Help: troubleshooting my first ever wholegrain spelt sourdough loaf
Hi everyone! Here’s a complete and absolute novice in the art of sourdough baking. However I’ve been fermenting many other things for a few years.
I finally took the plunge and created a rye starter over 10 days using home milled organic rye. Once it was solidly rising to double every day it was time to bake.
I made the 100% wholegrain spelt loaf you see in tje pictures. I researched many recipes and finally followed one to the T but found a few things I’d love help with for the next time:
I didn’t get much of a rise, the loaf (free form) ended quite flat (maybe I overproof it? Maybe I didn’t develop the gluten properly?)
The crumb is quite compact (same reason I guess)
The dough, when I was mixing the ingredients, was very sticky and not so flexible like I’ve seen other spelt doughs on videos. It was tough as heavy (maybe it was too dry? But if too dry... why so sticky?)
Here’s where I think maybe things could have gone wrong:
I don’t have a good mill and the flour was somewhat coarse (but not super coarse, it just wasn’t as fine as store bought flour)
I don’t know how to be aware of overproofing? The first bulk rise was 3.5h and it was already showing a few bubbles on the surface. At that point I did an overnight proof in the fridge (at 7 degrees celsius) and I baked in the very early morning.
The ingredients were:
450g spelt flour (already cold after milling)
120g active rye starter
The dough was kept at 20 celsius all the time.
I did 3 pinch and folds with 30min resting in between. Then 3h bulk proof, then I shaped and off to the fridge overnight.
I baked at 210 celsius for 30min in a covered duch oven, then 15min uncovered.
The taste of the bread is AMAZING, though!
Any help, tips would be so welcome! I’m determined to succeed and for me a long fermentation is very important as I’m just reintroducing gluten back after years of avoiding it :)
Huge thanks to all!
That looks like a very challenging recipe to take on for a newbie, hats off to you for doing it. Wow, using a 100% wholegrain spelt not finely milled along with 10 days old SD starter, that is like asking for trouble even for a weekly baker, it gives me a headache thinking about taking on this challenge myself. Sorry for not being helpful here, hope some experts will chime to offer some guidance. Good luck!
Hahaha! Your comment actually made me feel so good! I didn’t realise this was meant to be a hard one and so I’m so proud I actually got a very nice tasting first loaf! 😁 Now, I can see the first trouble as u mention the young starter. NOTED! :D
Do you think I should keep the starter on the countertop and feed every day? Or will it still mature in the fridge with frequent (twice a week) uses? :)
Sorry I am the wrong person to ask about SD starter questions. I hope some experts will chime to help soon.
Don't expect the same results for spelt as wheat flour. Second of all its wholegrain spelt to-boot. And lastly I'll reserve all judgement for the crumb shot and taste report.
Thank u Abe. The crum didn’t open but it’s soft and nice and the taste is definitely delicious!
The loaf turned out lovely. Did a fine job with it the whole Spelt. Very good job. Would also like to see a crumb shot. Spelt seldome makes an large open crumb but it can stretch and rise to the point of fluffy-too-much, where the crust makes a shell and the crumb is almost impossible to cut slices as it easily tears right and left.
Spelt will have a longer working time as it is full of fiber and can buffer the acids made during fermentation. So if it rises to double during the final proof, it can recover quickly from a reshape. Spelt is a lovely grain to work with and it does take longer to hydrate the flour than regular whole wheat. That goes for all cooking with spelt, let the flour hydrate 20 - 30 minutes after moistening before continuing a project. Combining it with rye flour is like a happy marriage, they complement each other in the dough.
The rye starter will bennefit more if allowed to reach peak height and not just double. Doubling can be crippling if used as a gauge to judge the starter but "doubling" can be used as a reference point. See how far it can rise and keep track of the temperature. Rye starters stiffen more than wheat starters at 20°C to the point of doming and not falling down like wheat starters. One way to check on the dome is to lightly prod it and see if it is hollow underneath (already fallen.) The aromas will also increase pleasantly once the first dome is achived. It is good to know how high the rye starter will go at 100% hydration, it's limits, before starting to chill it. The rye starter will act differently in the fridge and after 8 hours. It tends to act inactive rising very little and stiffening up. Which is great as one can use a smaller jar than with a wheat starter. (Wheat starters need at least 5x head space.)
To chill, a domed rye starter, say you have a 250ml marked container. It is filled up to the 100ml mark with freshly fed rye starter. Let it rise up to the 150ml mark before chilling with a loose lid. (The next day, tighten the lid somewhat.). Then it is good for at least a week or two after the passing of about three days. If needed before three days, take out some and let it warm up, smell and taste "ready" (it won't rise much) before Building or feeding it. The thicker the starter (the more flour to water fed) the longer it will hold out in the fridge.
