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Author Topic: Swapping foods for starters  (Read 2065 times)

Offline Zeb

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Swapping foods for starters
« on: January 20, 2011, 04:51:12 AM »
Yesterday I bought a bag of extremely expensive British spelt - described as white with a little bran.  I thought I would feed my wheat starter with it and make as near to a 100% spelt loaf as I could.  I refreshed it twice and it seemed to be OK with it, though not nearly as bubbly as when feeding with its regular food. Then I mixed a dough with

120g of starter @ 1:1:1
310 grams water
550 grams white spelt
50 grams organic strong white (added as the dough came out really really wet)
12 g salt
1 tsp barley malt
1 tsp ev olive oil

I got a very smooth light soft dough, with a sort of soft gluten feel to it. Don't know quite how to describe it.  And after four hours of proving, with gentle folding in the bowl, nothing much happened, no aeration really to speak of.  I decided not to invest any more time in it and I poured it onto a baking tray and baked it, hoping for a flat bread that I could use for something or other.  It makes a completely delicious full flavoured bread, but looks-wise and all the rest it was hopeless. I'm wondering if spelt and sourdough are that compatible. When I read on sites about spelt I come across people saying that it proves quickly and shouldn't be left for too long. So if that's the case, then maybe long slow sourdoughs and spelt aren't made for each other? Does anyone have any experience of this?
Joanna @ Zeb Bakes

Offline Jacqueline

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Re: Swapping foods for starters
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2011, 05:11:02 AM »
Interesting- gosh, who knows? Not me, as I have never baked with spelt.

Several reasons- when I first took off with sourdough I was still doing my PhD and was really really poverty stricken and spelt was way out of my price range. Reason 2: it's kind of hard to buy Australian-grown spelt (in Canberra), especially since I don't have a car and the specialty shops are a 10 mile bike ride away. Also, I believe in recent years the drought has made Aussie spelt extra-expensive; now, of course, it's probably utterly drowned.

HOWEVER- for sure wholemeal/wholegrain doughs ferment differently (faster?) than white. I don't have enough experience with such doughs really to say how much faster though. I think Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial does a fair bit with spelt though- maybe ask her?

Cheers, Jacqueline

Offline ap269

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Re: Swapping foods for starters
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2011, 06:51:00 AM »
I have no idea... I have no problems with my starter. It's not a spelt starter right now because I didn't have any spelt flour then, but before that I was feeding my regular levain with regular spelt flour and it worked fine. Used it in wheat breads or in spelt breads, no problems whatsoever.
Andrea (ap269)

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Offline Zeb

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Re: Swapping foods for starters
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2011, 10:27:09 AM »
I haven't given up, I'm going to keep going with it  ;D  Jacqueline, Celia gets special extra protein extra hard spelt from a special miller in Sydney. I've chatted to her about it in the past. 

I do think the spelt varies from grower to grower and country to country. Wish I could send you all a bag of this stuff and we could do a group test bake but it is almost three times the price of regular flour.  Anyway this  one ended up as croutons and very nice they are too.  Tomorrow I am going to make the Rustic Loaf (I've started the preferment today) and a Vermont sourdough, both incorporating the remains of my spelt flour as the wholemeal flour element and we'll see how that goes. I think maybe I am just not lucky with it, or I expect it to do something it isn't capable of, or I am getting something wrong with temperature, water or timing. That just about covers it...it's a challenge I return to from time to time...   rofl

I have emailed the producers to ask if they have a sourdough formula that they use.
Joanna @ Zeb Bakes

Offline sgratch

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Re: Swapping foods for starters
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2011, 05:28:34 PM »
I did a course with Paul Merry at Cann Mills, Shaftesbury last July & we did sourdough spelt loaves, but with 2% fresh yeast added.

