Spelt Flour In A No-Knead, And A Helpful Handling Idea

-A.J.

I recently decided to start experimenting with flours other than “regular” wheat flour, so I purchased some Spelt flour, Rye flour, and Barley flour.

First up:  Spelt flour.

spelt bread 171230

Pictured is the No-Knead recipe, substituting out 30% of the Bread flour and using Spelt instead.

Notes On “2017 No Knead Tweaks”: 

When I started making No Kneads I was baking them at 450F. I’m now using 460F. In Lahey’s book “My Bread” he calls for 475F.

Lahey calls for preheating the oven for 30 minutes. I try to shoot for an hour, which is much longer than I had been preheating the oven. (It had been as little as 15 minutes. Now I don’t think that’s enough time to really get the whole oven hot.)

For the final proofing I’ve been coating the bowl with a neutral spray oil, then dusting the bowl with rice flour. More on that further down this post.

I try to slash the dough a little after it gets into the hot dutch oven. It’s been my experience that I get better and more consistent rise that way.

I’m going to update the No-Knead tab after I get done with this post.

The next picture shows a 30% Spelt bread/70% King Arthur Bread flour on the left, 100% King Arthur Bread flour on the right:

spelt left 171230

The Spelt flour bread is darker. It also seemed to proof faster and rise higher. Per wikipedia: “In comparison to hard red winter wheat, spelt has a more soluble protein matrix characterized by a higher gliadin: glutenin ratio.” My suspicion is that Spelt flour also has something that is contributing to increased enzyme activity, whether it’s more damaged starches in the flour, or a higher initial population of enzymes, or just different enzymes. It also worth noting that the gluten structure created by Spelt flour is more delicate — the dough requires gentle handling to prevent degassing.

Speaking of gentle handling — here is the end result of trying to use parchment paper as a sling to place a No Knead dough into the dutch oven:

bread parment sling 171230

See the dents in the sides? That’s where the parchment interfered with the oven spring of the bread. Failed experiment.

Lahey recommends using a cloth (or your hands) to transfer a No Knead dough into the dutch oven. If it’s a cloth he recommends generously dusting with “wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour” (pg 52 of “My Bread”). I’ve been letting the final rise happen in a bowl because I’ve seen him do the transfer from the cloth to the oven and I think it makes more of a mess than I’m willing to tolerate in the kitchen. The thing with the bowl is that flour will stick to the sides, so I’ve started oiling, then dusting the sides of the bowl with rice flour. Rice flour doesn’t contain gluten, and I’ve found that it will allow the dough to release much more easily from the bowl.

And it only took me six years to figure that out.

As far as the taste and appearance of the 30% Spelt No Knead —  I felt like the “regular bread flour” tasted more like refined sugar. The Spelt tasted much mellower and rounder. The finished exterior appearances of the two breads were very similar, as were the crumb structures. The Spelt raw dough had a very distinct red/pink hue to it. A bunch of discerning palates had nice things to say about the Spelt, so it must have been ok.

I’ll be baking with Spelt again.

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