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 sourdough 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, overnight spelt rye, and my sourdough 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. If you’re a sourdough expert you can certainly shape it into a boule (more on that below) – see the sourdough spelt bread in my book for an example.
Either way, super simple with great results. The crumb is good, the flavour is phenomenal, and it’s virtually no active time!
- Water: room temperature is best.
- Sourdough Starter: rye, wheat, spelt, it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s active.
- Honey: liquid and creamed are both fine as it’s being whisked with the water before mixing.
- 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.
- Rolled Oats: rolled are best, both for texture and flavour.
- Sea Salt: salt is vital to good bread, don’t leave it out.
The easiest and most applicable substitution for this honey oat sourdough is to use bread or AP 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.
Quick-cook oats can be used in a pinch. Oat groats are not appropriate here.
You can use other types of wheat flour, as well – whole wheat, or other ancient grains like einkorn. Whole wheat pastry flour is never a good choice for bread. If you have several different types of flour lying around and need to make up for part of the spelt, a combination is fine too.
To make this loaf fully vegan, use maple syrup in place of the honey.
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. We have a quick tutorial on how to make a sourdough starter over at Baked.
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 sourdough 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.
If you’d prefer a normal sandwich bread, try this honey oat bread made with a yeast method.
More Spelt Breads
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- 350 grams water
- 100 grams active sourdough starter
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 200C (400F).
- 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.
* Dampen your hands with water before stretching to prevent the dough sticking to them.
• With the August 2021 update, the loaf has been slightly reduced in size for a more manageable bread.
• To make this with yeast, use 1/4 teaspoon of dried yeast (or a pea size of fresh) in place of the starter and follow the other instructions as written.
• If you want to make this into a boule, simply shape as you usually would and bake as normal for another round loaf (about 45 minutes, 30 lid on, 15 lid off).
Serving Size:1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 192Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 296mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 7g
This data is provided by a calculator and is a rough estimation of the nutritional information in this recipe.
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.