Spelt and honey loaf

Spelt and honey loaf

By
From
The Tivoli Road Baker
Makes
one loaf
Photographer
Bonnie Savage and Alan Benson

The spelt grain is small when harvested, with a very hard husk that is difficult to remove. In the removal process a significant amount of the grain is discarded and turned into cattle feed. The resulting low yields mean that spelt is more expensive to produce than wheat.

When we opened Tivoli Road I was keen to offer a loaf made with an alternative grain. I started experimenting with spelt, and I soon realised that honey beautifully complements the nutty and hearty flavours. We freshly mill the whole grain for this dough, increasing the nutrient profile and flavour. Happily, spelt is becoming less and less ‘alternative’ now.

This is my favourite bread; I love the taste and texture. It’s extremely versatile and will pair with anything from blue cheese to jam, but it’s also really good just with butter.

Starter build

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
30g Starter, using rye
30g wholegrain rye flour
30g water

Method

  1. Around 4–6 hours before you plan to mix your dough, combine the starter, flour and water for the starter build, mixing well to combine. You will use 50 g (1¾ oz) of this for the dough; retain the rest for maintaining your starter.

Dough

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
50g Starter
295g white spelt flour
100g wholegrain spelt flour
250g water
40g honey
8g salt
spelt flour, for dusting

Method

  1. At least 30 minutes before you plan to mix the dough, combine the flours and water in a large mixing bowl. Mix them with your hands until thoroughly combined, then cover with a damp cloth and set aside for the autolyse.
  2. When the starter is ripe and bubbly, mix it with the flour and water mixture, then mix in the honey. Sprinkle over the salt and finish mixing the dough. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for at least 30 minutes, before your first set of folds.
  3. Complete six sets of folds, resting the dough in between each one for 30 minutes.
  4. After your last set of folds, cover your dough with a damp cloth and leave to prove at room temperature for 2–3 hours.
  5. If you have multiplied the recipe, divide the dough into individual loaves before you pre-shape. Pre-shape the dough, cover with a damp cloth and leave it to rest on the bench for 15–20 minutes.
  6. When the dough has relaxed, shape the dough as desired, then place it seam side up in a lightly floured proving basket.
  7. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside for a few hours, or in the fridge overnight, until ready to bake.
  8. Preheat the oven to the maximum temperature and bake according to your preferred method. If using the Dutch oven, bake for 20 minutes at maximum temperature with the lid on, then take the lid off, reduce the temperature to 200°C (390°F) and bake for another 5 minutes, or until the crust is a lovely golden brown. If using a hearthstone, reduce the oven to 200°C (390°F) after you put the bread in, and check the loaf after 20 minutes. You want a deep golden brown crust, without burning. Because this dough contains honey it will caramelise faster, so it’s better finished at a slightly lower temperature.
  9. Once baked, tip the bread out of the pan onto a wire rack to cool. This bread is very good eaten about 20 minutes after baking, so it’s still warm inside.

Bakery notes

  • Spelt is closely related to wheat, although it has a higher proportion of gliadin proteins. This makes it good for bread making, because it produces extensive rather than elastic dough. Towards the end of shaping and folding, rather than springing back, the dough will just stretch until it breaks. Because of this, the dough usually requires an extra fold or two to build up strength.
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