Another spelt failure
Today was a special day, says The Central Marketing-Society of German Agrarian Economy – couldn’t they have chosen a less obvious name? – ‘Tag des Deutschen Butterbrotes’ or ‘Day of the German sandwich’.
Allegedly it did not quite qualify for a national holiday, although I would be all for it, and I do not know what the statutes of a sandwich-day are. It seems, about 5,000 bakeries in the country joined the CMA in their quest to promote German grain. The pdf file (link to file no longer valid) lists only about 2,000 bakeries and many of them appear without names – for a second, it looked like I was onto something here.
But why wreck the brain about the difficulties of cereal marketing, when you can have your own bread? I tried another spelt loaf and followed Daniel Leader’s suggestions on how to spice up a pain au levain and replaced half of the wheat flour with whole-spelt, and also added a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds. A extra amount of water was needed to get a soft dough, but it rose perfectly and everything looked fine. What I had in mind was a loaf I had seen on Jeremy’s STIR THE POTS (the first two pictures of the series).
But my own bread sucked, it had a terribly hard crust that shattered into hundreds of micro-crackers under attempts to cut gently into it. The crumb was pale, dense, dry and tasted bland. I refuse to believe that this is the quintessence of spelt. Surely, there has to be a trick.
My book on German baking says:
“Things that should be considered when processing spelt:
Spelt doughs should…
- …include a small amount of fat
- …be made with a pre-ferment such as poolish, sourdough or old-bread soaker
- …be sprinkled with seeds such as linseeds (flaxseeds), sesame seeds or sunflower seeds
Spelt flour is a very strong flour that bakes to a slightly dry bread. Therefore it is important to keep the gluten supple with addtions of fat or pre-ferments. At the same time these modifications improve flavor and keep the crumb moist. The seeds add more flavor.”
“Adding” flavor by sprinkling the flavor on the loaf is like cheating, but ok, sounds reasonable. That probably also means to use spelt sourdough instead of a wheat levain. What about flour quality? There are about 10 different brands of spelt flour I could get ahold of, ranging from 2-5 Euros per Kilo, but don’t feel like trying them all. But maybe this is what needs to be done. Spelt bread will be a long-term project.
Spelt croutons are underrated.