Spelt, Red Fife and Rye Sourdough No. 2

This was my second try baking this recipe from The Perfect Loaf. The first bake was good especially the outward appearance but I felt that the crumb was a bit tight in places indicating that it was a bit underproofed. This time I pushed the bulk fermentation another 30 mins and after final shaping left the dough in the banneton at room temperature for 30 minutes before putting it in the fridge. I also increased the hydration to 84%. I also sprayed the dough with some water prior to putting it into the oven and the crust did get a nice slightly shiny blistered appearance that I like.

I suspect that I pushed the fermentation a bit too far in the other direction this time and that there is likely a sweet spot in between.

I’m very pleased with the crumb of this bake. The crumb is much more even without the areas of density my first loaf had. The flavour is still wonderful. Now if I could achieve the oven spring from my last bake with the crumb from this bake I’d be super happy. I like how the crust shatters when you bite into it, I think the spritzing which encouraged more blisters makes the crust shatter.


Really beautiful loaf.

Excellent work!

Thank you Paul.


Thanks Melissa.

I’ve made this bread three times now, twice in bannetons, once in loaf pans. My first two attempts came out like thick discus, and the pan loaves had minimal rise. The flavor is excellent, but the crumb and shape are nothing like your beautiful loaf.

I’m going to keep at it, next time reducing the hydration a bit more and also making sure my starter is super energetic.

I think it is worthwhile trying it again. I really have a hard time with high hydration even with the 50% whole grain. Aiming for 80% hydration really helped with getting a better oven spring for me as you can see with my posting of my third attempt. Although, now looking that the difference in the crumble between the higher and lower hydration, the higher hydration probably had a more open crumb.

I’ll take a tighter crumb if I can get better oven spring and have loaves that hold a decent shape.

Any chance you could post the recipe or a link for this. I’d like to give it a try. Any chance you can give a small indication of tweaks/timings u’ve used would be very much appreciated too. I’m in UK but can’t seem to get Red Fife berries or flour…any idea for substitutions please. Thanks so much

HI Jane

Here is the recipe I followed.

Dough Formula 800 g dough

Weight Ingredient
197 g White bread flour
93 g Whole Spelt
83 g Whole Red fife
21 g Whole Rye
332 g Water 85% hydration
8 g Salt
66 Mature Levain

Hold back 20% of the water so hold back 64 g and use

For this bake I used 280 g of water during Autolyze. I added 32 g of the water to dissolve the salt and mixed. Through the coil folds I would estimate that I added back another 12 g of water so my hydration would have been around 84%.

Levain Build for 800 g dough

Weight Ingredient
25 g Mature starter
12 g White Bread Flour
13 g Whole Spelt Flour
25 g Water

Maurizio’s method below.


  1. Liquid Levain – 10:00 a.m.

Add the called for mature sourdough starter, water, and flour listed in the Levain Build section above to a clean jar. As I mentioned above, try to hit a final dough temperature of 78-80°F (26-27°C). Mix well and cover loosely for 3 hours.

  1. Autolyse – 12:30 p.m.

Note: This dough has a fairly high hydration. If you’re familiar with the flour you’re using and you know it can handle it, proceed, otherwise, you might want to withhold more water through mixing than the 100g I do (I’d suggest 200g). Add this reserved water in slowly through mixing if it feels like the dough can handle the addition.

Add the called for flour and all but 100g of the water to a mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix to incorporate the ingredients until there are no dry bits of flour remaining. Cover, and keep somewhere at warm room temperature until it’s time to mix 30 minutes later.

  1. Mix – 1:00 p.m.

Add the liquid levain, salt, and appropriate amount (add this reserved water in slowly as the dough handles it) of the remaining water to the mixing bowl holding the autolysed dough. Using your hands, mix everything until it comes together into a shaggy mass. Then, dump the bowl out to the counter and slap and fold the dough for about 8 minutes to develop strength. This is a wet dough, and it benefits from a little extra kneading time.

I recently uploaded a new post to my Baking Guides page with more information on the slap and fold technique, including the video below. Check out the Slap and Fold Guide Page for more information on this technique.

When the dough is mostly smooth and starts to hold its shape on the counter, transfer it to a container for bulk fermentation and cover.

  1. Bulk Fermentation – 1:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

During the three and a half hour bulk fermentation, give the dough three sets of stretch and folds. The first set will be 15 minutes after the start of bulk fermentation, then every 30 minutes thereafter. Let the dough rest after the last set of stretch and folds for the remainder of bulk fermentation.

  1. Divide & Preshape – 4:45 p.m.

Fill a bowl with a little water and place near your work surface. Gently scrape out your dough from the bulk container onto your dry counter. Divide the mass in half using a bench knife and using a wet hand and the knife, preshape each half into a very taut round.

Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

  1. Shape – 5:05 p.m.

This recipe is nice shaped as a boule or batard, but I tend to prefer the long, oval shape because of how it slices. However, a boule is a nice change now and again — it’s up to you. If you do go with a batard, I would suggest shaping it a little tighter than usual, and when scoring, a double (or triple) score will help eke out a bit more rise.

I rolled the final, shaped dough on a towel with a layer of instant rolled oats spread from edge to edge to get them to stick to the exterior. Then, place the dough in the final proofing basket.

  1. Proof – 5:10 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. (the next day)

Cover both proofing baskets entirely and put them in the fridge to proof overnight.

  1. Bake – 9:00 a.m. (pre-heat oven at 8:00 a.m.)

Preheat your oven with a baking stone or Baking Steel inside to 500°F (260°C).

I baked these boules on my Baking Steel in my oven: see my post on how to steam your home oven for baking . However, you could also use a Dutch oven: see my post on how to bake with a Dutch oven(in which case don’t use a baking stone or Baking Steel).

The next morning, preheat your oven with baking stone/steel for one hour at 500°F (260°C).

I baked these boules on my Baking Steel in my oven: see my post on how to steam your home oven for baking . However, you could also use a Dutch oven: see my post on how to bake with a Dutch oven(in which case don’t use a baking stone or Baking Steel).

The next morning, preheat your oven with baking stone/steel for one hour at 500°F (260°C).

Score each piece of dough and load it using one of the two methods listed above, then turn the oven down to 450°F (232°C). Bake for 20 minutes with steam. Then, remove the steaming pans from inside the oven (or remove the lid to your Dutch oven) and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, or until done.

Once fully baked, cool your loaves on a cooling rack for 1-2 hours.

What I did slightly differently is that I did a coil fold 15 mins after completing the slap and folds. I followed that 30 mins later with lamination of the dough which for the first time went super well, perhaps the spelt’s extensibility really made it easier than I have experienced in the past. Then two more coil folds at 30 mins intervals.

I otherwise followed his instructions until baking, since my dough is 800g and his was 1000g I baked for 20 mins in my Dutch oven with lid on at 450ºF, removed the lid and dropped the temperature to 420ºF and baked for 10 mins, then replaced the lid leaving gaps by placing the lid across the Dutch oven to shield the bread and baked for a further 10 mins.

Thank you so much and appreciate the detail you’ve gone to. Gonna give it a try this week. Presumably I just swap out the Red Fife flour(which I can’t get) for a Wholemeal? Last question…do u use a white starter for this? I have a 100% rye starter that I also bake with but I struggle to get good oven spring with this.

Yes you can sub the whole wheat if that is what you have for the Red Fife gram per gram. My starter is a whole grain starter, so I’d say you can use your mature rye starter to make your levain, I don’t see why that wouldn’t work. Enjoy this bake, I’ve just baked it today for the fourth time still trying to get it perfect if that is possible with my skill set.

I’ll give it a go and let you know. Can’t wait!

Yes please do, have fun stay safe.

I’m having a go at the bread today. All is going well so far. Can I just check…did you make 2x 400g loaves in the end or 1 x 800g loaf?

Sorry if my instructions were confusing, I made one 800 g loaf. The original recipe I followed made 2 x 1000 g loaves so my instructions were probably a mix of those and mine. Hope your bake is a huge success Jane.

That was my only slight confusion. Everything else has been excellent. Quite chuffed how I wasn’t phased by such a high hydration dough. Still keeping everything crossed for the final result! :crossed_fingers: I don’t normally score my bread as I’ve found in the past that its just caused the final loaf to deflate in the oven (as was possibly on the edge of being over proved). Does scoring help with oven rise? As I have struggled to get brilliant rise with whole meal loaves.

May have spoken too soon! When “shaping” and leaving for bench rest, the loaf has just spread out massively onto the counter…not resembling a “loaf” at all. I’m praying now!:scream::pray::tired_face:

If that was after pre-shaping then don’t worry. Try to get good tension with final shaping. When you transfer to the banneton try stitching the seam for extra tension. Finally you could put the dough in banneton into the freezer for the final 15-20 minutes of cold retard to firm up the dough so when you turn it out and score it it has a better chance of keeping its shape.

Finally finished baking this morning. Can’t say it’s the best looking loaf I’ve ever made. I took your advice and put the loaf in the freezer for 15 mins before baking. However, when I scored it…as I found in the past, it deflated! I checked the proof was right as it sprung back but left a little indentation. It didn’t have much oven spring either. It hadn’t massively grown in the proof overnight either. I will persevere and try it again. Was very tasty though