Finnriver Journal

... With thanks to Brandon Buza (@the_fermented_life on IG) for this fabulous and technical pan loaf recipe featuring the Elwha River Spelt. Updated 7/22/20.

Finnriver Spelt Pan Loaf Recipe by The Fermented Life

Jul 11, 2020

Finnriver Spelt - Pan Loaf by Brandon Buza

Jul 22, 2020


Spelt, 940g, 100%
Water, 970g, 103%
Salt, 22g, 2.3%
Starter, 15g, 1.6%

Makes 2 Loaves (Before you start, confirm that you have baking pans that fit into your Dutch oven. See notes at bottom).

9:00 PM: Mix Levain

15g: Stiff, Mature Levain
110g: Finnriver Spelt
70g: Water (80 F)
Note that the mix will be sticky/messy to handle. Use bench knife to remove excess dough from hands and use spatula to clean down the sides of the bowl. Cover with plastic (I like to use a shower cap) and set aside.

8:00 AM (Next Day): Autolyse

830g: Finnriver Spelt 
740g: Water (100-110 F)
In a large bowl mix flour and water well. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.

8:30 AM: Mix in Levain

In a small bowl thoroughly mix all of the levain with 120 grams of water (100-110 F). Once mixed then add to the flour. Mix well (by hand or mixer) & cover. Est. mix time is 7 minutes by hand.

9:00 AM: Mix In Salt

In a small bowl thoroughly mix 22g of salt with 40g of water (100-110 F). Once mixed add to the dough. Use a small piece of dough to swab out any remaining salt from your small mixing bowl. Mix well and cover. Est. mix time is roughly 5 minutes by hand. When properly mixed it should have a silky appearance and be on the cusp of passing the windowpane test.  Be careful not to overmix dough.

9:00 AM to 11:30 AM:Bulk Fermentation

During the first two hours of bulk, perform a series of four (4) stretch and folds. One (1) fold EVERY 30 mins. Hold the dough temp at 78-80 F during this time. After 2 hours I expect the dough to be domed and with an increase in volume of @20%. After 2 hours and 30 minutes the dough should have increased in volume by 1/3rd with a few large bubbles forming on the surface. Towards the end it will feel very gassy. Be very gentle with the final two folds. I use a Brod & Taytler proofer to hold temp.  Preheat the oven with the dutch oven inside to 525 F so it's ready to go at 12:45 pm.

11:30 AM:Oil Pans

Spray oil in two baking pans. I use Lodge L4LP3 cast iron (10" L, 5" W, 2.75" D) but you can use any variety of loaf pans including inexpensive foil pans. This said I prefer the cast iron. Fully spray the sides of your pan with oil. I use PAM or Canola Oil. This step is important as it will help you remove the loaf from the pan cleanly once removed from the oven. 

Sesame Seeds (Optional) 

If you don’t have sesame seeds don't fret as the bread will still taste great on account of the richness of the spelt but if you like sesame this is a great add.  After the pan has been sprayed pour roughly a 1/4 cup into one baking pan. Tilt the pan to each side to cover the walls.  If the seeds do not stick just apply more spray in the uncoated spots.  Once the sides are covered pour the remaining seeds into the next pan.  Add extra seeds as needed.  Seeds will also help you to cleanly remove the loaf from the pan after baking.

11:35 AM: Divide

Carefully dump your dough onto a damp work surface. With a damp hand and bench knife divide evenly and gently work the dough into two rounds. If the dough sticks to your knife or hand just use a little water (not flour) to prevent sticking.

With a damp hand and bench knife shape the into tight rounds (or at least as tight as you can given the high hydration). Do not overwork.

Shape (Read Carefully)

If you are comfortable shaping wet dough then follow the shaping steps below. If NOT simply lift each round into an oiled baking pan with your bench knife.  Once in the pan make sure the dough is cleanly inside by pushing down the dough anywhere that it is sticking to the side of the pan. 

Create a damp work surface and with a wet hand and damp bench knife move the dough to your work area. Working quickly, yet purposefully, shape the dough into a rough square shape but do not degas your dough in the process. Starting with the sides fold them to meet in the center. Then do the same with the top and bottom. With your scraper lift the dough into the pan seam up.  Once in the pan scrape any dough from the sides and stitch the top of the dough once or twice. This will give it a clean, perfect shape.


Cover the baking pans with a plastic cover at return to the proofer at 78-80 F.

12:45 PM: Bake

If you have held the right dough temp you should expect the loaf to be extremely gassy / lumpy at the end of an hour. Volume should increase by @20%. If you are using the same rectangular Lodge pan you should expect the dough to be at or above the top of the pan at 12:45 pm (this comment is only valid if you use the same pan otherswise ignore reference.) and you will see small and large bubbles. At this point the dough it ready for the oven. If using a dutch oven be sure to use the cover.  

NOTE: Be careful when moving the pan / dough as you do not want to degas the dough.

Scoring (optional). Scoring will be messy and seem ineffective. Working with a clean lame / razor, score in a single line down the center but perform in two or three short strokes. Score at a 90 degree angle using with a clean edge for each score. Score quickly and at a depth of @1/8".  For asthetics dust the loaf with rice flour.

Bake the loaf for 21 minutes at 500 F and then remove the top to the dutch oven, rotate, and bake for another 19 minutes at 440 F. I remove the loaf when I am happy with the color of the crust (generally dark brown). If you want to be sure it's fully baked check the interior dough temp with a meat thermometer at the end.  We want the inside temp be at least 195 F.  

When done remove from the oven and gently shake out the bread from the pan and set on a cooling rack.  Wait for the bread to cool before cutting.  Work quickly when removing your bread and use appropriate safety equipment including good oven mitts.  

Important Comments / Baking Notes:

When I make two loaves I use a Lodge L14DCO3 10 Quart dutch oven that fits both pans side by side.  I understand most people don't have a 10Q pot so be prepared to stagger your bake if you make two loaves.  If you half the recipe and only make a single loaf you can use a smaller dutch oven. This said If you don’t have a large dutch oven or a way to bake both pans together then follow the instructions below for baking loaves back to back.

Given the importance of putting the loaf into the oven before it is over-proofed, you can leave one of the two pans out of the proofer on the counter after bulk.  A cooler counter temp of say 72-74 F will buy you time to get the first loaf in and out of the oven and ready for the second loaf. 

Enjoy! Given the high hydration your bread should last for days without drying out.