Saturday, 19 January 2013

Flexible, Fermented and Fun! Spelt Sourdough

Flexible, fermented, and fun!  That’s how I would describe this Spelt Sourdough with Popped Amaranth and Potato. It’s flexible due to the timing as well as the ingredients. I started the process Thursday night, but didn’t finish the bread until Sunday afternoon. In addition, I was able to easily adapt the ingredients and the method to suit my schedule and taste.



It’s fermented due to the sourdough sponge, and the final dough resting in the refrigerator for two days. This extended fermentation time, along with the popped amaranth and potato, is what gives this bread it’s unique texture and flavor. 

It’s fun to pop the amaranth and watch it jump out of the pan (if you’re not careful), but it’s also fun to see all of the ingredients come together to form a beautiful and tasty loaf of bread. 

Although it takes a little while to make this bread, and even longer if you’re like me, it is a fun bread to make and worth the effort. Another benefit of this bread is that it has a longer shelf life. I’ve been enjoying this bread for the past week and it still tastes good.


Spelt Sourdough Bread with Popped Amaranth & Potato


Adapted from: Amaranth Potato Sourdough Dinner Rolls by Chef Brad

Makes: 2 Large Loaves


Sourdough Sponge:


  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cooked, reserve the water
  • 1 1/2 cups reserved potato water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups popped amaranth (1/2 cup of amaranth grains)
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups White Spelt flour, plus more for sprinkling if necessary
  • 2 1/4 – 3 cups Whole Grain Spelt flour



1) Creating the Sourdough Sponge

The night before you plan to make this bread (or early in the morning if you prefer), take your sourdough starter out of the refrigerator and add one cup in a large mixing bowl. If you don’t have enough starter to use a cup and still have some starter left, you’ll need to feed your starter before you start this process. This is what I had to do.  I fed my Spelt starter in the early evening with 125 grams of whole grain spelt flour and 125 grams of water.



After a few hours, the starter was ready to be used so I put one cup of the starter in a mixing bowl and the remaining starter in a quart jar and placed it back in the refrigerator. 

To the starter in the bowl, I added the White Spelt flour, sugar, yeast, and water and let it rest in a warm place for 8 to 12 hours. This is the active sponge.



2) Popping the Amaranth Grains

To pop the grains, heat a deep pot over medium heat. Test the heat by placing a pinch of grains in the pot. If it pops, then it’s hot enough. You’ll need about 1/2 cup of grains to yield 2 cups of popped amaranth. Pop the grains by placing no more than 2 tablespoons at a time in the pot. If you use more, the grains have a tendency to burn. Be sure to use a pot that’s deep enough so the grains don’t pop out.



3) Mixing the Dough

Add all of the ingredients, including the sponge, but just half of the flour in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix on first speed until the ingredients are well incorporated. Add more flour until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Increase to second speed and mix a couple of minutes more. Resist the temptation to add too much flour. The dough will be slightly tacky.



4) Bulk Fermentation

Place the dough in a greased bowl and let it proof for an hour or so until it is doubled in bulk or do what I did and place it in the refrigerator to ferment overnight or for a couple of days. 



If you placed the dough in the refrigerator overnight (or longer), remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm up to room temperature before proceeding to the next step.  I gave the dough a couple of quick turns in the bowl before I let it sit on the counter for an hour or so.


5) Shaping and Proofing the Loaves

After the bulk fermentation, shape the loaves into round or oval loaves and place them on parchment paper for the final proof.  Or, place them into proofing baskets heavily dusted with flour.  I used one 10.5” oval basket and one 10.5” round basket and sprinkled them with a mixture of rice flour and all-purpose flour.  Cover the loaves with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let them proof at warm room temperature (about 70 degrees F.) for an hour and a half.  They will increase in volume during this time, but won’t double in size.



6) Prepare the Oven for Hearth Baking

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. and place a baking stone on the middle rack and a steam pan on the bottom rack. Let the oven and baking stone preheat for at least 30 minutes before you bake the loaves.


7) Scoring the Loaves

Carefully remove the loaves from the proofing baskets onto parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal or sprayed with oil.  This part was a bit tricky.  The dough stuck to the baskets in a couple of places even with the flour, but I managed to keep them from getting completely out of shape.  You can see where I salvaged the loaf in the photo below.  Fortunately, the damage wasn’t too bad.



Score the loaves using a serrated knife or lame. I scored the round loaf using a square pattern, but it ended up being a little bit off-centered.



I scored the oval loaf using a long stroke right down the middle.  The dough was still pretty sticky.



8) Baking the Loaves

Slide the loaves (with the parchment paper) onto the baking stone.  Add one cup of hot water to the steam pan.  Spritz the walls of the oven with water and shut the door.  Repeat the spritzing process two more times in the first couple of minutes of baking.  This will help the loaves open up (oven spring) during baking.  Since my loaves were pretty big, I baked them one at-a-time.  Bake them for 25 – 30 minutes until they are golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow on the bottom.  Remove the parchment paper partway through baking so the bottom doesn’t get soggy.


9) Cooling the Loaves

Cool the loaves completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.



10) Slice and enjoy!

This bread has a delicious and slightly sweet flavor.  The popped amaranth gives it a light texture and the potato gives it plenty of moisture. I like it!  I’ve enjoyed it with butter and toasted with cheese.  It makes a great accompaniment to soup.



These loaves are so big, I decided to save one for another day.  I wrapped the round loaf in foil and placed it in a plastic bag.  Then I put it in the freezer.  I’ve been enjoying the oval loaf.  It definitely has good keeping quality.


Happy Baking!


No comments:

Post a Comment