Simple Spelt Sourdough Bread

By Amanda Paa – Updated January 12, 2022
5 from 46 votes
Make homemade spelt sourdough bread with this simple recipe that includes an overnight final rise in the refrigerator, totally hands off! Spelt flour is known for it's wonderful health benefits, and it's nutty, complex flavor which makes this bread extra delicious. It's combined with bread flour to help the dough keep its shape, and rise beautifully in the oven. Naturally leavened with active sourdough starter.
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open crumb photo of spelt sourdough bread on a cutting board

I’ve been working on this delicious Spelt Sourdough Bread recipe for the past month, and I can’t wait for you to add this one to your sourdough baking repertoire. This loaf has a crisp, blistered crust with a soft and chewy crumb that I just love, similar to my rye sourdough. The wheat overtones throughout each bite are the flavor I dream of in a homemade loaf of bread.

Spelt is much more extensible than (the ability to stretch out before resisting or tearing) than bread flour, so I found it to be a balancing act with the amount of spelt used and hydration when incorporating into a sourdough loaf. I found that a slightly lower hydration was super helpful in making this dough easier to work and still produced a light, open crumb because of the extensibility. Using a strong bread flour is also important for ensuring the loaf holds it shape, which is why I use King Arthur’s bread flour.

What is Spelt?

Spelt is a whole grain type of wheat. It’s in the ancient grain category, and has structural similarities to all-purpose flour (although forms less gluten than white flour, so isn’t completely interchangeable), but more flavor and body. You’ll taste its delicious nuttiness and depth in bread, which pairs lovely with the tang of sourdough.

Is Spelt Sourdough Healthy?

When spelt grains are milled into flour, the outer layer, a.k.a. the bran, is left on, which is where the B vitamins, fatty acids, protein, minerals, and fiber are. So you get all of that nutrition in your bread!

And according to Wikipedia, spelt requires fewer fertilizers, so the organic farming movement is making it more popular again, as is the health food industry.

How to Make Spelt Sourdough Bread, a Baker’s Schedule

  • 9am: Feed your sourdough starter, so that it peaks over the next 4-5 hours.
  • around 2pm: Mix dough in a bowl. Sprinkle salt on top. Let rest (the autolyse) for 1 hour.
  • 3pm: Use you hands to really squeeze and knead the dough for 2 minutes. Then perform your 1st of stretch and folds. Set a timer for 20 minutes, when it goes off do your 2nd set. Set a timer for 20 minutes, when it goes off do your 3rd set. Set a time for 20 minutes, do your 4th set.
  • Now your dough will go through it’s bulk fermentation, resting on the counter for several hours, until it has almost doubled in size, but not quite.
  • It will likely be about 8:30 or 9pm when bulk fermentation is finished, depending on the temperature of your home (which impacts the speed at which it rises). At this point, turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface, and let rest for 20 minutes covered with a towel.
  • Shape your dough and put into a banneton. Put the banneton into a large plastic bag so that air does not get in, and put in the refrigerator for the overnight final rise.
  • Anytime between 8 and 10am the next day, bake your bread. Remove from the refrigerator once the oven has preheated, and bake!
woman in sweater holding a loaf of sourdough bread
spelt sourdough bread on a cutting board, cut in half.

How do I know when my spelt sourdough has finished bulk fermentation?

For this recipe, your dough is done bulk fermenting when it is about a 75% increase, not yet doubled. This will give you the best results and oven spring. If it doubles or rises even further, then it will be likely to deflate because spelt does not have a strong gluten structure to hold a high rise.

At 75% growth, it will also have small bubbles throughout the dough that you’ll be able to see. You’ll want to use a high-sided bucket for proofing, which makes it very easy to gauge the growth of the dough.

Using an inexpensive, tall-sided bucket significantly improved my sourdough baking because the dough doesn’t spread out like it does in a bowl, which makes it very hard to tell how much it has risen.

spelt sourdough bread loaf with blue linen
sliced spelt sourdough bread on a cutting board, with butter and knife.

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loaf of spelt sourdough bread with blue linen.

