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Would like to ask a question based on your experience in bread making. We have made in our house several loafs of bread in various shapes and sizes and with many different methods, manually, robot assisted, etc. Right now, the one we are doing involves Bio German Spelt 630 flour, water, olive oil and powdered baker's yeast. the only thing we don't place is anything with any gluten (or at least that has anything beyond just a very tiny portion of it) They all come out yummy :)

So what is the problem? Well they all break in the middle of it when they grow and are baking, even in the English cake tin we are currently using for it. It's really frustrating because we have used several recipes, oven temperatures, metal and silicone based utensils, everything.

Is it related to low gluten and the fact it's obviously not as elastic as your normal wheat bread?

Thanks in advance.

Alban

  • related : cooking.stackexchange.com/q/47027/67 – Joe Sep 23 '14 at 20:49
  • As spelt is low gluten, I don't know how much of an effect slashing the loaf would be, but that might look more 'bread-like' than the recommendations for dealing w/ cakes. – Joe Sep 23 '14 at 20:50
  • not every single one breaks in half, but all do break while doming... I can't make it cook in the outside quick enough before the crust domes :( – Alban Lusitanae Sep 23 '14 at 20:58
  • @AlbanLusitanae as in my answer, this is due to the wrong microclimate in your oven, or wrong handling of the dough, or both. It is not about the spelt. And the cake doming advice doesn't apply, because you are dealing with proper kneaded bread dough (which, as I said in another comment, is not low in gluten at all, especially the 630 which has much more protein than white flour), and not with a baking-powder-leavened cake batter. – rumtscho Sep 23 '14 at 21:21
  • What do you mean break in half? Is there a void in the middle, does is split? Can you post a picture? – GdD Sep 24 '14 at 10:32
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I would like to clarify a couple points from the question and the comments here. First of all, remember that flour (wheat or spelt) does not contain gluten. Gluten only forms as a complex protein once two simpler proteins in flour, gliadin and glutenin, are hydrated. And while not all of the protein in flour will form gluten in the presence of water, the overall protein content in flour is usually used a proxy to represent the gluten-forming capability of the flour. So flours that are higher in protein typically form more gluten in the presence of water and kneading.

Now, having said all that, spelt 630 flour actually contains much more protein (~16%) than wheat 812 bread flour (~13%). While 3% protein content might not sound like much, it makes a significant difference when making bread.

Again, your spelt 630 flour will generate MORE gluten in your dough than a typical bread flour. It is considered a high-protein flour.

I would suggest that much of your problem might stem from over-kneading your bread. Gluten in dough is a bread's best friend only up to a point. If your gluten network in the dough is over-established, your baked bread will bake-up dense and dry and could conceivably split through during baking.

So a dough with overdeveloped gluten would be something like the proverbial hardwood tree in a storm - the tree that breaks because it doesn't bend.

While I believe the scoring point made above is absolutely relevant, I don't think an un-scored loaf would split through if there wasn't a problem with the bread dough itself.

I think the best solution to your splitting problem would be to mix-in some different lower protein flours to drop the protein content of the spelt flour. If that option is off the table, then consider kneading much less (probably stay away from the mechanical kneading unless you're making batches too large to manage by hand). If you can manage the kneading by hand, you should feel that magical dough elasticity that signals when it's time to stop.

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Is it related to no gluten and the fact it's obviously not as elastic as your normal wheat bread?

No, it isn't. First of all: spelt is not gluten-free. It is very closely related to wheat, and has lots of gluten in it.

Second, you make it sound as if you suspect that spelt bread will always have a split crust. But this is not the case, spelt breads don't always split.

I would look at the usual culprits for split crusts, there are many of them, and work the same way on spelt and normal wheat. They include improper scoring, improper rising (especially using too much yeast), wrong oven temperature, or doing nothing to soften the crust, to name just a few. It is impossible to guess what goes wrong from your description. If you need such high quality that a split crust is a problem for you, you need to learn the basic process for making yeast leavened breads, for example from Peter Reinhart's books.

  • never said the spelt was gluten free, but it does not have lots of gluten on it; even if it did, it would not be the gluten we have today (reason why the wheat in the past didn't cause the issues it causes today) – Alban Lusitanae Sep 23 '14 at 20:56
  • @AlbanLusitanae OK, that was a misunderstanding, I took "no gluten" to mean a completely gluten-free diet, this is much more common than reduced-gluten diets. But you are wrong about the amount of gluten in spelt, McGee gives it at 16% for hard spelt and 15% for soft spelt, while "bread" wheat is given at 10 to 15%. So, in fact, spelt has at least as much gluten as standard wheat, if not more. It is indeed slightly different than bread gluten, and less elastic, but "less" is relative here. From my experience with home- and bakery-baked spelt breads, it bakes fine without splitting. – rumtscho Sep 23 '14 at 21:17
  • Mine baked during 20', 220ºC. How much time did you do yours? Also I used a robot to mechanically knead it so no errors there as well... – Alban Lusitanae Sep 24 '14 at 19:00
  • I don't know how long my bread takes to bake, and if I knew, it would be irrelevant anyway, as it varies with oven size, tin material, loaf size and lots of other stuff. As for the "robot", this doesn't mean that there were no errors. If you mean that you used a mixer, this just automates the kneading step (and the results are OK, but actually somewhat inferior to good hand kneading), but doesn't make sure that you followed a proper process, in which the kneading is one small step, or that you used the right amount of kneading. If you mean that you used an automated bread baking machine, – rumtscho Sep 24 '14 at 19:12
  • this is still no guarantee, because these machines aren't especially good. They save time, but the bread they make is not as good as properly made handmade bread. And the more your recipe differs from what the manufacturer expects you to make (such as you using 630 spelt flour instead of 450 wheat flour), the more its parameters are incompatible with your recipe, and its quality becomes even worse. – rumtscho Sep 24 '14 at 19:13
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I have done some investigation, and this is what I found. The gluten in spelt is water soluble; it is degraded by heat and is easily broken down by mixing action. Wheat gluten, in contrast, does not break down in water and only relaxes when exposed to heat and seems to get stronger as it is mixed – bakers refer to it as “developing the gluten.” If you over mix spelt, it will break down. If you over mix wheat, it will get stronger.

This basically means I am using the same kneading time for spelt and wheat alike, which means in all comparison I'm doing it right in wheat but overkneading in spelt... :(

  • Hi Alban, our rules explicitly declare nutrition off topic. It is OK if you have determined to eat spelt for health reasons and ask us how to cook it correctly, but discussions on how it is digested don't belong on our site. Our content is judged/upvoted by laypeople, and it is way too easy to spread plausible sounding misinformation that way, so we just don't do it. This is why I edited out some parts of your answer. The rest is perfectly OK with the rules. – rumtscho Sep 25 '14 at 20:30
  • As for your idea of overkneading: it's possible to happen, but I'm not sure it is your problem. A small correction: wheat gluten can be overkneaded too, and it breaks down then. You notice it as soon as it happens, the dough doesn't form a cohesive ball any more, but becomes limp and grainy. It is possible that spelt gluten is overkneaded earlier, and that you didn't recognize overkneaded dough if you haven't experienced it before - it is certainly worth a try to knead less and see what happens. – rumtscho Sep 25 '14 at 20:33
  • @rumtcscho Edit agreed. And yes I believe there are now different Gluten Overkneading points for different cereals, just pointing out to all that can be a problem, don't take a kneading time for granted in every cereal... – Alban Lusitanae Sep 26 '14 at 12:35

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