Bread is the recipe most often baked here at home. Aside from the infinitely better quality of a home baked loaf, the flavour is superior in every way to its mass produced, plastic wrapped, shop bought counterpart. And, a variety of different flours are available to the home baker. While spelt flour produces a light, wholegrain loaf that is nutty and delicious to eat. I thoroughly recommend my Plaited Seeded Top Wholegrain Spelt Bread.
While this loaf is 100% wholegrain, it lacks the heaviness of a wholemeal wheat grain bread. Yet it loses none of the delicious, hearty, wholegrain flavour. Also quicker to make, in the kneading and dough proving stages, than a regular loaf. This is the loaf to make when you haven’t got all day to linger over making bread and yet, nothing about it feels rushed. Resulting in the same feeling of relaxation and accomplishment one feels from baking any bread at home.
The Benefits Of Home Baked Bread
Spelt is an ancient grain that can prove tricky to grow. Craggs & Co grow spelt here in the U.K. where it is also milled. Initially grown by request from a chef, they now sell both wholegrain and white spelt flour online, or it can be ordered and collected directly from the farm. Due to its claimed health benefits, it is becoming more popular with bakers.
While I don’t have independent evidence to corroborate the health claims from eating spelt, as opposed to wheat, I can give my opinion. Eating any wholegrain flour is always going to be better for our bodies due to the fibre content. Helping to keep our digestive system healthy. Finally, personaly I found the bread to be lighter on my stomach and more quickly digested than wholemeal bread, it did not lay heavy on my stomach, at all.
Recipe: Plaited Seeded Top Wholegrain Spelt Bread
325ml Water at room temperature
5g Dried Yeast – I use Allinson Flour
1tsp Clear Honey
500g Wholegrain Spelt Flour – I used Craggs & Co
25g/1oz Unsalted Butter
7g Sea Salt – I use Maldon
3-4 tbsp Mixed Seeds
Initial mixing of the dough is carried out using a stand mixer with dough hook attachment. While mixing by hand is possible, the dough is very wet and sticky to start with. Should you wish you start your dough by hand please see here for step by step instructions, remembering to follow this recipe!
Making The Spelt Dough
- Into the bowl of a stand mixer weigh 325g of room temperature water. 1g = 1ml water.
- Next add the yeast and honey.
- Add the flour on top, so that it entirely covers the water, yeast and honey.
- On top of the flour add the sea salt and butter.
- With the dough hook attached, mix on a low speed until the dough forms a smooth ball. At this point you can stop the mixer, remove the dough and continue to knead by hand until it passes the windowpane test*, see below.
- Continue to mix on a medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, 6-10 minutes. Stop the mixer, lift the dough hook and pull at the dough. As soon as the dough can be stretched thin enough so that light can be seen through it, it passes the windowpane test*.
- Scrape the dough from the hook into the bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove at room temperature until doubled in size. 45-60 minutes.
- While the dough is proving lightly grease a large baking tray with butter.
Creating A Plaited Loaf
- When doubled in size, scrape out the dough on to a very lightly floured worktop. Ensuring the top of the dough in the bowl, now becomes the bottom and is in contact with the worktop.
- Next it is important to create tension in the dough. Pull one side out and press diagonally across to the opposite side. Repeat, turning the dough after each pull and tuck, shaping the dough into a rough log as you do so. The dough should look like the picture below, without any sticky dough present.
Plaiting The Dough
- Weigh the dough and then divide the weight by 3.
- Cut the dough into 3 equal sized pieces.
- Roll out each piece until it measures 35cm/14″.
- These will be numbered 1, 2 and 3 from left to right.
- Place 3 on top of 1 and press together to secure.
- Next place 2 on top of 3 and again press to secure. You are now ready to start plaiting the bread. Note, each time a dough strand is moved, ensure that the plait is tight. If the plait is too loose it will be difficult to transfer to the greased baking tray. Also the plait definition may become lost during the second prove and baking.
- Each strand will have a new number when moved. The middle will always be 2, left 1 and right 3. The pattern is 3 over 2 then 1 over 2. Otherwise known as right over middle, left over middle.
- To start plaiting place 3 over 2. Moving 2 to the right as it becomes 3.
- Next 1 over 2. Moving 2 to the left as it becomes 1.
- Continue until the plait is complete.
- Gently tuck and press the ends together, in the same pattern, at the bottom of the plait.
- Place the plaited bread diagonally on to a baking tray. Use both hands to support the plait as it is moved.
Proofing The Plaited Dough
- Brush the plait lightly with room temperature water and then sprinkle over the mixed seeds.
- Cover with a clean tea towel and leave until doubled in size, 30-40 minutes.
- While the dough is having its second prove preheat the oven to 240C/220C fan, gas mark 9.
Baking The Plaited Seeded Top Wholegrain Spelt Bread
- Just prior to placing your bread on the oven, add a small pan with 1cm water to the bottom of the oven. This will help the crust expand before it sets and hardens.
- Once doubled in size remove the tea towel and place the bread into the centre of the oven.
- Bake at the hottest temperature for 5 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7. Allow to bake for a further 30-35 minutes.
- The bread is baked when it is a deep golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
- When baked remove the bread from the oven and immediately transfer to a cooling rack.
Such a beautiful loaf. Tempted though you may be, leave the bread to cool completely before slicing. Doing so allows the bread to slice properly and cooling bread is also better for digestion.
Serving And Storing The Spelt Bread
Slice and serve the bread as you would any other loaf. Accompanying soup, a hearty Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole, or as toast and sandwiches.
Double wrap in cling film and freeze for one month. Allow to defrost at room temperature, place in a moderately hot oven for 5 minutes and it will taste freshly baked.
To store, place in a bread bin or wrapped in baking parchment. Eat within 4 days.
If you have enjoyed this recipe for Plaited Seeded Top Wholegrain Spelt Bread then you may also enjoy these:
Baking bread at home is a deliciously rewarding experience. Even if you live close to a great bakery, the aroma of home baked bread only comes from making your own. Recipes can be tweaked for those with dietary restrictions. For example, leaving the seeds off of this loaf still results in an amazingly light, healthy, wholegrain bread. Your adaptations make each loaf baked suitable for sharing.
So, whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing your feast.
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