Wow Mini, thank u so much for this mini lesson on spelt and starters! I’m happy to say I’ve got my 3rd attempt bulk proofing atm and followed your tips :) let’s see! It looked promising !
I thought spelt was high protein but low gluten. Combined with whole grains that would result in spread.
You can bake pan loaves if you want more of a shape.
You can also compensate for low gluten and whole grain (sharp bits can damage gluten) by using scalds. Scalds help get moisture into whole grains using heat. They also gelatinize grains which means they trap moisture. They also breakdown starches, which means easier to eat but also ferments faster because there is more sugar for yeast to eat.
Yudane = to a % of whole grains in the recipe, add equal weight of boiling water, stir, cover and leave overnight. Integrate into the autolyse or the dough. ex. start with 100-200g of flour
Tangzhong = to 5-7% of whole grains, add 5x weight in water or milk, stir in a saucepan until forms a paste, let cool, then integrate into autolyse or the dough.
Scalds do change the crumb. You can get a creaminess which I quite enjoy. The aeration may be less holely than instagram sourdoughs, but it should be stable, somewhere consistent, and non gummy.
I'm a big fan of the technique esp when I mill whole grains.
These are amazing tips, thank you! I was considering experimenting with scalds so will definitely try one of these. Super thanks for such detailed instructions!
3 factors that helped to improve 90+% wholegrain loaves that I have been working on:
1. Sift and regrind the bran until you can get about 7% bran left (using a coffee grinder makes this possible). Use all of the bran-no need to throw it away.
2. Autolyse with flour, water and salt if overnight in refrigerator.
3. Use long folds and laminate instead of stretch and folds.
Of course, be sure your starter (22% of total flour?) is refreshed and at the peak. Try baking a pan loaf and see it the resulting bread is less dense.
Joe, these 3 tips are really useful! I especially love the idea of re grinding the bran with my coffee grinder. While I buy myself a proper mill, I also thought of trying the mill at the shop where I get my grains from. Although I prefer a fresh grind, this might also be an option.
I will also make sure next time I do an exact 22% of starter, great tip! Thank u!
My grinder is a Komo but if I were to buy now, I would get the Mockmill (also cheaper) which I hear grinds more finely. Don't get a superfine sieve because you'll hardly get anything to pass through it. Ask around on the % starter others are using for their 100% whole grain doughs. I have been using 110-120 gr starter (about half/half whole rye-25g and King Arthur bread flour-35g) for 500 gr of total whole grain flour (my loaf is about 93% ww).
The following video helped me a lot:
The bulk ferment seems a little short. Roughly it might take 5-8 hr depending on the temp at the time.
It is such a pleasure to read of others doing these mostly whole grain loaves.
Joe, once again, thank you! That video was an absolute pleasure to watch 😍 I’m going to try and follow his method with the spelt and see what comes of it. I understand my starter is young so “she” won’t give a huge volume (yet! 😜)
Thank you also for the mill recommendation. I was actually thinking of a komo (https://www.agrieuro.de/getreidemuhle-komo-magic-aus-massivem-buchenholz-und-edelstahl-motor-250w-p-11827.html) but have seen many bakers using and praising the Mockmill, so I’m considering it too. Would you happen to know the difference between the 100 and the 200?
I’ll also try a longer bulk ferment (I’m keen on that!) but I keep hearing that overproofing is a problem and On my first loaf I was rather worried I’d overproof it (I have no idea how to know if it is) but my kitchen at this time stays at a stable 20 to sometimes 21 celsius throughout the day. I guess that’s good for a longer bulk proof :) I’ll be more daring in the next one which I hope to make tomorrow.
Also, now I’m researching more, I’m convinced my first dough was too dry. Will make sure this time I make an 80% hydration.
Off we go again! :)
I failed to note that your grain is spelt which has (I think) quite a different gluten characteristic than a hard red wheat berry. The video reference and the techniques used apply to hard wheat . It would seem that the 2 spelt links provided below would be much more relevant for your goals. If you go with the video, use the usual hard red or white wheat.
PS- I am not familiar with the difference on the Mockmills.
Nice! Thank you, mini oven! :D
I’ve had some luck with 100% wholegrain spelt as well 100% whole spelt sourdough
Have you ever thought of making a YT video over the entire process? 20 min or so? It would be very beneficial!! Your bakes are so amazing!!
Thank you Joe. I’ve only made a couple of more comprehensive videos, they take a lot of time and effort and I don’t really have a equipment to do them well.
This one is my 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread
100% Spelt Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread this is a post of another all spelt loaf if you’d like to try something enriched. You can follow the video above but use the recipe in this thread.
Your recipes are amazing! Super pro level!
Nothing pro about my formulas, you can do them too.