100% Spelt Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread

100% Spelt Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread

Still working my way through my 2 kg bag of stoneground organic spelt and hoping that I’ll figure this ancient grain out eventually.  I wanted to try again at using only spelt for a Hokkaido milk bread.  My first attempt was tasty but a bit squat for my liking.  Thinking that the gluten net just wasn’t strong enough to retain the pressure of the expanding gases during baking I though that I could improve the bake by increasing the VWG in this recipe.  I also increased the tangzhong to 5% and increased the milk.  

The pH data on the dough are interesting, at the beginning of bulk end of mixing the pH was 5.82 that is about 0.2 higher than a non enriched all spelt dough.  At the end of final proof the pH only fell to 5.71.  So again, using a stiff sweet levain has such a great effect on suppressing the LAB population in the levain and thus reducing their population in the final dough.  It is a great way to ensure that your enriched bread or other sourdough breads have less sour.


Sweet Stiff Levain

• 53g whole spelt flour (stoneground)

• 24g water 

• 18g light brown sugar 

• 18g sourdough starter ~100% hydration 

1:1.33:2.9:1  starter:water:flour:sugar


Tangzhong classic 1:5 ratio

• 115 g milk 

• 23 g Whole Spelt flour   (Stoneground)


Dough Dry Ingredients 

• 22 g vital wheat gluten

      · 424 g whole spelt four    (Sprouted)  

• 30 g sugar 

• 7g salt  1.6%


Dough Wet Ingredients 

• 204 g milk 

• 50g egg beaten (about 1 lg egg)

• 60g butter melted


Pre-bake Wash 

• 1 egg beaten

• 1 Tbsp milk



Mix the levain ingredients in a jar or pyrex container with space for at least 300% growth. 

Press down with your knuckles to create a uniform surface and to push out air.

At a temperature of 76ºF, it typically takes up to 10-12 hours for this sweet stiff levain to be at peak.  For my starter I typically see 3-3.5 times increase in size at peak.  The levain will smell sweet with only a mild tang.  If you were to measure the pH you might find that the pH only drops  0.1-0.3.



In a sauce pan set on medium heat, stir the milk and flour until blended. Then cook for several minutes until well thickened, stirring regularly with a spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Let cool in the pan or, for faster results, in a new bowl.  Theoretically it should reach 65ºC (149ºF) but I don’t find I need to measure the temperature as the tangzhong gelatinizes at this temperature.   If you prepare this when you prepare the levain, allow it to cool a bit then place in fridge overnight to use in the morning.



 In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk, egg, tangzhong, salt, sugar and levain.  Mix and then break up the levain into smaller pieces.  Next add the flour and vital wheat gluten.  I like to use my spatula to mix until there aren’t many dry areas.  Mix on low speed and then medium speed until moderate gluten development this may take 5-10 mins the dough will seem quite stiff and dry.  Next drizzle in the melted butter a little at a time.  The dough may come apart, be patient, continue to mix until it comes together before drizzling in more butter.  Once all the butter has been added and incorporated increase the speed gradually to medium.  Mix at medium until the gluten is well developed, approximately 10 mins.  You can consider resting the dough intermittently during this time  You should be able to pull a good windowpane, not quite as good as a white flour because the bran will interrupt the windowpane somewhat.


Interesting note, although the total hydration is relatively high, the dough handles as if it were low.  The hydration added in a tangzhong doesn’t seem to affect the dough handling.


On the counter, shape the dough into a tight ball, cover in the bowl and ferment for 2.5-3.5 hours at 82ºF.  There may be some rise visible at this stage.

You can next place the dough into the fridge to chill the dough for about 1.5 hours, this makes rolling the dough easier to shape.  Remember, if you do so the final proof will take longer.  Alternatively, you can do a cold retard in the fridge overnight, however, you may find that this increases the tang in your bread.


Prepare your pans by greasing them or line with parchment paper.  


Lightly flour the top of the dough. Scrape the dough out onto a clean counter top and divide it into four. I like to weigh them to have equal sized lobes. Shape each tightly into a boule, allow to rest 5 mins. Using a rolling pin roll each ball out and then letterfold. Turn 90* and using a rolling pin roll each out to at least 8”. Letterfold again from the sides so you have a long narrow dough. Then using a rolling pin, roll flatter but keeping the dough relatively narrow.  The reason to do this extra letterfold is that the shorter fatter rolls when placed in the pan will not touch the sides of the pan.  This allows the swirled ends to rise during final proof, this is only done for appearance sake and is not necessary.  Next roll each into a tight roll with some tension. Arrange the rolls of dough inside your lined pan alternating the direction of the swirls, seem side down, ends of rolls facing the sides of the pan and smooth side up.  This should allow a greater rise during proof and in the oven.


Cover and let proof for 6-8 hours, longer time if you chilled your dough for shaping. I proof until the top of the dough comes to within 1 cm of the top edge of the pan.


Preheat the oven to 350F and brush the dough with the egg-milk wash.  Just prior to baking brush with the egg-milk wash again.



Bake the loaves for 50 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 190ºF, rotating as needed to get even browning. Shield your loaf if it gets brown early in the baking process. After 50 mins remove the bread from the pan and bake a further 10 mins by placing the loaf directly in the oven on the rack with the oven turned down to 325ºF. You can brush the top of the loaf with butter if you wish at this point while the bread is still hot to keep the top crust soft.

Still more squat than I want, my formula needs more work!