Sunday, February 2, 2014

In search of the perfect loaf.

About eleven years ago I became aware that my mother was sensitive to products made with wheat flour. She had several symptoms including bruising and digestive difficulties. At that time I began making baked goods with locally grown Spelt flour. As long as we kept away from modern wheat things went well.

As time and my mother passed I began to learn about sourdough bread and began the adventure of Spelt sourdough baking. We had great results with cookies, pancakes, cake and crackers but bread remained...a problem. I churned out doorstop. Handsome weighty loaves that often became bread crumbs for meat loaf and meat balls. Useful but not what I was hoping for.

Last month I came across a wonderful recipe at This recipe became the jumping off place for our Spelt sourdough bread.

During the last baking session I was unexpectedly called away to work during the last rise. So popped the loaves in the refrigerator and hoped for the best. When I got home I set them on the counter. Three hours later they were ready for the oven and turned out very well.

Following the recipe reflecting the changes we have made. As husband is allergic to honey we went to sugar, olive oil instead of coconut and only Spelt flour. I have used the both the milk or water options and melted butter instead of or half and half with olive oil. All of which have worked.

Thank you Tracy Vierra and Wardee!

Photograph by Eric Donaldson Tworivers

Sourdough Bread, Vierra-Style

Sponge ingredients:
  • 1 cup (active state and fed 2 to 3 times before use — this will lessen the sour taste)
  • 1 cup milk or water
  • 2-1/4 cups spelt
Soaked dough ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 cups water or milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
  • ½ cup sugar brown or white
  • 5 1/2 cups spelt flour

Additional ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • butter or olive oil
Makes 2 loaves.
The night before, mix the sponge ingredients together in a bowl. Loosely cover with a cloth to sit overnight. In a separate bowl, mix the soaked dough ingredients together, and also loosely cover to sit overnight.
The next morning, add 2 eggs to the soaked dough mixture and incorporate well. Put both the soaked dough and sponge in a stand mixer of your choice (I use a Kitchen Aid) and mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until well incorporated. Let the dough sit in the mixer for around 30 minutes. Add the sea salt to the dough and mix for 3 to 4 minutes. Depending on the temperature, let dough rise for about an hour. Turn on mixer for 20 seconds. Let dough rise again for an hour, and then mix again for 20 seconds.
After dough has risen for the second time, remove from mixer, knead on a floured surface, and separate the dough into two separate halves. Knead each half just enough to remove excess air, and form each half into a loaf to fit your bread pan. With a knife, slash the loaves of bread with a few marks down the center. Brush each loaf with butter or coconut oil. Cover both of the loaves and let rise in a warm spot. In the winter in our kitchen, this last rise takes a couple of hours. It may be only an hour in the summertime.

I have found that if I put the loaves in the refrigerator over night the loaves continue to rise very slowly. Then I set them out and bring to room temperature (this takes a couple of hours) before baking. This creates a much better crumb.

Once the loaves have risen satisfactorily, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake loaves for 40 to 45 minutes until they sound hollow if you tap them. Remove bread from oven and cool out of pans. Do not slice the bread until it is cooled!!

No comments:

Post a Comment