Making friends across the globe has been one of the many pleasures of taking part in Angie’s Fiesta Friday events, friends who inspire me to try out new things – I even went as far as cooking for Elaine of Foodbod fame! Imagine! – as well as learning from them how to do things better. I have to admit, sometimes I’m a bit lackadaisical about details, but then a more careful and thoughtful reader like Suzanne of A Pug in the Kitchen will nudge me into the right direction. Thank you to both of you, in lieu of all the other regulars over at Angie’s!
This week is very special, as I am co-hosting Fiesta Friday #84, along with the wonderful Effie of Food Daydreaming. Her blog has a very special place in my heart as, like me, she clearly dreams about food day in day out – her stories about the dishes are always interesting, funny or heartwarming. And to think that she has just moved house and is already hosting this week’s FF party and serving up a delicious potato salad is simply mind-blowing!
What makes Fiesta Fridays so special is the camaraderie and companionship: you bring along a dish, link it up to Angie’s site, and say hello. You’ll find that everybody appreciates your comments and will pop over to your site, too, for a little chat. Over time you’ll get to know a wide range of other bloggers, from every continent imaginable (unless you count the poles). The exact guidelines are here – it would be great to see you there!
Anyways, this brings me back to my post. Having come across so many different spelt breads on the past couple of Fiesta Fridays, I realised I had to give it a try myself. Spelt has a bit of a reputation: it’s an ancient variety of wheat, but one that needs an awful lot of kneading to get the gluten to work – perfect for your bread maker or a Kitchenaid or similar. Also, it makes for a rather soft loaf, so you’ll either need to bake it in a tin or mix it with other grains to give it a bit of standing power.
I’ve used wholewheat rye and some strong white bread flour, as well as some seeds, just to stay on the healthy side of life. Do let me know what you think of my first attempt with spelt – any suggestions are very welcome!
Spelt and Rye Sourdough Loaf
- 200g wholemeal spelt flour
- 200g wholemeal rye flour
- 150g sourdough starter
- 300-350g water
- 1 tsp salt
- 50-100g strong white bread flour
- 100g mixed seeds (I used sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and hemp)
Either in a bread machine or similar, or in a large bowl, mix the spelt and rye flour with the salt, sourdough starter and 300ml of the water. Cover and leave to stand for around 30 minutes.
Heat up the seeds in a non-stick frying pan. They will start popping (that’s the sesame seeds, mostly) sou you’ll need to keep stirring. Once they start releasing their oils you’ll notice the lovely scent; simply remove the pan from the heat and leave it to cool.
Now you need to get kneading, either by hand or with a machine, as long as it’s vigorous. A good 15 minutes might be needed, and you’ll know you’re getting there when the dough begins to become a little firmer. Add water and the strong white bread flour as needed. This is the moment when measurements won’t help and you need to trust your instincts: the dough should be quite soft and wet, but you should be able to form it into a ball. It shouldn’t hold its shape for long, slowly flattening as you watch it. Don’t worry: mix in the seeds, place it back in the bowl, cover it and let it rest until it has doubled in size. That can take a good 5 hours or longer – simply pop it in the fridge overnight, if necessary.
Once the dough has roughly doubled in size, place it on a floured surface and shape it into a ball. I put it in a proving basked, but you could also place it on a well-floured tea towel in any basket, or even into a non-stick bread tin. Cover and leave it to rest for another 2-4 hours, or until doubled in size.
Finally, heat your oven to 240C/460F, ideally with a large cast-iron casserole dish or a baking stone in it. This will take a good half hour. Once it is hot, turn out your dough either into the casserole or onto the stone or baking sheet, which you need to dust with a little semolina. Score, using a serrated knife, close the lid and pop it back into the oven. If you’re not using a casserole, simply splash 1/2 cup of water against the sides of the oven before you close it: this will give your bread a lovely crust.
As you can see, spelt is not really the grain to get you into breadmaking: ideally, you should have had some experience with sourdough breads before. I have a very simple sourdough loaf, which will hopefully give you a better idea as to how bread dough works, and what a sourdough needs to develop those lovely big holes!
Hopefully this did not put you off partying – I’m looking forward to meeting you at Fiesta Friday #84!