Our Favourite Spelt Bread Recipe (Using Bread Machine + Oven)
Posted on January 20, 2013
To our surprise, Robin and I discovered recently that we love spelt in breads, pastas, and other goods where it replaces conventional flours. We were surprised because we did not expect such a flavour difference. Since we had been enjoying the bread machine that we bought last year, we decided to try baking our own spelt bread just a few months ago. Initially, this was a failure, due to the recipes that we tried not being quite to our liking, and (even more crucially) due to the quickly-realised problem that spelt bread does not bake properly in bread machines. It is fine to use the machine to make the dough and put the dough through the first rise (so, load the machine and set it for “dough”). But then, you must remove the dough for the second rise, and bake it in a conventional oven. It is lovely if you follow this procedure.
The reason I am posting this recipe and these guidelines are because most of the dozens of recipes that you find when you Google Spelt and Bread Machine Recipes do not tell you this! People post these recipes and comment that their bread machine spelt bread is the best thing since … well … sliced bread. I do not know whether they have bread machines with super powers, or whether they are just lying. In our experience, which is now rich and varied, spelt dough in a bread machine rises like the Sun, but then craters catastrophically, so that you end up with a flat and too- dense loaf that is not very nice at all. Bread machines are fine, and very useful, for making the dough for a spelt loaf, but not adequate for baking the bread.
After a few failures with our bread machine, we thought to look for help on the website of the local Victorian company called Simply No Knead, from which we had purchased our spelt flours, and from which this recipe has been adapted (and only very gently modified). Here’s what we learned: “Quite often ancient grains like spelt will rise beautifully in your machine and then in the final bake will flatten out. For best results use the Dough setting-let the machine mix the dough and then use your oven to cook the bread.” Once we followed that guideline, we had no more problems.
Guidance we did not follow from SNK would be, firstly, that we do not put oil in our bread tin. The initial reason for this is because we forgot to do it! But then, we realised it was unnecessary, and we don’t like too much oil in our food, anyway. The bread has some oil in it already, and it never sticks, but slips easily from the tin. Secondly, we use more water, more flour, and more salt than their recipe calls for and, to us, these mild alterations create the perfect bread.
Our bread tin was purchased from Marg and Maree’s Baking and Breadmaking, which is just a few blocks from home, and we are currently using their flours, too. One of the owners there explained that we should never wash our bread tin, so we just wipe it out with a dry cloth when we are done with it. Good luck with your baking! (Click below on +Read more for Recipe.)
Ingredients and Cooking Tools
- Bread Machine
- Standard Sized Bread Tin (see note)
- 400 ml water (room temperature)
- 20 grams cold-pressed sunflower oil
- 300 grams Wholemeal Spelt Flour
- 300 grams White Spelt Flour
- 1 teaspoon demerara sugar (or, substitute honey)
- 1.5 teaspoons good quality salt
- 1 teaspoon bread improver (see note)
- 2 teaspoons dry active yeast
- Add ingredients to your bread machine in the order listed and set your bread machine for the Dough setting (ours takes an hour and a half to complete).
- When your dough is ready, remove it immediately onto a floured surface and separate into two halves.
- Form each half into a ball and place into your bread tin, side by side, so that the dough fills the tin.
- Leave the dough in a moderately warm room (or at least, not hot) for about half an hour, keeping an eye on it. We cover ours with a cloth to keep it clean and to give it some privacy 🙂 while it works its yeasty magic. Preheat your oven to 215C for a conventional Gas oven, 220C for an Electric oven, or 200C for a Fan-Forced oven.
- When the bread has doubled in size and is about 2.5 centimetres (one inch) from the top of the tin, it is ready to go in the oven on a mid-low rack so that the top does not burn. Set your kitchen timer for 25 minutes.
- The bread, when done, should look something like the loaf pictured here. Remove it from the baking tin immediately, onto a cooling rack. Allow it to rest for at least half an hour before slicing. Enjoy!
- About bread tins: The question of bread tin sizes is a vexed issue. Our bread-making shop describes our tin as a “Standard Bread Tin”, but there seems to be little consensus on what this means or how to identify such a tin. They told us that it weighs 680 grams, so it is really a “680 gram bread tin” since tins are described by the weight of the tin, not of the loaf. For simplicity they referred to it as a “700 gram bread tin”. Yet, with its heavy metal rod top frame and folded silicon-aluminium coated steel body, it actually weighs 740 grams. They also sell a much smaller and a much larger tin, but this is the one they generally recommend and sell the most of. It is intended to be used with 600 grams of flour, and in our experience this works well. The weight of the loaf would be something else again. An unambiguous description is that it its internal dimensions at the top of 108mm (4.25″) by 267mm (10.5″) with a depth of 105mm (4.2″). The sides are a little tilted, so the bread slides out instantly. The internal dimensions at the bottom are 95mm (3.7″) by 250mm (9.7″).
- About bread improver: Bread improver is “used in your bread to give the loaf a good texture, to help with the rising and keeping qualities,” according to Marg and Maree’s Baking and Breadmaking here in Melbourne. We use Simply No Knead’s Bread Improver, which lists the following ingredients: Non Genetically Modified Soy Flour, Bakers Flour, Ascorbic Acid, Enzyme (Amylase).
- About spelt: If you have celiac disease, you cannot eat spelt, because it does contain gluten. Having said that, apparently many people who are somewhat sensitive to regular wheats are able to digest spelt just fine. The complexities of wheat and all its varieties, as well as ancient versus modern grains, could take weeks or years of research to fully understand, and I don’t intend to try. However, I have read some information on spelt to learn more about it, and here is a link to a site that notes what the wondrous and wonderful Hildegard von Bingen had to say on the subject of spelt.