To make a batch of three loaves.
1500 grms of Spelt flour. We like “Brown Bread” which is 50:50 White Spelt and Wholemeal Spelt flour
1000 grms water
40 grms of olive oil
35 grms salt
2 tablespoons dried yeast
The night before........
make the “sponge”.
In a large china or plastic bowl put half the flour (750 grams), 2/3 water (667 grams), and one tablespoon of the yeast and stir into a thick batter. Put in a plastic bag (I use a pedal-bin liner) and put it somewhere reasonably warm (airing cupboard etc.)
Measure out the remaining flour (750 grms.) and add the salt. Mix the salt well into the flour as high concentrations of salt will kill off the yeast.
In a small bowl or jug put remaining 333 grams of warm water (ideally “blood” heat) and mix in the yeast. (Adding a ½ teaspoon of sugar helps the yeast to get going). Put to one side for 10-15 minutes.
Take the big bowl out of the bag and add the flour, foaming yeast mixture and the oil and mix in the bowl until all the ingredients are combined in an even dough. It usually seems a bit sticky and wet at this stage.
Turn onto a work surface and knead for 10 minutes, by which time it should be a smooth-surfaced ball. Leave for 10 minutes while you prepare the bread tins.
Lightly grease three bread tins. We use olive oil for this.
I dust the work surface with flour at this point and roll the dough onto the flour. Divide the dough into three and briefly knead each piece into a sausage shape and put into a tin. Dust with a small amount of flour and cover with a linen tea-towel and put in a warm place to rise. This takes between 1 and 2 ½ hours for the dough to double in volume and fill the bread tins to the top of the tins.
Meanwhile put the oven on “max” (220 C) and let it warm up. I have a roasting tray in the bottom of the over and put cup of water into the tray a few minutes before the bread goes in. This steams the bread and helps it rise in the oven without splitting. Not a strictly necessary step, but it does make the crust even crunchier.
Handle the risen bread in tins very gently and slide into the oven. Set a timer for 45 minutes and after 15 minutes or so reduce the temperature to 200 C if you do not like “scorched” crust. I love it so I leave the oven on full blast for the full 45 minutes. When they come out of the oven turn out of the tins and allow to cool on a rack. The bread should sound “hollow” to the tap on the bottom of the loaf if cooked through.
Tap water contains chlorine that is not good for yeast. It is a good idea to either use bottles water or draw tap water into a bowl or jug, cover with a tea-towel, and allow the chlorine to evaporate for 12 hours or more before using it.
The bread tins are known as 2 lb tins and are the common size in Lakeland or other kitchen and baking supply shops. A plastic “blade” with a curved edge to suit a bowl and a straight side for the work surface is the only special item I have for mixing and dividing the dough. I recommended getting one of these.
Personally I think yeast does not do well in contact with metal, so I do not like metal bowls, or metal implements, preferring plastic implements and china or plastic bowls.
Usually bread is given two “provings” before being put in the tins, Spelt does not seem to do well like this so I put it in tins after the single overnight prove and it seems to work out better.