Spelt Sourdough from Scratch

Sourdough is one of those things I thought I’d never be able to make.  I mean, I’ve never liked baking, let along baking bread from scratch.  And sourdough?  That must be super hard.  But the more I read about traditional nutrition, and how much sprouting and fermenting foods is beneficial for us, I decided I wanted to learn how to make sourdough for our family.  And I wanted to make it with sprouted spelt flour (read more about that here).

This sounded intimidating to me, a non-baker.  But, it has been a wonderful thing to learn how to make fresh, nutritious bread for our family to enjoy, and to take it up a notch by making sourdough.  Below I have given my simple recipe for making a basic sourdough bread from scratch.

I tried buying a dried sourdough starter online first.  After wasting a whole lot of flour, it did not survive.  It smelled more like yogurt than sourdough or beer, so I knew it had gone bad. I also got a frozen starter from a friend which I tried to revive.  When I thawed it, it smelled great.  But after a few days, it too smelled like yogurt.  Was it our house?  Did we have some weird strains of yeasts that were overpowering our starter?  I am not sure.  But now we have moved to a new house, and I bought a live sourdough starter that is well reviewed, and so far I am impressed.  I only remember to feed this starter about once a week when I bake.  Otherwise it sits happily in the fridge.  I believe it’s doing just fine because it smells great, looks spongy, and it working in my bread. I bought this starter online.

So, on to how to use this sticky stuff to make bread that my husband and I AND my kids like.  Here are some simple instructions!  Try to get a sense of how to do this without getting crazy about every little measurement.  I don’t like measuring, hence the not baking, but I’ve done this a few times and now can whip up the dough without measuring much.  That’s always my goal!

  • First, I take a large glass, ceramic, or plastic bowl and add 1-1.5 cups of water. If you want a smaller loaf, start with 1 cup, if you want a larger cup, start with 1.5 cups.
  • I take a large serving spoon and stir in a big glop of starter.  I’d say it’s about third of a cup.  Use this much if your home is warm.  If it’s cooler, you can use more, up to about a half a cup or so.  Again, I hate measuring.

  • Add 1.5 teaspoons of salt.  I always use Celtic sea salt.  Sometimes I add a squirt of raw honey.
  • Stir everything up till nice and smooth, then add in your flour.  I literally just dump in some sprouted spelt and sprouted wheat flour, maybe about half a cup each.  Start stirring, and you can continue to add more flour until it gets hard to stir.

  • At this point, when it just starts getting difficult to stir, I cover the bowl with plastic wrap or lid, and set aside for 10 minutes to let the flours soak up the water.

  • After 10 minutes, add a little more flour and start working the dough with your hands.  I suggest dipping your hands in clean water every couple of minutes to keep them from getting covered with dough.  The dough should start coming together and taking the shape of a ball.
  • Now I start to knead the dough.  I like to get the kneading done all at once, so I don’t have to do it several times.  I spend about 10 minutes kneading the dough, adding more flour or water if necessary.  The dough should start to feel a bit stretchy and smooth.

  • After I am done kneading, I flip the dough over to expose the smooth side upward, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to proof (sit) for at least 8 hours or overnight.

  • After proofing, I get an empty loaf pan, line it with a clean cloth, sprinkle some flour over it and set it next to my work area.  I then take the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface.  I shape the dough into a loaf, and place it in the lined loaf pan.  This is just to allow the dough to proof for an additional hour in the proper (loaf) shape before baking.

  • Allow the dough to proof for up to one hour in the line loaf pan.  During this time, preheat your over and a dutch oven or other covered baking vessel.

  • Remove your preheated baking vessel from the oven, sprinkle it with a bit of flour and/or cornmeal, and gently drop the dough into the baking dish.  I often mess this part up, as I did in these pictures, but it’s ok.  The bread still turns out yummy and prettier than most bread from the store!  Make sure your oven rack is on the middle or middle-lower position. I also usually score the top of the dough.

  • I bake the bread at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes COVERED.  I then remove the lid and bake it for another 20 minutes at 400 degrees F.
  • Remove the bread from the oven, turn it out onto a cooing rack, and allow to cool 30-40 minutes before slicing.

  • Serve warm slathered in grass fed butter.

Give it a try and let me know if you have questions and share your results!

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