Spelt Sourdough with an Oat Porridge/Soaker

Using Hamelman’s delicious, and highly recommended, 5 grain levain recipe as the structure for this bread here is a Wholegrain Spelt Sourdough with an Oat Porridge/Soaker recipe. Please forgive my explanations, instead of exact measurements in places, as I went by feel for some of the steps.

Levain Build 8-10 hours before the final dough: (I did 10 hours and while it appeared over mature it worked very well and produced lovely flavour. I’m putting 8-10 hours as a good range with 8 hours playing it safe but by all means go up to 10)

  • 21g starter
  • 134g water
  • 107g wholegrain spelt flour

This is 125% hydration and expect some separation as the levain ferments. This is normal. When mature the surface will be frothy and bubbly with a lovely aroma.

Porridge Soaker to be done the same time as building the levain: Toast 146g rolled oats. Either in a dry pan on a low heat while stirring till there’s a nice aroma. Or spread out on a tray and placed into a 350°F/176°C preheated oven for about ten minutes making sure not to burn the oats.

  • 146g toasted rolled oats
  • 3g salt
  • Enough boiling water so the oats soak it all up with a little excess (about 300ml/g)

Pour the boiling water over the oats, stir up well and cover with a towel till cooled. Then cover with plastic wrap or inside a plastic bag till ready to use. The oats will soak up the little excess water in the meantime.

Final Dough:

  • 321g whole spelt flour
  • Enough extra water to make a soft but manageable dough; about 60ml/g
  • 8g salt
  • Soaker/Porridge
  • 241g levain (note not all the levain is used; 21g is retained for the next bake)

1: to the soaker add the salt and levain; combine using some of the water till fully distributed.

2: add the flour and mix; all the while slowly adding more water till you get a soft but managable dough.

3: knead till full gluten formation; about 15-20 minutes.

Due to it being whole spelt and oat porridge you won’t get a strong dough but it’ll hold itself together well without gaining a lot of extensibility. At the beginning it might feel a bit sticky due to the gel from the oats but it will be easy to handle and become less sticky once the kneading is done.

4: bulk ferment for two hours. While not strictly necessary due to the nature of the dough but keeping in line with the original structure of this recipe you can perform one set of gentle stretch and folds half way.

5: there is no need to carefully shape following the usual methods. This dough will not benefit from keeping the gas bubbles in and a pre-shape, bench rest etc. Instead, with damp hands de-gas the dough and gently knead to gain back structure then shape into a log with some gentle folds and a little tightening up all done in the bowl. Then place into a prepared loaf pan. Either with damp hands or a wetted spoon/dough scraper fix any irregularities in the dough smoothing it over.

6: final proof for 45 min - 1 hour and bake in a preheated oven; making sure its baked through properly. The crust should be golden and tap hollow. This loaf does retain moisture so make sure its done well.

7: cool before cutting.

The high percentage and hydration of the levain will bring out a lovely tang to this bread. I think the oats help bring moisture which spelt breads struggle with and the nuttiness of both the toasted oats and spelt compliment each other. This bread has a soft crumb and complex flavour being both nutty and tangy.


Beautiful sandwich loaf Abe. I’ve made Hamelman’s 5 grain sourdough a few times, it took me several tries to get a decent result. Fortunately it is such a good tasting bread.

Thank you Benny. The 5 grain levain is one recipe worth getting right and revisiting time and time again. Hamelman’s recipes are consistently top of the game. It was his recipes that got me thinking, and questioning, certain beliefs when it came to sourdough. One in particular is the seemingly contradictory less starter = more flavour. It turns out its not seemingly contradictory - it is contradictory. High hydration levain to encourage lactic acid bacteria and using a high percentage in your dough will result in a flavoursome loaf.

Just been admiring your latest bake. What wonderful colour.

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Abe did you bake with steam?

I baked this in a pullman which had a lid. I would advise steam for the first 20 minutes if not baking inside a vessel.

Abe, that’s a gorgeous loaf. I bet the taste is just lovely.

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Thank you Hester. This one I was very pleased with. One of my better spelt loaves. Went down a treat. Hope you’re keeping well.