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Spelt Sourdough Bread w/Mixed Seeds

February 29, 2016



One of the nice things about the blogging world is that you get to see what other bakers and cooks are doing and thinking about  foods. For a self-taught bread maker like myself, it is an invaluable window into the baking world of those who share similar experiences.   It’s even better when you can share some humor while you’re at it.  You’ll see what I’m talking about if you check out Angie’s Fiesta Friday.

The last several weeks have found me trying out spelt flour in sourdough bread and tortillas.  I had used it a couple of times before in regular bread but appreciated it’s flavor and qualities much more when I recently made 100% spelt flour tortillas as well as this sourdough bread.  It has won me over as a flour to keep in my kitchen.  Today I’m presenting a take on spelt sourdough with 3 kinds of seeds.  By coincidence Elaine and Ginger were also baking versions of sourdough bread with spelt flour in the ingredients. Their delicious looking loaves are more complex in flavor with their use of rye berries, oats, and seeds. It’s always very interesting to read as they generously share how they approach their breads.  They are two who take baking and cooking very seriously…  Meanwhile, I was taking a less complex route!

To get a better feel for using spelt I kept it simple and used a minimum of ingredients.   There are equal amounts of bread, spelt, and whole spelt flour.  I wanted to make sure I would get some decent gluten action. When I make sourdough bread,  I usually aim for a loaf with alveoli big enough to drive a truck through.    What I understand about spelt is that it is somewhat comparable to whole wheat flour in the amount of gluten it can develop.   So you bet I’m going to go for a high hydration percentage,  70.5% in this case.  I also thought about what effect the seeds might have on the developing gluten.  I read somewhere that even some of the ground components in whole wheat flour can cut gluten that’s trying to build up as you knead.  Who knows to what extent that’s true.  Perhaps if you knead for a long time it would make a significant difference.  However,  I have noticed in several recipes I’ve come across that nuts or seeds are not added until the middle or end of kneading.   None explained the reason for delaying the addition of these extra ingredients.  It occurred to me that  seeds or nuts would interfere with the dough and perhaps even cut some “strands” no matter how carefully it is stretched and folded.  So this dough had been proofing at least an hour before I carefully folded in the seeds.   This I believe, would give the dough some time to develop and strengthen.

This is a very wet and sticky dough that requires some deft handling in case you’re not used to it.  As the portions rested for the 1/2 hour before shaping, they flattened out to the form of a thick pancake.  Even at the end when I placed the finished dough in the oven, they flatten out on the baking stone.  As I misted them with water during the first 10 minutes of baking I could see them magically began their oven spring.



I underestimated the gluten potential in spelt. The holes came out larger than I expected.  The flavor and texture turned out very nice too.  Spelt flour adds a “sweet”flavor to the bread  and has very little if any of the bitter taste you find in whole wheat flour.  The toasted seeds added a nice nuttiness and bite.

I’ll just give a summery of the process with key points.  If you want more details, let me know, I’ll be happy to further elaborate.


For two medium size loaves:


1/2 to 3/4 Tablespoon starter (refreshed 8 to 9 hours before)

100 grams water

100 grams bread flour


Final Dough:

All the levain

600 grams water 80 degrees F.

300 grams bread flour

300 grams spelt flour

300 grams whole spelt flour

20 grams salt mixed with 35 grams water

150 grams mixed toasted seeds (I used 50-55 grams each of sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds)


  1. I made the levain the night before.  It was ready to use in about 10 hours in my 75 degree F. kitchen.
  2. The pumpkin and sunflower seeds were toasted in the oven. The sesame seeds were pan toasted over a stove.
  3. The levain was dispersed in the 600 grams water and the flours were mixed together then added to the water/levain.  All the flour was evenly moistened.  Autolyse lasted 1 hour.
  4. The salt and 35 grams water was mixed together, then squeezed into the dough. I then covered the dough and gave 6 turns over 3 1/2 hours.  I added the seeds during the turning phase after about 1 hour.
  5.  I took it out of the bowl and divided it into 2 portions.  Each was formed into a ball, covered and allowed to rest about 30 minutes.
  6. I shaped them,  then placed them in bannetons.
  7. Final proofing lasted 5 hours.
  8.  They baked in an oven pre-heated to 500 degrees.  I lowered the temp to 420 after 10 minutes.  During the first 10 minutes I also misted the oven several times with water to mimic a steam-injected oven.
  9. They baked in about 15-20 minutes.  I let them cool completely before slicing.


Here are the baker’s percentages if you’re interested.

Final dough

Bread flour  33.3%

Spelt flour 33.3%

Whole spelt flour 33.3%

Levain 24%

Water 70.5%

Salt  2%

Seeds 16.6 %


Bread flour 100%

Water 100%

Starter 14%








24 Comments leave one →
  1. February 29, 2016 3:53 am

    I love the flavor of spelt, and plan to branch out my break baking using this flour too. Your bread came out just beautifully!

