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Spelt and Rye Country Bread by Heidi Hedeker

Spelt and Rye Country Bread by Heidi Hedeker

By: Terra Brockman (Read Bio)

Spelt and Rye Country Bread by Heidi Hedeker
This recipe and all of the step-by-step photos are by Heidi Hedeker, certified master baker and a pastry chef instructor with Kendall College since 2004. She is an associate professor there, and working on a baking program for kids with immigrant roots called ‘It Bakes a Village’). Heidi loves to make this “somewhat refined wholegrain” country bread at the change of the seasons, as cool weather returns.
Yield: 2K of dough – enough for two large boules as shown, or two large sandwich loaves

Ingredients and Instructions

Levain (make 2-8 hours before mixing)
Liquid sourdough starter 50g
Spelt Flour 50g
Water 50g
Mix together and allow to ferment at room temperature (72F) until doubled in size, and bubbling.

Final Dough - Autolyse Step (30-60 minutes)
Sifted Artisan Bread Flour 500g
Spelt Flour 450g
Dark Rye Flour 50g
Water 720g
Starter 150g
1) Combine all ingredients on a stand mixer or by hand, until all of the flour is moistened.
2) Cover and allow to ferment until risen and light (about 30-60 minutes)

Bassinage (dissolved salt; add to risen autolyse to finish the dough)
Salt 20g
Water 30g
Dissolve the salt and water together after mixing the autolyse and set aside.

Final Dough - All Steps (approx. 4 hours)
1) Mix levain starter and allow to ferment until doubled in volume, 2 to 8 hours. The amount of time depends on the strength of your liquid sourdough starter – the levain should be risen and bubbly.
2) Combine the ingredients for the bassinage (the salt/water mixture) which will be added in as the last step. Holding back the salt and including it with some of the water creates open rivulets in the finished bread. When mixing the bassinage into the levain-risen autolyse (below), the dough will appear curdled and slosh around in the mixing bowl. It will come together as it is mixed, with a distinctive texture – maintaining the rivulets throughout the bread loaf, after baking.
3) Mix the levain with the final dough ingredients (except the bassinage, which will be added after the autolyse rests and rises). Mix the levain for 3 minutes on first speed if using a stand mixer, or just knead everything together until all of the flour is moistened, if mixing by hand. Allow to rest, covered, until the autolyse shows signs of leavening from the action of the levain.
4) Mix on first speed for about 8 minutes more, adding in the dissolved salt/water mixture (bassinage) slowly during the mixing process. The final dough will appear smooth and slightly sticky.
5) Allow to bulk ferment 60-90 minutes, until doubled in volume, giving one fold during the bulk fermentation.
6) Shape as desired. I used coarse rye meal to line the bannetons, and it gave a very nice texture and appearance.
7) Proof until doubled. The loaves can be proofed at room temperature or placed into the refrigerator overnight, covered. They will continue to proof under refrigeration. You know they are ready to bake when approximately doubled, and if you press on the surface of a loaf, your finger leaves an indentation.
8) Turn the loaves onto a baking stone or into a Dutch oven. Bake in a pre-steamed oven at 475F for 20 minutes, then lower heat to 450F to complete the bake. It should take almost one hour to bake the 1K loaves. You can use a common meat thermometer to check the internal temperature – this should read close to 212F, the temperature of boiling water. This indicates that much of the water has baked out of the loaf. The ‘hollow loaf’ test is checking for the same thing – water that has evaporated from the baked product.
9) Cool on a rack or someplace with airflow around the loaf. Allow to cool fully before slicing.

Tips from Heidi:

  1. This bread needs to have a really active starter. If you see that the starter isn't actively leavening the autolyse after 30-60 minutes, it’s fine to add some instant yeast to boost it.

  2. The spelt levain coaxes the unique earthiness of this flour into expression. But, as Cecilia says, spelt flour is a ‘wild mustang’ and it must be handled with love and care. The formula in this recipe is a good place to start – there is enough structure using the Sifted Artisan 80% extraction bread flour (Glenn/Warthog) to keep the 100% extraction Spelt Flour tamed, but more than enough of the spelt to let it assert its own flavor.

  3. Spelt flour on its own can become sticky – its gluten needs to be coaxed with a preferment, not stretched through excessive mixing.

  4. Lining your bannetons with wholegrain rye flour (wheat germ works, too), will provide the taste, texture, and nutrition a wholegrain bread can give. This makes great pan loaves, too! Good for sandwiches of all kinds.

Posted on September 21 2020