Simple Spelt Sourdough Bread

Made with whole-grain spelt flour, this sourdough bread has the most delicious nutty flavor and soft, chewy crumb. The outside is crisp and beautifully golden brown.
5 from 46 votes
Prep Time :15 minutes
Cook Time :45 minutes
Yield: 1 loaf
Author: Amanda Paa

SCALE:

Ingredients

Equipment

Instructions 

  • In a large bowl, whisk starter, water, and honey. Add the flours mixing first with a fork or spatula, then switching to your hands. A rough, sticky dough will form, no dry bits should be showing. Sprinkle top with the salt. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 1 hour (this is the autolyse).
  • After the autolyse, work the dough generously with your hands, squeezing and kneading for at least 2 minutes to begin building the gluten. Then do your first set of stretch and folds (video to show you how). Let dough rest for 30 minutes, covered.
  • Perform another set of stretch and folds. Let rest for 30 minutes. Perform another set of stretch and folds, and let rest for 30 minutes. Perform your 4th and final set of stretch and folds.
  • Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rise until it has increased about 75% (short of doubling), has small bubbles throughout the dough (you'll be able to see through the sides of the container or bowl), may have a bubble or two on top, jiggles a bit in the bowl. Go by how the dough looks, rather than time.
  • Now it’s time to shape. Gently coax the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Shape it into a rustic round and let rest, covered, for 15 minutes.
  • Then shape the dough using this method. Put banneton with dough into a plastic grocery bag, or garbage bag, so that it doesn't dry out, and let cold proof in refrigerator, overnight, for about 10 hours. Alternatively, you can let it go through its final rise on the counter top, covered, until almost doubled again.
  • Preheat your oven, with dutch oven in it, to 475 degrees F. When oven is preheated, take dough out of refrigerator, cover with a piece of parchment (cut larger than the banneton) and a cutting board or large plate on top of the parchment, and flip banneton onto counter so that seam is now on the parchment. Lift banneton off. Gently rub a bit of flour onto the top, and score the dough.
  • Lift parchment with bread into a dutch oven, put lid on.
  • Turn oven down to 450 degrees F, and slide pot into oven on middle rack, and bake with cover on for 25 minutes. Remove cover, turn heat down to 435 degrees F, and bake for another 20 minutes, until exterior is golden brown and crispy.
  • Let cool for one hour before cutting. Store bread in a plastic bag, cut side down for up to four days.

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January 12, 2022

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85 comments

  1. Reuel Emery

    5 stars
    1st time made this using APF flour. Turned out great.

  2. Lindsey LeCroy

    5 stars
    I love this recipe! I had to start making it at a different time today though… can I let it rest in the refrigerator for more than ten hours? Thanks so much!

    • Amanda Paa

      Yes, can be in fridge up to 18 hours for best rise! So glad you like the recipe. 🩷

      • Lindsey LeCroy

        Great, thank you very much!

  3. alison carletta

    5 stars
    Easy to follow, consistent results. Great flavor

  4. Barbara

    5 stars
    This recipe is delicious and would like to try using semolina flour, like the bread I have when in Italy. Could I just replace the spelt with semolina?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hello! I have not tested this recipe with semolina.

  5. Catherine Kirkpatrick

    5 stars
    Hi,
    Thank you for your excellent recipe!

    I’m having trouble scoring the dough. I bought a lame. I find it only cuts if the dough is stretched tight. However, after the 2nd ferment the dough is soft and hard to cut. How do you do it?

    Thanks,
    Catherine

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Catherine! Are you doing the second ferment on the counter or in the fridge? Warm dough is much more difficult to score because it is soft, so that is why I prefer the cold final rise. Then straight from the fridge to scoring to oven, no warm up time on the counter. You may find these Tips for Shaping Sourdough Bread helpful, too!

  6. Hinda

    Hi. I see when to sprinkle on the salt. When does it get mixed in?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hello! You’ll see in step 2 that it gets kneaded in.

  7. Evelyn

    Do you have a recipe for SD bread with 100% white spelt? Would appreciate your help. Thx.

    • Amanda Paa

      Hello! This is my only spelt sourdough recipe, sorry.

