In the multimedia series "Baking Bread," EU correspondent Georg Matthes bakes 28 loaves from 28 EU countries and spices his baking instructions with typical anecdotes about each land. This time, it's a typical Belgian spelt loaf.
For the leaven:
- 200g fine spelt flour
- 200ml water
- 2g salt
- 24g spelt sourdough starter
For the dough:
- 960g spelt flour
- 550ml water
- 20g salt
- 2g fresh yeast (optional)
- 1 tbs polenta or semolina
And this is how you make pain d'épeautre, Belgian spelt bread:
- Mix together the ingredients for the leaven and leave to rise overnight.
- The next day, start on the dough. Mix the spelt flour, water and salt. Add the leaven you made the day before and knead in a stand mixer for 5 minutes.
- If you want to make your bread extra light and airy, crumble in a little fresh yeast at this point, and knead for another eight minutes.
- Place the dough on a countertop and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Fold the dough four times and let it rest for another 30 minutes.
- Now shape the bread into a round or a long loaf. Fold the dough from the edge into the middle from all directions, then turn the dough over with the seam side underneath. Place the bread on a non-floured surface and pull it towards you using both hands until the surface is taut. Leave to rest for another 30 minutes.
- Dust a proofing basket with spelt flour and place the dough in it. Leave to rest in the refrigerator at around 8°C for 20 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 250°C. Place a cast iron pan on the oven floor.
- Turn the dough out onto a pizza paddle that has been dusted with polenta or semolina.
- Once the oven is fully heated, pour half a glass of water into the cast iron pan to create some steam. Put the dough in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- 10 minutes before your bread is due to come out, open and shut the oven door to let out steam. Repeat after 5 minutes. This will ensure a crispy crust.