This is a totally appropriate recipe for beginners, and sourdough has many benefits. It’s much better for digestion and digestive health, can help to reduce inflammation, has a better flavour, and it’s ideal for people with some gluten sensitivity.
This spelt version is even better if you’re mildly sensitive to wheat gluten, like I am, because it’s an older grain variety and the long fermentation time makes it much easier on your system. Of course you can use regular wheat flour if you prefer (see the substitutions below). Either way sourdough is a good choice!
I typically rotate between this honey and oat sourdough, sourdough rye bread, and my dark rye bread. The recipe has been updated to use a loaf tin, as spelt bread is much harder to shape due to the lower gluten content and this is a fairly high hydration bread. For a boule, see my basic spelt sourdough, and for a yeast version, make this honey oat bread.
In any case, this recipe is very simple, with excellent results. The crumb is good, the flavour is phenomenal, and it needs virtually no active time.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Sourdough starter: rye, wheat, spelt, it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s active and 100% hydration (made with equal parts flour and water).
- Honey: liquid and creamed are both fine as it’s being whisked with the water before mixing. To make this loaf fully vegan, use maple syrup in place of the honey.
- Spelt flour: whole grain or white (light), or a mix of the two. I usually do 100% whole grain but recommend starting with 50/50 if it’s your first time making spelt sourdough. The easiest and most applicable substitution for this recipe is to use bread or white flour in place of spelt. If you live in Europe you may also be able to get spelt bread flour (type 812, or 1050 in a pinch), which I recommend if you can find it.
- Rolled oats: rolled are best, both for texture and flavour. Quick-cook oats can be used in a pinch. Oat groats are not appropriate here.
Step by Step
Step 1: mix the starter, honey, and water in a large bowl.
Step 2: add the dry ingredients and mix into a shaggy dough.
Step 3: do three rounds of stretches and folds.
Step 4: after folding, cover the dough and set aside.
Step 5: let the dough rise overnight, until doubled in size.
Step 6: turn it out and form a rough rectangle.
Step 7: roll the dough into a spiral.
Step 8: transfer into a lined bread tin, seam-side down.
Step 9: cover and set aside to rise again.
Step 10: bake until golden brown and cool before slicing.
Sourdough Versus Yeast
Originally, this recipe called for a rye starter because it’s what I typically use. It’s been altered now to reflect that any gluten-containing starter will work – all-purpose, rye, spelt, whatever you usually make it from. It should be 100% hydration.
Alternatively, you can use yeast as outlined in the recipe. It still benefits from the long fermentation time and you only need a little bit. The flavour will be slightly different with yeast, rather less sour, so keep that in mind.
There are instructions on how to make a rye starter in my book.
Again, this is a beginner friendly recipe, and we’re not going to talk about hydration percentages. It seems like the amounts are off but they’re not – the oats aren’t soaked before adding, so they absorb a significant amount of water during the bulk fermentation.
Please note that whole grain spelt will absorb more than white (light) spelt will, and you may need to use more or less flour during shaping depending on the ratio used.
Stretching and Shaping
It seems that now many more people are making sourdough and I’ve received a number of questions about this recipe differing from typical bread-flour loaves lately. Please note that this is a recipe for people who aren’t necessarily familiar with sourdough, and one that uses a low gluten flour, and has been developed specifically for that.
The recipe benefits from three rounds of stretches and folds, one every half hour, before the bulk fermentation. The recipe is outlined for a loaf tin, which is easier in terms of shaping and more accessible. Originally the recipe didn’t call for any folding, like my dark rye bread, but now that sourdough baking is much more common it seems safe to assume that most people will know what it means and how to do it.
If you want to shape it into a boule, feel free to do so, and treat it like any other loaf (note that the dough is harder to work with). You can, of course, do a longer second fermentation in the refrigerator if you prefer.
Since this is a low-gluten loaf, you won’t develop the gluten in the same way that you would with one that uses bread flour or even all-purpose. It is possible to shape quite easily, though, if you have some experience doing so.
Baking Sourdough in a Loaf Tin
To make a sandwich bread, line a standard loaf tin with parchment paper and place the (shaped) dough into it following bulk fermentation. If you find shaping is too tricky at this point, don’t worry – even if you just scoop the dough into the tin, it’ll still rise well.
Using this method will result in a softer and lighter outer crust – not comparable to sandwich bread, but definitely not a crusty country style loaf. This is also a bit easier and safer if you’re hesitant about turning the bread out into such a hot container before baking, or if you don’t have a Dutch oven or other appropriate baking dish.
More Spelt Bread Recipes
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Easy No-Knead Honey and Oat Sourdough
- 350 grams water
- 100 grams active sourdough starter 100% hydration
- 50 grams honey
- 450 grams spelt flour
- 120 grams rolled oats
- 9 grams sea salt
- Add the water, starter, and honey to a large mixing bowl. Stir until fully combined.350 grams water, 100 grams active sourdough starter, 50 grams honey
- Add the flour, oats, and salt to the bowl. Stir until fully combined and you have a shaggy dough. Cover with a damp tea towel or plate.450 grams spelt flour, 120 grams rolled oats, 9 grams sea salt
- Do three rounds of stretches and folds*, once every 20 minutes, over the course of an hour.
- Once the folds are completed, cover the dough again and set aside to rest overnight, about 12 hours, until doubled in size.
- Line a loaf tin with parchment paper and set aside.
- Tip the dough out onto a floured working surface. Gently press into a rough rectangle (the short edge should be about the same as the length of your baking tin).
- Roll the dough into a log from the short end. Place the rolled up loaf into your prepared loaf tin, seam side down.
- Cover with a tea towel and set aside to proof again at room temperature until risen almost to the edge of the tin, 2-3 hours (it may be less if your home is very warm).
- Once the loaf has risen, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
- Bake the bread for 45-50 minutes, or until a dark golden colour and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
- Cool the bread in the tin for about ten minutes before removing and cooling fully on a rack. It should be fully cooled before slicing to prevent any gumminess – cool overnight for best results.
- This bread keeps very well for a week on the counter, but avoid wrapping it in plastic as that ruins the crust. I wrap it in a tea towel and store in the oven, but beeswax wrap works well too.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
This post was originally published in January 2018. It has been updated most recently with improvements to the text and recipe as of August 2021.
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