  2. February 29, 2016 6:50 am

    Your loaf looks great, and I know exactly how wonderful the smell would have been 🙂
    That’s really interesting about adding nuts and seeds, I’ve never heard that before, but thinking about it, bread machines add nuts and seeds to the dough during the final knead..I’ll have to keep that in mind. Thank you – and thank you for including me in your post xx

  3. February 29, 2016 9:47 am

    I just read up about this…there is a suggestion that because seeds soak up liquid they affect the water levels in the loaf and can make it very dense. Apparently pre soaking the seeds is a good idea, or adding more water to the dough and leaving it to rise overnight. This makes complete sense, the bread I made this weekend was packed with seeds and the first attempt was very dense. I’ll try a different method next time.
    Thanks for the heads up 🙂

    • March 1, 2016 12:02 am

      Thank you very much Elaine! Baking bread can change the ambience of your kitchen very quickly, doesn’t it. And thanks for further tips about seeds. I remember making a bread with pinenuts and noticing how wet they had become in the final loaf. I really didn’t think much more about it. It does seem true that seeds or nuts can soak up a pretty fair amount of moisture.

      • March 1, 2016 6:46 am

        I’ll be experimenting with this, it’ll be interesting to see how it affects the loaf..

    • March 1, 2016 10:34 am

      It will be interesting to see what results. Whatever happens, I’m sure it will be tasty!

      • March 1, 2016 12:27 pm

        I hope so! I’ve soaked nuts before but never seeds and I’m not sure what the outcome will be. I can well imagine that the pine nuts weren’t too good because they’re already so soft…maybe I’ll just try soaking some seeds and see what they do before I put them into a dough..

    • March 1, 2016 11:29 pm

      I had toasted the pine nuts hoping they would come out crunchy in the bread. It may have made them more water absorbant!

    • March 3, 2016 2:41 am

      Yes, oops!

  4. February 29, 2016 2:22 pm

    I have never worked with spelt flour, but I have seen so many using it. Your bread looks so beautiful! 🙂

    • March 1, 2016 12:26 am

      Thank you Jhuls! You ought to try it out. It’s far behind whole wheat flour in popularity around here, but I notice that more stores are carrying it. Have a good week!

  5. February 29, 2016 2:40 pm

    I have never tried spelt but this bread is making me try my hands on this grain! Beautiful texture there 🙂

    • March 1, 2016 12:32 am

      Thanks Sonal! It looks and feels very much like a loaf using whole wheat flour does but with a slightly different taste. Spelt flour also works well in flour tortillas, so I think it’s very versatile.
      Thanks for your comment!

  6. Marcella Rousseau permalink
    February 29, 2016 5:44 pm

    I haven’t tried spelt yet because I’m still thinking of ways to use up my fava/garbanzo flour and my quinoa flour. I keep them in the fridge because I don’t want them to spoil. I found another recipe for Irish soda bread which I have been making a lot lately, which uses cream of tartar. It has a nice color and flavor which I didn’t expect. I don’t know why the recipe calls for cream of tartar because there are no eggs in this recipe. I thought cream of tartar also made cake recipes whiter. Yet, my bread recipe came out with a yellowish color! The author said the bread tastes good paired with cheese. I didn’t find that to be true. I tried it with two different cheeses. I’m still testing out this recipe but so far, I like it plain. It might be good with peanut butter. Anyway, good to see your post!

    • March 1, 2016 1:13 am

      I must say I haven’t seen an Irish soda bread with cream of tartar in the ingredients though I haven’t made very many in my day. It reminds me that St. Patrick’s day is coming up soon. Spelt flour was a surprise for me, because it hasn’t always been a flour of choice around here, and yet it has a very nice taste and works well for baking. We never saw it growing up, especially for a Mexican-American family like ourselves! I’ll be using it again soon in tortillas. I’ve already tried it and was happy with the result.
      Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

  7. February 29, 2016 6:44 pm

    Great minds think alike, or so they say 😉
    Your loaf looks amazing, I love those big holes! I’ll have to give this a try, and pronto!

    • March 1, 2016 1:37 am

      Concerning minds, I’ll take any compliment that comes my way( ha! ha!)
      I’m glad I’ve been trying out spelt flour, I find it very tasty and versatile. I get the impression that it is much more common “across the pond”. But I think it’s slowly gaining more popularity in the states.
      Thank you Ginger!

    • March 1, 2016 11:30 pm

      Inspiration is a two way street!

  8. March 1, 2016 1:38 am

    I love using spelt and its nutty bread. In fact I tried a version with sunflower seeds and it was quite dense. Just read Elaine’s comment and it makes sense why it would have happened. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    • March 1, 2016 11:44 pm

      Thanks for co-hosting this week’s Fiesta Friday! Yes, I find it’s a pretty versatile flour to use. It also never occurred to me what Elaine brought up about the seeds. I would never have thought about it that way.

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