The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Spelt/Rye bread

itai's picture

Spelt/Rye bread

Hi people,

I'm trying to bake some bread for someone with really (really) strict dietary restrictions due to an illness that has arisen recently. Her nutritionist says she needs to avoid pretty much everything I'm used to using for baking (I'm quite a beginner...). I would love if somebody could point out a few recipes I could try out, preferably easy since I'm quite the beginner. Here are the restrictions: 

Things she is not allowed to have: store bought yeast, almost all kinds of flour and grain, almost all kinds of sweeteners, salt, and many more things which I'm not sure are relevant but will be glad to specify if needed.

Things she is allowed to have: Spelt flour, possibly whole rye flour, water, dates and possibly date-based sweeteners like date honey, raisins, and other things which again I'm not sure what's relevant...

I was thinking of trying something with a spelt and/or rye starter to eliminate the need for yeast, and the same flours for the main dough as well.

If anyone has any ideas for the starter or the final bread, she and I will be extremely grateful.

Thanks in advance,


baliw2's picture

There are so many other things you could make for this person besides bad bread. You have eliminated everything that goes into it. How about a hot bowl of soup? Or maybe, a lentil loaf?

pmccool's picture

Things like amaranth, teff, quinoa, buckwheat, nut flours, bean flours, etc.?  If so, you could make bread with those, using allowable ones to build and maintain a sourdough starter.  Alternatively, you could go the yeast-water route.  Neither of those involves purchased yeast.  Depending on the individual's sensitivities, you could use binders such as guar gum, xanthan gum, or psyllium husk in place of the missing gluten.

It's probably best to get a list of the allowable foods and begin building a diet around those.  That will save you having to go down a number of dead ends.  Sounds like quite the challenge!


drogon's picture

You can make a spelt sourdough relatively simply. Get some organic wholegrain spelt flour, then 50/50 it with water for a few days and it ought to burst into life. (ie. start with 100g spelt, 100g water day 1, stir it up, leave loosely covered for 24 hours, and do that for 3-4 days - tip half out (make pancakes, etc. with it) and there you are. Bulk it up by taking 20% of the mother and adding double that of spelt flour and water for the final mix - e.g. to get 160g of starter, take 32g of mother and add in 64g spelt and 64g water. Top-up the starter with 16g spelt and 16g water. If you make it regularly you might want to keep ~300g of starter in the jar and just use it directly from the jar.


But spelt is funny stuff - it's relatively low gluten and has a tendency to "flow" when shaped. I make my spelt loaves with 70% white spelt and 30% wholegrain spelt. (and honey which wouldn't be appropriate here) just treat it like any other what based sourdough, but start with 50% hydration and knead it well. Then knead it again. I let mine bulk-ferment for about 9 hours before shaping, proving and baking - prove in a banneton (which I use) or even a tin which will stop it turning into a pancake when you tip it out of the banneton.... Depending on the sourdough activity, It shouldn't need more than an hour-1.5 hours proving. Check it regularly and its better to bake under proved than over.

A quick recipe might be: 250g white spelt + 150g of wholegrain spelt (or just 400g of whatever spelt you can get), 200-220g water, 6g salt and 160g spelt starter. mix,knead, rest 10 mins., knead, then leave covered in a cooler part of the kitchen overnight. Turn out, shape/fold and prove in a tin, then slash and bake - 250C for 10 minutes with whatever you use to get steam in the oven, then 200C for another 22. Turn out and let go cold before slicing. Any sugar in the mix (honey, syrup, etc.) will make it darken, but be brave :)

Remember to dust a banneton with spelt flour if you use one!

Hope your friend gets better!



Honey Spelt Sourdough

Honey spelt Loaf proved in a banneon - single slash lengthways as it went into the oven.

itai's picture

I have a few test loaves I've left to rise overnight, hopefully they will work out, we'll see in the morning!

Gordon, I'll try yours starting tomorrow, the one in the picture looks really nice! I'm trying to use the water left over from soaking dates as sweetener instead of honey, do you have any experience with something of the sort? Will it work out as is, or will I need to change some quantities?

Thanks a lot everyone!


drogon's picture

Well, don't tell my customers, but I ran out of honey once, so used the scrapings in the honey jar with some agave and it seemed to work just as well... (and no-one noticed!) The quantity of honey counts as water in my mix (I use runny honey), so if you reduce that, then increase the water a little. Or maybe try reducing the date-water by simmering it for a bit to concentrate the sweetness without adding too much extra liquid?

You might find you don't need any sweetener anyway - it just seems that a honey spelt loaf is quite a common thing over here, so that's what I started making.  I like it - I find that spelt on its own has a sort of "earthy" taste and just a little bit of honey takes that edge off.

It's just a shame spelt is so expensive right now )-: Double the cost of wheat due to the floods we had last year I'm told. (and this year isn't looking much better in parts of Somerset)

Re-reading my post, I didn't put honey in the mix - I normally make double that quantity for 2 large or 3 smaller loaves and would use 410g of water plus 60g of runny honey, so there's plenty of scope for playing with quantities. e.g. start with 200g of water and 30g of the date-water (or a little less to start with) and see how you get on.


pkake's picture

Thats a good idea of reducing down the date water into a thicker consistency.  I have also though about using a soaked fig water for a starter in place of water or pineapple juice (or other liquid).  Do you have any thoughts on that?  

Also using honey in baked goods, have you read/heard about the effect baking has on the enzymes in honey?  I have been steering clear of using it in things I will bake until I have time to do further investigating on it.

drogon's picture

in general I do not want to add sweeteners of any kind into my breads. (enriched doughs excepted!), however  I make a honey spelt because it's a fairly common type of loaf to buy here (UK). Typically the bigger commercial bakeries would use "bakers honey" - which is not something I'm interested in as I feel it's not got the quality I'm after. I think spelt is nice, but some people have found it a somewhat "nutty" or even "earthy" taste, so a little bit of honey lightens it a bit.

Typically in 800g of nixed white/wholemeal spelt flour (+340g of starter) I'd put 60g of honey and 410g of water. (12g salt) Those bake into 3 small or 2 large loaves. I am considering dropping the honey though - it's expensive which already adds to the expense as spelt is more than 2x the cost of wheat right now.

I know (from making mead many years ago) that overheating honey does make it lose some taste/flavour, so putting it into bread may well affect it, but I also know that the finished loaves still have a nice (but mild) honey aroma to them - it's dependant on the honey source though - the local stuff is stronger and more "honey" like than some of the imported organic stuff I've used (which seems to have a more eucalyptus type flavour - I guess it all depends on where the bees go!) So yes - the enzymes may well do something to the dough - what, I don't really know, but I do know that whatever its doing (if its doing anything) doesn't appear to be bad... so far!

And on the starter front - flour & water. I've never needed fruit juice, syrups, grapes, rasins, or anything else. Flour and water has always worked for me.