Making your own sourdough bread doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult. If you don’t mind my quick, less-than-Pinterest-worthy photos, follow along for a step-by-step guide to having your own homemade spelt sourdough!
This recipe is inspired by the delicious spelt sourdough made by Berlin Natural Bakery – only it’s a whole lot cheaper and you don’t have to go all the way to Whole Foods to find it!
Start with the Starter
For this recipe, you’ll want to feed your starter in a 1:1:1 ratio – one part starter, one part flour, one part water. This spelt flour initially seems too thick when you mix it up, but as the water works through the flour it won’t stay that thick.
Feeding the Starter
You don’t have to do this in any particular order, but when I’m making bread, I first start my new starter.
I stir up my full starter jar (shown above left). Then I put my empty jar on the scale, zero it out, and add 10 grams of starter, 10 grams of flour, and 10 grams of water. Then I mix it up and set it aside.
Weight is important for making bread, so a kitchen scale is a must-have item. I got mine about a decade ago at TJ Maxx, but this is a really cute scale available in different colors.
How to Keep Your Starter Happy
I usually let my starter sit on the counter for a day (sometimes two if I’m really busy) before feeding it. If I will be away from home, I’ll put it in the refrigerator.
The 2nd day, since it’s now 30 grams of starter (see how that works? 10 g starter + 10 g flour + 10 g water = 30 g starter), I then add 30 g flour and 30 grams water, stir it up, then let it sit for a day.
The 3rd day, since it’s now 90 g of starter, I add 90 g flour and 90 g water, stir it up, and let it sit for a day. Then it’s ready to bake with (and to start this whole process over).
I like wide-mouth canning jars because it’s easiest to get the starter out of them with a spatula. I do sometimes have to “burp” the jar when the starter is at its fullest. But overall, keeping up with this sourdough starter is quick and easy.
Mixing Up the Bread Dough
This is the part where you take the pan out of your breadmaker and put it on the scale. My mom gave me this breadmaker at least 15 years ago so unfortunately it has a non-stick pan, which I don’t love. I eventually plan to upgrade to a breadmaker with a ceramic-coated pan which would be a whole lot safer and non-toxic.
Zero out the scale once the pan is on it, make sure the bread knife is in there, and add 450 grams of spelt flour. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt if you like – my family seems to prefer it with salt.
Next, add 200 grams of spelt sourdough starter. You don’t even have to add the ingredients in any particular order, this is just how I happened to do it today.
And finally, add 275 g of filtered water (ignore the photo – after I took it, I discovered that 275 g works better than 300). I use a ZeroWater pitcher. Our water isn’t bad, so I don’t have to change the filters often. If you live in a city though, you might have to change the filter more often.
My breadmaker has a “dough” function, and I let it work for 3 minutes until it starts to speed up. Then I take a spatula and make sure all the flour around the sides gets mixed in too.
Once everything is mixed, I move the dough aside with the spatula and grab the bread knife and pull it out. The dough will be about the consistency of pizza dough – sticky, but you can touch it without it sticking to your hand. It will also stay pushed to one side while you pull out the bread knife.
Bake It Up, Baby
This recipe doesn’t need to be kneaded at all – it just needs some extra time to rise. The breadmaker keeps the dough warm so it will rise a little faster.
I have found that the “French” bread setting works perfectly for this recipe. The actual French bread cycle takes 3 hours and 40 minutes. So I set my breadmaker to add a delay of 2 hours, for a total of 4 hours and 40 minutes. Your breadmaker’s French bread cycle may be slightly different – so you might have to adjust the time accordingly.
If you notice that your bread turns out flat on top (like mine is in the picture below) or even has a “crown” sticking up around the top edge, that means your sourdough was sitting too long, and the air bubbles started to pop (the dough deflated). Next time reduce the delay by half an hour and see if that fixes it. Your loaf should have a rounded top.
Even though the bread knife isn’t in there, the breadmaker will still go through its program of kneading the bread periodically. It’s sort of loud, so I try to avoid baking bread when anyone is sleeping.
Let It Cool Completely
This is possibly the only difficult part about making homemade spelt sourdough: waiting for it to cool. It will smell amazing and it will be hard to resist. But it’s a lot harder to slice when it’s hot, and your slices will look more shredded if you dig right in.
I usually let it sit overnight on a baking rack and slice it in the morning.
See the photo below, the way the loaf doesn’t have a rounded top? The delay was too long and the dough started to deflate while waiting to be baked. I have since experimented with a shorter delay time to give me a nice rounded loaf with a better “crumb.” I’ll try to get a new photo soon!
Homemade Sourdough Spelt Bread for Busy People
This sourdough spelt bread in the breadmaker may not be as pretty to look at as those artisan sourdough loaves all over social media, but it’s incredibly simple to make, it’s delicious, it’s economical, it’s so good for you, and it’s easy to fit into a busy schedule.
This recipe lasts our family of three for a few days – usually long enough to get another batch going without running out.