  8. Izzy

    5 stars
    I have made this recipe twice now and it is easily one of my favorite recipes. It’s utterly delicious! Thank you so much for this very easy to follow recipe! I do have one question. The 2 times I have made this I did not end up baking for the entire time suggested otherwise I would have burned the top. After the 1st 20 minutes when I take off the lid the loaf is already a nice golden color. I took off the lid for about 10 minutes then took it out of the oven to prevent burning. Is there any reason why I can’t bake this with the lid on the entire time?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Izzy! You can certainly keep the lid on past 20 minutes if you’d like, and achieve the desired crust color you prefer. Glad you are enjoying the recipe!

  9. Jason

    5 stars
    Hi
    I have tried this recipe three times now, and with these flours it comes out perfect. I use a whole rye sourdough strater.
    My question is should I place a pan with water in the oven?

    • Amanda Paa

      Great to hear that, Jason! If you are doing an open bake, you could put some water in a pan to create steam. But if you using a dutch oven or something similar that is closed, you don’t need the pan.

  10. Pam Pittman

    5 stars
    Oh my gosh!!! This made the best bread ever. I have fallen, hard, for sourdough everything. There are a couple bakers I follow online and am learning so much. But I have to say that this recipe is my favorite. I love the fact that it is spelt but was totally surprised when it turned out so good.
    Thank you!

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for making the recipe!

  11. Peg

    5 stars
    Thanks so much Amanda, for providing clear instructions and time estimates! After starting my sourdough journey with a couple of beginner recipes, I really wanted to try a different grain. The Spelt recipe turned out great and you’ve given me confidence to keep going!

    • Amanda Paa

      Yay, love to hear this! ❤️

  12. Gal Sharoni

    Hi, I was just wondering, In what ratio do you feed your starter in this recipe?

    • Amanda Paa

      I usually feed a 1:2:2!

  13. Laura Marie Leaney

    5 stars
    This is the second recipe I’ve used from Heartbeet Kitchen and it turned our great. The bread is absolutely delicious. I’m pretty sure I let it get a bit too high in the bucket, so my loaf did not rise in the oven as much as I would have liked. Still, it was golden and crunchy on the outside, moist and nutty on the inside. No bread lover would turn a slice down. I’m a total fan of the bread recipes!

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad to hear that! Thanks for making the recipe.

  14. Geli

    5 stars
    Amazing taste. Also since reading about the trick with the tall-sided bucket to better see the proofing process, it really improved my timing to determine when the dough was ready. This and the honey walnut loaf are my absolute favourites!!
    Sticking to these recipes is fool-proof, you can’t go wrong.
    Hope you will make a recipe with buckwheat flour too :-).

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad you enjoyed the bread, and the bucket tip helped! It’s something I wish I would have known when I started!

  15. nophry

    5 stars
    GREAT!

  16. Vas Mag

    5 stars
    Thank you very much for the excellent recipe which we made exactly as you describe and with a great success!
    Greetings from Greece!

    • Amanda Paa

      oh, so great to hear that! and how wonderful that the joy of bread spans the ocean. greetings to you!

  17. Cherri

    5 stars
    I have only tried this recipe so far and it has been my go-to. I’m a sour dough newbie and your instructions, video and timelines are very helpful. The loaves have turned out good. I’m getting up the nerve to try your rye bread recipe. Thank you.

    • Amanda Paa

      So great to hear, Cherri! Love that you’re enjoying the spelt sourdough. Thanks for making the recipe!

      • Cherri

        5 stars
        Hi Amanda, I’m really enjoying this recipe and your easy to follow instructions. If I want to double or triple this recipe, at what point do I divide the dough? Your guidance would be much appreciated. Thanks again.

        • Amanda Paa

          Hi Cherri! I’m so glad you are enjoying the spelt sourdough. If you want to double, you’ll divide at the time you go to shape.

    • Cherri

      5 stars
      Hello again, today is my second time doubling this recipe. I’m very happy with the results. Thank you again! I’ve made your cinnamon bun recipe and was reviewing it to make again when I noticed that you use a metal pan. I used glass last time and don’t have metal pans. What would I notice if I used metal? Is it critical to the outcome to use metal? Thank you again for your wonderful guides, recipes and videos and your quick replies!

