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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m so glad you’re enjoying the Spelt Sourdough! Thank you for the kind note!
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?
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.
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!
Hi Casey! I’m so glad you like this recipe and it was easy to follow! Enjoy more sourdough baking. :)
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!
Such a beautiful photo you posted of your bake on instagram!
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!
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.
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!
Yay! The photo you posted on Instagram of your bake was beautiful. Such a great crumb!
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!
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
So glad you enjoyed the spelt sourdough!
When you say bread flour, do you mean white or wholewheat?
Hi Stephanie! Looks like you are in the UK, bread flour in the US is equal to strong white flour in the UK.
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
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.
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.
Great to hear, Rick! And what a great friend who gifts spelt flour.
Just got some spelt flour and looking forward to making. Is the sweetener essential to the recipe?
I prefer it for balancing the flavor.
This bread is so tasty! Definitely a keeper.
So glad you liked it, Elyse!
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.
Glad to hear it turned out well!
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!
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.
Where can I buy the starter
Hello! You can purchase a sourdough starter here.