The word for spelt in German is "Dinkel," a fun word for a grain that may be a bit easier to digest than regular wheat. Mixed with rye flour and leavened with sourdough, this is a terrific 100% whole grain bread with a light, nutty taste.
Spelt is a very old grain for northern Europe, dating back several thousand years. It can grow in colder weather than wheat, although it doesn't produce as much. Fallen out of favor by the 20th century, it has had a comeback in recent years. Due to its earlier resistance to several plant diseases, it is good for organic farmers, as well as having some purported health benefits.
It can be finicky to bake in large amounts, but for a home hearth, the results are good. Use regular, whole wheat flour or white, whole wheat flour if you cannot find whole-spelt flour.
- 1/2 cup/50g rye flour
- 3 tablespoons/40ml water
- 1 to 2 teaspoons/5ml sourdough starter (active)
- 3/4 cup/85g cracked rye
- 3/4 cup/170ml water
- Optional: 2 teaspoons/5g diastatic barley malt
- 1 1/2 cups spelt (flakes)
- 4 teaspoons/24g salt
- 1 1/4 cups/290ml water (boiling)
- Final Dough:
- All of the sourdough (minus 1 to 2 teaspoons for next batch)
- All of the porridge
- All of the soaker
- 6 3/8 cups/730g whole-spelt flour
- 1 tablespoon/10g vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons/5g active dried yeast (or instant yeast or 20 grams fresh yeast)
- 1 1/8 cups water (cold, add an ice cube or two)
The Day Before Baking
Mix the ingredients for the sourdough together until stiff paste forms. Cover and let it sit overnight at room temperature.
Around the same time, combine the cracked rye, water and diastatic barley malt in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for two hours, stirring often. By the time you are done cooking it, it should be dark brown and a bit sweet. You can let it sit overnight on the counter or in the refrigerator.
Also, place the soaker ingredients in a bowl and stir briefly. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature. You can also start this just three hours before mixing the final dough.
Place all the ingredients for the final dough in a large bowl. (If using active dry yeast, dissolve in part of the water before adding. If using instant, you may add it to the bowl directly.)
Knead in the mixer for eight minutes at slowest speed with the dough hook, then two minutes on the second-lowest speed.
Let it rest for twenty minutes, then knead again five minutes slow and two a little faster.
Let it rest for ten minutes. The dough should clear the wall of the bowl and look homogeneous (no large grain pieces) but not become shiny.
Divide the dough into two pieces of about 1 3/4 pounds apiece. Form into loaves (round or long as you prefer). Place them on parchment paper.
Brush the loaves with water. If you wish, you can decorate with a little flour using a stencil, as in the photograph ("S" for spelt).
Let the loaves sit for an hour while the oven preheats to 450 F / 230 C. Cover with a bowl or plastic wrap, so they don't dry out.
If you can, use a baking stone in the oven and set your oven up for steam.
Transfer the loaves to the baking stone. It is alright to transfer them still on the parchment paper, you can remove it as soon as the loaves firm up, about 20 minutes into baking.
Bake the loaves for at least an hour, or until the inner temperature of the bread has reached 190 F / 87 C or more. Turn the loaves halfway through so they do not over brown on one side.
Remove and cool for two hours before slicing.