus that's it's so easy! I used about one third ground spelt grain, two thirds unbleached plain spelt flour - next time I'm hoping to try half and half to see how that goes.

Grains (and flour) should be soaked overnight (or longer) at room temperature to increase digestibility - so I'm thinking when I make my next batch that I will soak the flours in the water overnight, then the next day mix in the yeast and salt (with the Thermomix), let it rise for two hours, then put it in the fridge.  It will work either way, and if you don't have time for the overnight soaking, you can just rise the dough for 2 hours (or up to 5 hours) instead.

(This recipe is an altered version of the original from 'Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day'.  There's lots of different way you can use this dough, so have a look at the website for ideas.)

1. Grind in Thermomix for 1 minute on speed 9:
- 250g spelt grain

2. Add and mix on speed 4-5 until all mixed in, using spatula if needed to help it along:
- 750g plain unbleached spelt flour
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons dry yeast
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons coarse salt
- 750g lukewarm water (needs to be lukewarm, or rising time will be longer)
You don't have to knead it, or mix it for very long, only until all the flour is mixed in.

3. Scrape the wet, sticky dough out of the Thermomix into a large plastic container or dough bucket with a lid that is fitted, but not completely airtight. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until it has risen to it's height and then collapsed, or has flattened on the top. Longer rising times, up to 5 hours, will not harm the result, and will help to increase digestibility.

4. You can use some of the dough now, or you can place it in the fridge for whenever you need it. It's a lot easier to work with if you refrigerate it first, as it's less sticky. So for your first loaf, it's probably easier to put it in the fridge for at least three hours first.

5. Baking Day: First, prepare a pizza peel (or a cutting board or pizza tray with baking paper on it) by sprinkling it with cornmeal or wholemeal spelt flour. Sprinkle the top of the dough in the container with some flour to make it less sticky when you pull some out. Pull out a grapefruit sized chunk of dough, hold it in your hand and add a little more flour to the outside of it, so it won't stick to your hands. Don't knead it or squeeze it - just gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom, turning as you go, and gather it under to form a smooth ball, then place it on the floured tray/peel.

6.  Rest the dough on the peel/tray for about 40 minutes, uncovered.  You won't see a lot of rising during this time, but it will rise more in the oven.  After 20 minutes, turn oven on to 230 degrees C (450 degrees F) with a baking stone placed on middle rack.  (If you don't have a baking stone you can use a heavy based tray or flat cast-iron pan.  I used a cast-iron pan the first time and it worked really well.)  Place an empty grill tray in the bottom of the oven or on another rack.

7.  Dust the bread with wholemeal flour or cornmeal and slash a 1/4 inch deep pattern with a sharp knife - criss cross, diagonal, tic-tac-toe, or a 'sun ray' pattern as on the couronne loaf above.

8.  After the 20 minute preheat, open the oven and quickly slide the loaf off the pizza peel or tray, onto the baking stone (or tray or cast-iron pan).  Quickly pout a cup or two of hot water into the empty grill tray and close oven door to trap the steam.

9.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is nicely browned and firm - the dough inside won't dry out because it's so moist.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.  Crust will soften a bit at first, but will firm up again after cooled.

10.  Store remaining dough in the fridge in lidded container and use it over the next 14 days.  Allowing the dough to mature over a couple of days will improve the flavour and texture.  Cut off and shape loaves as you need them - only bake what you can use in a day as it gets quite tough after a day or so.  You can have a couple of different doughs maturing in the fridge at different stages, some with herbs mixed in, some plain... check out the website or book for lots of ideas.  Have fun!

Note:  When you're ready to make a new batch of dough, there's no need to wash out the container from the last batch - just scrape the aged dough down and incorporate it into the new dough and it will give you a head start on the sourdough flavour!

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By Quirky Cooking (Visit website)

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