      • Amanda Paa

        Hello Cherri! Glass bakeware is heavier and slower to heat than metal, but once it’s hot, it retains that heat for much longer. This means that when using a glass pan to bake cinnamon rolls, the sides and bottom will brown at a much faster rate than the interior cooks leading to tough rolls. They should be used for casseroles or fruit crisps only.

  18. Cindy Mays

    5 stars
    I made this loaf with fresh cut rosemary this time. I folded it up in the very last shaping and man it smells amazing cooking … I want to express my appreciation for YOU! We love all of the hard work you go to and give us your amazing recipes! ♥️ Just can’t get enough of this recipe and the rye baby loaf 🥳

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Cindy! That sounds amazing with the rosemary! Thank you for the kind words, and making my recipes. It means a lot!

  19. Lisa Bell

    5 stars
    Excellent clear instructions, really inspired to give it a try. Thank you.

    • Amanda Paa

      You’re welcome, thanks for visiting!

  20. patricia whitley

    could i please have the recipe in standard measures. i do not own a scale.

    • Amanda Paa

      hello! you’ll need a scale for this recipe, as sourdough recipes are developed by ratios and weight. cups measure volume, so the recipe would not turn out correct is using them.

  21. Alicia Ferderer

    5 stars
    Thanks Amanda, I had been wanting to try spelt flour sourdough for some time.This was perfect, thank you for another great recipe!

    • Amanda Paa

      great to hear, Alicia! thanks for making the recipe!

  22. Tess M

    5 stars
    Followed the recipe, except used my Hobart mixer at medium speed for 18 minutes instead of manual folds for gluten development…Turned out very well- great crumb and bite. Will be making this over and over and over…

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad you enjoyed it, Tess! I’ll have to check out a Hobart mixer, I haven’t heard of that before.

      • Carla Hindley

        Could this recipe be done in the bread maker ?

        • Amanda Paa

          Hi! I haven’t tested this in a bread maker.

  23. sandi

    I don’t have a dutch oven. Will this turn out ok going straight into the oven? Would the oven temperature need to be different?

    • Amanda Paa

      hello! you’ll want to google “baking sourdough bread without a dutch oven” for insight on this. you’ll need a steam source and a way to cover the dough, on a heated stone.

  24. Deborah Douglas

    5 stars
    Such a lovely flavor
    My best bake ever
    And I doubled the recipe

    • Amanda Paa

      Wonderful to hear! Thank you for making the recipe.

  25. Michael S

    5 stars
    Excellent recipe! My only issue is that the spelt my friend ground for me has a very earthy flavor. And, I use einkorn an white winter wheat berries so am used to ancient grains and non–traditional wheat. https://ptpimg.me/9ay04j.jpg, https://ptpimg.me/u3hd19.jpg, https://ptpimg.me/9s7ewo.jpg, https://ptpimg.me/uh6ykf.jpg I proofed and baked in a loaf tin and while I was concerned it didn’t rise much overnight in the refrigerator the dough had great spring as you can see in the pictures.

  26. Toshie

    5 stars
    I have been baking sourdough for about 5 years now and this recipe is one of the best! Very flavorful, comes out always good, predictable results, good rise, smell! Happy I found this recipe!! Thank you.

    • Amanda Paa

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the Spelt Sourdough! Thank you for the kind note!

  27. Carol

    5 stars
    I made this bread a couple of times now. yum! No surprise, it is denser than when I make Tartine whole wheat loaf and the Tartine Basic Country Bread. My husband and I love the flavor and texture of the spelt sourdough. I noticed that my banneton liner was wet when I took the dough out of the refrigerator to bake it. That is not the case of other Tartine recipes. I this normal?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Carol! So glad you like the spelt sourdough! I’m not sure about the banneton liner, as I don’t use one. You could reduce the hydration a bit if you desire.

  28. Casey G

    5 stars
    I have tried a few sour dough recipes so far, mainly with white flour or a mix of white and whole wheat. My partner and I are trying to be healthier so I found Amanda’s recipe and decided to give it a shot. I followed the recipe exactly and have to say it’s hands down the best tasting, best texture sour dough I’ve made. Thank you Amanda for sharing your talent and wisdom with us! I’m in the middle of making my second loaf this week as we speak!

