I guess I could call this loaf my signature sourdough, as I have been using it regularly for the last few months and it continues to consistently produce amazing bread. This time I substituted spelt (farro) to the wheat flour of the original version and shaped the loaf into a proper boule’ (pagnotta in Italian). To improve the shaping phase, I also used a proofing basket. And, as I had a little less starter than usual, I adjusted the amount of water accordingly. Rising times were somewhat different than usual, too. But let’s go see step-by-step what I did to obtain this lovely rustic bread.
ITALIAN COUNTRY SOURDOUGH WITH SPELT
You need: 450 gr 100% hydration sourdough starter / 280 gr water / 350 gr bread flour (or Manitoba) / 250 gr spelt flour / 1 tea-spoon sugar or honey / 2 tea-spoon marine salt. Suggestion: get a scale!
How to: Time Table
2 h first fermentation
12 h retardation in the fridge
1/2 h second fermentation
3 h final fermentation
Mixing. After mixing the sourdough with the water and the sugar, I added the flours and the salt (last), working the dough as little as possible, just enough to get all the ingredients mixed together. Cover with plastic foil.
Fermentation. I let rest at room temperature and after 2 h the volume was already doubled. I retarded the fermentation by placing the dough in the fridge until the morning after (ca 12 h). Passed this time, I let rest outside the fridge for 1/2 h.
Shaping. I transferred the dough on a surface sprinkled with semolina (durum) flour and folded the 4 corners of the dough into a rectangular “package”. Then proceeded to shape into a ball. A nice demonstration is here.
Proofing. I placed the ball seam-side down over a kitchen towel sprinkled with semolina flour and placed the towel in a proofing basket. Gently folded the towel over the dough and sealed with plastic foil. I let rest for further 3 h.
Baking. I baked at 200 degrees (Celsius, 390 Fahrenheit) lowered from initial 275 degrees (Celsius, 525 Fahrenheit) for 35 minutes with steam and 25 minutes at 180 degrees (Celsius, 355 Fahrenheit) without steam. For more detail on how to bake the bread check my previous post.
CONSIDERATIONS: I was very happy with the perfectly round shape of this loaf. I also like that I can make a single loaf of 1.5 kg (3 pounds) and not having to shape several smaller loaves. As compared to 100% wheat, the addition of spelt gave a slightly more sour taste to the bread and a more soft and chewy texture to the crumb. Loved this bread both with cured meats and with sweet spreads… wish I had some nutella!