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Overnight Devon Honey Spelt (sourdough)

The addition of white spelt makes it a much lighter loaf and takes away the heavier texture sometimes associated with traditional wholemeal spelt bread. Great for people who have a bit of a wheat intolerance or want something just a little different.

It requires an initial rise of about 9 hours so is well suited to making the night before.
It's also worthwhile finding a local apiarist if possible. Use runny honey, but if all you can get is set honey, then warm it very gently and it'll be runny again. You get the benefit of your local flora and fauna and help support local businesses.

I make this three times a week for a local community wholefoods shop and it does seem to go down very well.

I maintain a spelt starter fed with white spelt at 100% hydration - that's equal quantities of flour and water. A traditional (white) wheat based sourdough starter will work here too with obviously less benefit to those who're wheat intolerant. The 320g of starter used here would come directly from my jar kept in the fridge, then the jar would be topped up with 160g of flour and 160g of water and put back into the fridge.

This recipe makes 3 smaller blomers or 2 larger ones. Bakers percentages are given to allow you to easilly scale the recipe to your needs.

  • Flour: (100%) 800g total:
  • -- Comprised of White spelt (63%) 500g, and wholemeal spelt (37%) 300g
  • Sourdough starter at 100% hydration: (40%) 320g
  • Local honey (8%) 64g
  • Salt (1.5%) 12g
  • Water (51%) 410g

Mix the flours and salt together in a large bowl, add the honey, starter and water. Mix with your hand and when it's all brought together, tip it out and further mix on the bench. I do this with just one hand/arm - push a lump away, fold back in and turn. Do this for a minute or two until you're sure it's all well mixed together. No need to dust the bench with flour, use a dough scraper if it's a bit sticky.

Leave it a minute or two during which time you can make sure the bowl is clean - a very light dusting of white spelt then just rub it round with your hand will bring off any last bits of sticky dough. No need to wash it as we'll use it later for the rising.

Now knead the dough. Use your favourite technique. I tend to knead for a minute or 2, then leave it a minute or 2 and do this 3 times. Even though spelt is lower in gluten, it's going to get a nice slow overnight rise, so no real need to go overboard with the kneading.

On the last kneading, form it into a ball, then a teaspoon of vegetable oil in the bowl will help it come out, transfer the dough to the bowl, cover and leave in a draught free place overnight, or for about 9 hours. I start mine between 9 and 10pm and am up at 7am to continue the process. It doesn't have to be in a very warm place either - and too warm a place will make it over ferment and you'll end up with a very sticky wet mess that won't make a good loaf at all.

It should rise well - and the honey will give the sourdough yeasts a boost too.

In the morning, tip it gently out of the bowl and divide it into 2 or 3 - and here's a little tip - if making 2 larger loaves, you'll find that the dough quantity is a little more than comfortably fits into a small banneton (when fully proved), so take off 100-120g form into a ball and leave aside... (bakers treat, see later!)

Form the 2 or 3 pieces of dough into a ball and leave to rest for a momnent while you get the bannetons ready - a good dusting of white spelt or sifted rye four is needed.

Then shape the balls into batons - I give them a dusting of flour, turn them over, gently flatten into a square, then fold the top over, lift the sides, stretch then fold into the middle, then fold the lot back on itself. Hard to describe here, but simply stretching it and folding it in half, then putting it in the banneton, seam side up will suffice.

Cover the bannetons and leave to prove. This will take up to 2 hours depending on the activity of your sourdough and room temperature. Don't over prove though - better if they're a little under proven when they go into the oven.

If you cut off that little ball when making two loaves - then this becomes the bakers treat! Make a small fougasse. Dust well with flour, gently flatten, cut a few slits in it, stretch it out and put it on a baking tray while the oven heats up then bake in the oven for 10 minutes or so, and enjoy before the rest of the house gets up :-)

Put a small tray in the bottom of your oven and heat your oven to 250°C. It's a good idea to do this well in advance to make sure the oven is evenly heated.

When the dough has proved, turn it gently out onto a baking sheet or onto small trays (lined with baking parchment or silicone sheets). This is a very soft dough, so treat it gently but work quickly. Make 3-4 slashes over the top - as deep as you dare, then into the oven. A small glass of water poured into the tray you put at the bottom will create steam and help with the development of the crust - keeping it soft while the bread "springs", then helping it bake.

After 11 minutes, turn the oven down to 200°C and leave for another 21 minutes. I usually turn the trays round at this point too to make up for any uneven cooking in the oven.

At the end of the 21 minutes, check for readyness. Don't take them out too soon though - the addition of honey to the dough will slightly caramelise on the crust making it darker than you may be used to. You're looking for the usual hollow sound with a dark well-fired crust. The exposed bread in the cuts should be a little lighter, with a hint of a shine!

Take out, leave to cool and enjoy!