Small artisan bakers do need a day off to stay sane and typically Monday is the day they shut their bakery doors to the public. Last week I was on the road wanting to pick up a loaf and found myself empty handed after stops at several bakeries; either they didn’t have much on the shelves I wanted or were closed. I decided I was getting lazy and should just go home and make some bread. It’s not rocket science after all. I just had to mix flour, water and yeast, leave it for a few hours and then bake it. It would also be a good opportunity to try the spelt flour I bought a while ago, so I thought I would add some to my usual mix of rye and white bread flour.
Spelt is an ancient form of wheat which has been cultivated since the bronze age right through to the end of the 19th century when combined harvesters favoured the wheat we use today over the hard husked spelt grains. Spelt flour has a sweet, nutty flavour and a high protein level (13-14%) which is great for baking light, soft-textured bread. This mix of spelt, rye and white bread flour gave my loaf a softer than usual texture, a lovely flavour and appealing golden colour. It is worth trying a 50:50 mix of spelt to white flour but be aware that spelt takes up less water, so add the water gradually while you mix to the right consistency. The loaves tend to be moist and have good keeping qualities. Spelt flour is also a more expensive flour, usually retailing for around $7-$9/kg. Brands to look for are: Callington Mill (Oatlands, Tas); Broken River (Benalla, Vic); Kialla (Toowoomba, QLD); Powlett Hill (Powelltown, Vic) and Laucke (Strathalbyn, S.A.).
The Cast Iron Pot No Knead Bread Method
- 125 g spelt flour
- 125 g rye flour
- 250 g unbleached bread flour (e.g. Laucke)
- 1 tsp salt
- 11/2 tsp freeze-dried yeast
- 1 tsp malt extract (optional)
Mix the flour, salt and yeast together. Dissolve the malt extract in a jug with a little hot water from the kettle and then top up with approximately 2 cups of cold water. Add the malted water and mix with a wooden spoon to form a stiff porridge consistency. Add more water if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap, put in a warm location (a cupboard or in a warm room) and forget about it for at least 4 hours or leave overnight. You should end up with double the volume and a lot of aeration in the mix. Heat a cast iron pot with lid (Le Creuset or similar) in the oven at 200 °C. Dust the risen dough with flour, scrape it from the sides of the bowl with a spatula and shape into a loaf with your hands. When the oven temperature is reached place the dough inside the hot pot, slash the top of the dough with a sharp knife and bake with the lid on for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for a further 20 minutes. When complete tip out of the dish and cool on a rack.