Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spelt Sourdough starter and Pain au Levain à Lepautre (sourdough with spelt)

Recently, I mentioned that I created a spelt sour dough starter.  This is the first time that I iused it in a bread. This starter did not take long to prepare. I think it was ready to bake by day four, but to be on the safe side, I let it go an additional day or two before placing it in the refrigerator. The starters in Hamelman's books all require two feedings a day. I am an advocate of his approach, but this one called for only daily feedings and it came out just fine. This starter is 81% hydrated yet it remained very wet. I have never worked with spelt, so I did not know exactly what to expect. I was very pleased with the aroma, but then again I have never come across a starter that I had to turn down. This formula comes from Leader's book Local Breads and is actually his formula for German rye sourdough starter. Leader provides us with a variation by simply replacing the rye flour with spelt flour. I found it interesting so I gave it a try. 

The first bread that I baked with this starter was not as good as I had expected. There are several possible explanations for this. The formula called for a traditional stiff wheat levain, but I decided to use the spelt starter which I had just created. I also decided that I would not adjust the ratio of bread flour to whole spelt flour in the final dough. Perhaps I should have toned down the amount of spelt in the final dough, by increasing the percentage of wheat flour.  This might have compensated for the presence of spelt in the sourdough build.  However, I did not do this. The third issue is that my timer did not go off after my dough was finished proofing.  So the bread over-proofed by about 45 minutes. This was really unfortunate and I was annoyed, but I had to move on. This is another example of the scientific method going terribly wrong. I changed too many of the variables.  I think my results would have been much better if I had simply used the spelt sourdough and reduced the amount of spelt in the final dough.

Even in the bowl this bread was rather dry. I added a little bit of water in the bowl, but I did not want to add too much. I am always hesitant about adding extra water.  It is often difficult to fully incorporate extra water into the partially formed dough in the mixer, but what else could I do?  I guess that I have to chock this up as a good old lesson learned. (I seem to be learning a lot of lessons from this blogging project)!

As I mentioned earlier, the bread over-proofed, and that is my fault.  I lost focus, and the resulting boule was dense and dry.  It was hard to eat without toasting it. I can tell you that it is not my worst loaf, but it's certainly not one of my better ones. It is also possible that I simply do not like the taste of spelt. If that is the case, then I can remove the blame from the baker (Me).  It would definitely be less damaging to my ego, but I do not think that is what happened. I say this because this morning I baked a Whole spelt bread, and to be honest it was pretty good. It was dense but flavorful. I will blog on the whole spelt loaf shortly.

Well there is not much more to say here.  Had it come out better, I would have been more excited, but it did not live up to my standards, so I am going to call it quits on this one.
Looks like my subconscious was doing me a favor by not reminding me to take pictures. It guess that it was protecting my well being! 

In the future, I will try this loaf again! Next time I will follow Leader's instructions, and I think it will be much better. After all, He is the expert!

Keep on Baking
Keep on Reading

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