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Casey! I’m so glad you like this recipe and it was easy to follow! Enjoy more sourdough baking. :)

  29. Jessica

    5 stars
    I wanted to start incorporating ancient grains into my sourdough, I found this recipe through a Pinterest search and it turned out great! I’m excited to try some of her other recipes now!

    • Amanda Paa

      Such a beautiful photo you posted of your bake on instagram!

  30. Jo

    5 stars
    Hi Amanda, I love this recipe it is so tasty! However I wonder if you could suggest how I could get a less chewy crust? It made a gorgeous loaf, and had great oven spring compared to other loaves I have made, but i could barely chew through the crust, it was so very thick and chewy! Does the ratio of time with the lid on/ lid off the dutch oven affect this? Would love any insights you have :) thanks!

    • Katie

      I rub butter on the crust of my bread as soon as it comes out of the oven. It keeps the crust softer for those of us who don’t enjoy the rustic crunch.

    • Sherri Carter

      Hi. I place a large cookie sheet on the shelf below my dutch oven, and when I put the bread in the oven, I place a few ice cubes on the cookie sheet to create some steam, and also block some of the direct heat, and it has made all my crusts much easier to cut and chew.

  31. Zolene

    5 stars
    Thank you so much Amanda for the amazing recipe! I’ve just started out my sourdough journey and I’m so glad that my bread turns out so beautiful & tasted great! I’ve enjoyed baking this & the Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese bread. Shall make this often again for my family & friends!

    • Amanda Paa

      Yay! The photo you posted on Instagram of your bake was beautiful. Such a great crumb!

    • Casey G

      Hi Zolene. I think it helps to do longer, wider stretch and folds in a lightly oiled bowl. This seems to make the crust thinner in the end, and therefore less chewy. Good luck!

  32. Maureen

    5 stars
    Loved it! Great recipe, produced very tasty loaves. Light, reasonable spring and delicious nutty flavor. This was the first time I used my home milled spelt. No adjustments were necessary except maybe 50 grams more water. Will definitely make often. I half rye and half white starter, but otherwise used the recipe as written

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad you enjoyed the spelt sourdough!

  33. Stephanie

    When you say bread flour, do you mean white or wholewheat?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Stephanie! Looks like you are in the UK, bread flour in the US is equal to strong white flour in the UK.

      • Stephanie

        Thank you Amanda. Could I use wholewheat with the spelt instead do you think? Or maybe half white bread flour and half wholewheat bread flour? Thank you

        • Amanda Paa

          Hi! You’ll need to use strong white bread flour with spelt flour, as spelt flour is low in gluten therefore not strong enough to work without it in this recipe. The strong white bread flour provides the protein percentage needed to ensure the loaf has structure.

  34. Rick

    5 stars
    Yummy. Pretty good! I was wondering what I was going to do with all this spelt a friend gave to me. This is definitely going into my rotation.

    • Amanda Paa

      Great to hear, Rick! And what a great friend who gifts spelt flour.

  35. Gloria Miele

    Just got some spelt flour and looking forward to making. Is the sweetener essential to the recipe?

    • Amanda Paa

      I prefer it for balancing the flavor.

  36. Elyse

    5 stars
    This bread is so tasty! Definitely a keeper.

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad you liked it, Elyse!

  37. Larissa Nicodemus

    5 stars
    Another great recipe, Amanda! The nuttiness of the spelt is perfect for these cold winter days. Gives me all the hygge vibes :) I didn’t have KA bread flour, but used what I had and it still turned out well. Next time I’ll definitely use KAF though.

    • Amanda Paa

      Glad to hear it turned out well!

  38. Cynthia K

    5 stars
    Great recipe Amanda! Love the flavor. I was initially concerned that it was going to be hard to handle due to how sticky it started out, but it just kept improving with each set of stretch and folds. This will become a regular loaf for us!

    • Amanda Paa

      That’s great, Cynthia! Yes, the dough is a tad stickier at the beginning because spelt doesn’t have as much gluten, therefore elasticity, but as you said, through the stretch and folds it builds strength and gets tacky and smooth.

  39. Mb

    Where can I buy the starter