My Spelt Sourdough Journey

When I first went gluten free for health reasons 14 years ago, I missed lots of things, but I missed bread – good bread – most of all. My quest for delicious bread that helped me feel my best is what pushed me to develop my brand of Full ‘N Free dough mixes, bringing delicious, wholesome, homemade goodness back into gluten free. But even once I had my recipes down to a perfect science and enjoyed my bread at least once a week, I still couldn’t eat bread every day if I wanted to feel my best.

Over the course of my training in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and beyond, I reached out to numerous nutrition experts in the hopes that they would have something else to recommend. They did: sourdough. The medical professionals told me that spelt sourdough would be a better choice if I was planning to eat bread often. Although wheat sourdough is much lower in gluten than standard wheat bread, spelt sourdough was the ideal option for someone with autoimmune issues.

Me being me, I needed to find out exactly what I was up against. I asked a few renowned sourdough experts and they all gave me similar answers: spelt is an inconsistent grain to work with in sourdough. Sometimes it works, but more often than not, it doesn’t, and you never know what will make it tick. In short, don’t bother!

Then, on a visit to Israel, I met up with a tremendously knowledgeable and generous holistic health consultant and retired chef, Esther Black (@EstherBlack.health). She made me a loaf of spelt sourdough, and I loved it. Not only did it not make me feel weighed down, bloated or uncomfortable, but I actually felt better after eating it than I felt when I ate my own painstakingly developed oat challah! Esther hosted me in her kitchen for 2 days, teaching me her method for spelt sourdough making.

Once I tried Esther's recipe in America, though, I found it to be more sticky than hers, and somewhat inconsistent, just like the experts had said! I suspected that my mix would improve its consistency and reliability. My spelt dough mix is a unique blend of spelt and coconut flour with added sea salt. The coconut flour adds properties to spelt that improve its absorbency, moistness and elasticity. I figured I’d give it a try. My goal was to take Esther’s techniques, adjust the ingredients, and remove as many steps as possible to make the recipe as simple and consistent as I could.

Esther spent literally countless hours on the phone with me over the next few months, helping me develop, troubleshoot, and refine a close-to-foolproof recipe that mimicked hers using my spelt dough mix.

It took 28 tries – yes, I was counting – until it worked. It worked, and worked again, and kept working so well that I am excited and confident to share the tried-and-tested, lovingly developed recipe and method with you, plus all the tips I picked up along the way, from scheduling your baking sessions to troubleshooting advice, along with clear and fun-to-watch video demos taken right in my kitchen.

THANK YOU, ESTHER, for taking the time to teach me, and for bringing spelt sourdough joy to such a wide group of people all over the world!

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