100% Spelt Sourdough Bread

Ancient grains like spelt, leavened with wild yeasts found in sourdough cultures, produce bread that fits on a low FODMAP diet.  Those suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or gastrointestinal  (GI) problems after eating processed foods or gluten may actually be reacting to fructans.  Wheat (along with onions) is thought to contribute 95% of the fructans that can cause GI distress. Fructans are carbohydrates that require an enzyme to breakdown. If this enzyme is not available to breakdown the chains of fructose, fructans can cause discomfort.

Spelt is an ancient grain mentioned in the bible as one that can be grown even during a drought. So even though it is a type of wheat, it contians fewer fructans than other varieties of wheat.  The fermentation process that occurs when wild yeasts are used in spelt bread further breakdown any naturally ocurring fructans. The result is a bread that fits well on a low FODMAP diet.

Most spelt bread found in bakeries or grocery stores have only a small amount of spelt flour in them. The rest contain all sorts of grains that do not fit in a low FODMAP diet. Making your own 100% spelt sourdough bread takes just a few special ingredients and only a little hands on time.  Spelt flour is found in most grocery stores or markets that sell specialty flours. I grind my own flour using whole spelt berries from the field or grocery store. It is so amazing for kids and even adults to watch those tiny berries of spelt turn into a flowing river of flour.

4 year old Carson takes his job of holding the cup to catch the freshly ground spelt flour very serious.
Four year-old Carson takes his job of holding the cup to catch the freshly milled spelt very serious.

Spelt has several unique characteristics. Spelt flour absorbs more water than other grains so the dough has a higher hydration and will be slightly stickier than other bread doughs.  Spelt has fewer fructans than other wheat and those are broken down further during the long fermentation period by the bacteria in a sourdough culture.  Refrigerating the dough after it is kneaded is the best way to create the perfect atmosphere for fermentation to take place.

Spelt can be sprouted, rolled like oats or soaked to be used in recipes. For this bread, the spelt is milled into flour and used just like any other flour.

The whole spelt goes into the top of the hopper and can be ground into coarse or fine flour.
The whole spelt grains go into the top of the hopper and can be milled into coarse to very fine flour.

Spelt bread takes a little longer to bake because of the higher level of hydration. The most reliable way to tell when the bread is done is to use a thermometer to determine the internal temperature. Many experts recommend whole grains be baked to 205 degrees but that really depends on how tight the crumb is. This loaf of spelt sourdough was removed from the oven when it reached 200 degrees. The crumb was moist but not doughy.

The internal temperature should be at least 200 degrees for 100% whole grain.
The internal temperature should be at least 200 degrees for 100% whole grain bread.

Spelt bread can be baked in a multitude of shapes. The recipe is perfect for one 9 x 5-inch loaf pan or it can be shaped into two round balls. Slash the top of the loaves to allow for oven spring, that instantaneous  rise when the dough hits the heat of the oven.  The slash in the top of the dough gives a place for the bread to rise.

Spelt bread in loaf pan.
100% whole spelt sourdough bread  can be baked in a loaf pan as well as in a boule shape.  This loaf of bread was slashed down the center to allow for oven rise.

Whole grain breads are known for having a tighter, denser crumb. Several ingredients in this recipe give spelt bread a great flavor and texture. Orange juice contains vitamin C which helps give a good rise to each loaf. Vital wheat gluten is added to give more strength to the cells. The sourdough culture helps increase the keeping quality of the bread. The potato flakes act as a dough conditioner.  All of these together produce a great-tasting loaf.


100% Spelt Sourdough bread has a tight, flavorful crumb.
100% whole wheat bread  typically has a tight,dense crumb like the loaf above. The loaf in the photo below is lighter in texture with a wonderful  crumb. The difference is the addition of orange juice to enhance the texture of the crumb, extra gluten to increase the elasticity of the dough and less salt since too much salt interferes with the proofing of the dough.
Start this 100% spelt sourdough bread with a wild yeast culture that is vigorous. Test by spooning a small amount of culture in a dish of water. If it floats, it is ready to use in bread. If you are unsure if it is ready, just add 1/4 teaspoon of quick acting yeast to the recipe to make sure the bread rises well.
Start this 100% spelt sourdough bread with a wild yeast culture that is vigorous. Test by spooning a small amount of culture (aka starter) in a dish of water. If it floats, it is ready to use in bread. If you are unsure if it is ready, just add 1/4 teaspoon of quick acting yeast to the recipe to make sure the bread rises well. Go ahead and add the 1 cup of starter even if you decide to add a little yeast.

100% Spelt Sourdough Bread

1 cup spelt sourdough starter
3 cups spelt flour
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons instant potato flakes
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons melted butter

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, mixing well.  Knead until mixture forms a slightly sticky, smooth dough about 5 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and turn to bring greased side up. Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator overnight or about 8 to 12 hours.

Form dough into a loaf or two round boules. Place in a greased loaf pan or baking pan.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for several hours or until almost double in size.

Bake in 375° oven for 40 to 45 minutes for loaf shape or until internal temperature reaches 200°.  Two smaller, round boules will bake in about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in the pan about 10 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack. Slice and serve warm or store in an airtight container when cool.




  1. JoAnn Moquist

    This looks AMAZING!!

    • Jacque Nyenhuis

      Hi JoAnn,
      I am glad you think it looks good. I learned so much about bread baking from you and the others in North Dakota. I always said that there are “several generations of experience” in many of your families. This recipe will work in your bread machine too. Just make sure it is the same size of loaf that fits your particular bread machine.

  2. Hi Jacque, I was at the life class you hosted at Lake Nona Friday. I took home with me your starter for sour dough bread but now I don’t know what to do. I have it in a glass jar. I fed it 1/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup water. I’ll wait 11hours. Then what? I would love to share that wonderful bread you shared with the class to my family.
    Thank you for a fun presentation.

    • Jacque Nyenhuis

      Your starter is ready to make bread. Use it in the recipe as directed. You can use less sourdough starter than the recipe calls for, if you are a little short, no worries. (Some recipes only use 1/4 cup or less). Feed the remaining starter water and flour about every 12 hours if you want to keep it strong. Store it in the refrigerator if you want to take a break from feeding.

  3. Hi there! Sorry if I’m just not reading closely enough and you answered this – but why is the nonfat dry milk powder okay for low FODMAPers in this recipe? It still contains lactose, right? Should I be looking for lactose free dry milk powder? Thank you!

    • Jacque Nyenhuis

      Hi Becca,
      You are right that nonfat dry milk contains lactose, it can be omitted from this recipe with no substitution made for it. It adds protein to the spelt bread but the bread is still delicious without it. One important distinction to make about a low FODMAP Diet is that it does not need to be dairy-free. Many people with lactose intolerance can consume up to 12g to 15g of lactose per day, so it is worth testing to see if you can tolerate bread made with milk since it is an added source of protein.Each tablespoon of dry milk powder has 2.27g of lactose, (about three times the amount in a slice of bread and well below the level most people can tolerate even when lactose intolerant).

  4. Hi there.
    I realize this is a lot of altering, but is it possi Le to make this bread with just the starter, salt, spelt flour and water?

  5. Jacque Nyenhuis

    Hi Annika,
    I am so glad you thought to ask that question because it is possible to make it with just those ingredients. You will find that the final bread will be coarse and heavy which is exactly what bread us to be several generations ago. I really like a heavy, simple bread like 100% spelt but most people are more accustomed to fluffy breads today. Good luck with your experiment and let me know how it turns out.


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