This earthy and hearty artisan spelt bread may just be the best whole grain bread in the world!
Feed your sourdough starter about 12 hours before mixing your dough to ensure it's ripe and ready to use.
In a large bowl, mix the spelt flour, all purpose flour, and salt together. Mix the water and honey in another bowl.
Mix the water and honey mixture with the flours until it starts to combine. Add the sourdough starter and continue to mix with your hand or a wooden spoon until it forms into a ball of dough. It will be wet and sticky.
If you want to develop the gluten a little more, you can knead it by hand for about two more minutes, but it's not necessary.
Scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl and add it to the bottom of the dough. Give the dough a fold as shown in the photos. Cover with plastic wrap and let ferment for 10-12 hours in a warm spot in your kitchen until doubled in size.
Scrape the dough from the bowl and for two large loaves, cut the dough in half. Shape into rounds or loaf style. Watch the two minute shaping video in this post for instructions. You can make whatever sizes you want. Since I had one 9 1/2 inch cast iron skillet and one small one, I cut the dough so that one piece was two thirds of the dough and the other was one third the size. You can also simply shape ONE LARGE ROUND if your cast iron skillet is 10-12 inches wide, as this would be too large for two half rounds.
Line a large salad bowl (or bowl of that size) with linen couche or two clean kitchen towels. Sift lots of spelt flour or all purpose flour on the couche or towels to prevent the dough from sticking. The all purpose flour will lend a prettier top. Place the shaped dough bottom side up and wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap to prevent air holes from getting in.
Let the dough ferment again for 10-12 hours in a warm spot in your kitchen until it's doubled in size. You can also choose to slow fermentation down even more and put it in your fridge for up to 24 hours. Once you pull it out of the fridge, if it's not doubled in size, then ferment it at room temp for about 2-3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place a sheet pan, or oven-safe skillet on the bottom rack to allow it to heat up.
When you are ready to bake your bread, remove the plastic wrap from the dough and invert the round shaped dough onto a 7 to 9 inch wide cast iron skillet, or a round cake or brownie pan that has been oiled and floured. If you only have a cast iron skillet that is 10 to 12 inches wide, then take the entire ball of dough and shape into one large round instead of two rounds.
If you wish to bake two rounds and you only have one cast iron skillet, then just bake one round at a time and keep one piece of dough covered in the fridge.
For a large round loaf, score the dough with one line down the middle and diagonal lines down the sides. You can also score with an X too.
Place the loaves or the rounds in the middle rack of the oven. Throw in one cup of ice onto the sheet pan or skillet on the bottom rack and close the oven door imediately to trap the steam.
Bake for about 35-45 minutes, or until the top is a deep brown. For the round, you can check for doneness by removing it from the pan and tapping the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it's ready.
Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into the bread.
You can cool the bread completely, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for future use.
This sourdough bread will stay fresh at room temperature for about one week. Once you have cut into the bread, cover it with plastic wrap.
Using a digital kitchen scale makes it really easy to measure your ingredients.