Recipe was for 5kg dough:
1.5kg leaven (100%hydration)
1.1kg water
60g fresh yeast
2.25kg spelt flour
50g honey
50g salt
60ml sunflower oil

Dough was mixed in spiral mixer for c.10mins.
1.5hrs bulk ferment
Scaled 5x1kg
1hr proof in tins
Baked 30 mins at 230oc

My notes say: "spelt has extensibility but not elasticity - prone to collapsing when prooved."

Have to say though, that I didn't like this loaf, nor any other spelt loaf I've tried (which has not been many).

The famous Hobbs House 2kg Shepherd's Loaf is a sourdough spelt, I am hoping to try it sometime soon.

Are you using Sharpham Park spelt? I've got a bag (the refined white one) in the cupboard, still unopened.

Geraint

Offline Zeb

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Re: Swapping foods for starters
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2011, 05:51:35 PM »
Thanks for that recipe Geraint!  What I notice is that it was baked in tins, is that because it wouldn't hold up at all in a banetton or couche? Edit: Meant to ask was the leaven made with spelt also? 

 I don't like refined white spelt, wholemeal spelt is good and this new one from Sharpham has some bran in it and it has good flavour, which is why I am getting a tad annoyed with it. I'm hoping they will email me back one of these days.

I don't really know what is meant by extensible but not elastic. Does that mean you can roll it, say into strands, without tearing but that it doesn't 'ping back' into shape like a high gluten dough does? I'm guessing here  :wot?:

Anyway I used up the rest of the bag and made the loaves I described above. I haven't cut them both yet. I'll post pics when I do.  ;D
Joanna @ Zeb Bakes

Offline sgratch

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Re: Swapping foods for starters
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2011, 07:04:29 PM »
Yes it was a spelt leaven we used. I'm pretty sure the spelt flour we used was a wholemeal one - from Stoates mill across the yard from the classroom. I meant to say before that Paul was not very happy with the way the flour was performing - pockmarked surface after baking - and was going to swap the sack for one from a different batch. This might indicate its a bit unreliable as a flour.

I'm not sure how the white spelt ended up in the cupboard as I generally prefer breads with more wholemeal content.

As I understand it, the extensibility/elasticity is like you say: extensibility is the dough stretching i.e. why it can expand, and elasticity is what makes the dough spring back; so spelt is closer to rye than wheat in its gluten properties.

So did the next batch come out OK? Look forward to the pics.

Offline Zeb

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Re: Swapping foods for starters
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2011, 02:06:01 PM »
Here are some pics of my recent tussles

1.   with the Sharpham spelt - the white one with a little bran added back.

The pure spelt and spelt leaven.  I made a standard sort of sourdough, or so I thought, about 65% hydration  rofl  All extensible, no elasticity. Poured it onto a tray and attempted to bake it as a flatbread. Which stuck to the pan. It was very flavourful but... Made great croutons in the end!


Joanna @ Zeb Bakes

Offline Zeb

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Re: Swapping foods for starters
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2011, 02:24:11 PM »
No 2 Loaf  as the Rustic Loaf in Bread with spelt for the wholegrain bit. These came out curiously pale and interesting. They were a bit flat, despite tight shaping and the crumb was lots of little bubbles. Bread a bit bland, but OK. No idea why they looked like this.

Joanna @ Zeb Bakes

Offline Zeb

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Re: Swapping foods for starters
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2011, 02:32:13 PM »
No 3 - the most successful to date, except I made the loaves too big for the banneton so they burst here there and everywhere.  This was with a white wheat sourdough starter formula as the Vermont Sourdough with Extra Grain, (the extra grain being spelt)  again from Bread. So a relatively small amount of spelt. And maybe that's where I am going to stay if I use this flour, using it as a component in a bread to add flavour and depth rather than keep trying for 100%.  I try every so often and I never get something I am happy with. A baker has to know her limitations  :whistle:

The crumb shot is the bread taken out of the freezer and cut and it is not quite defrosted - that's the dense bit you can see in the pic. 

So that's all folks!

The last two pics are of a loaf I made at the same time only with rye as the extra grain. That's the one that makes me happy  ;D
Joanna @ Zeb Bakes