Apart from rather too ‘rustic’ an appearance, craggy crusts can snag on the knife and make cutting even slices difficult.


Spelt has a less elastic type of gluten than ordinary wheat and its structure ‘breaks down’ more quickly during fermentation, especially with sourdough. So what you are seeing is, to some extent, in the nature of spelt. To lessen this effect, try shortening the refreshment time of your production sourdough (say to three hours rather than four), keep the dough temperature down a bit and shorten the final proof, even at the risk of putting the bread in the oven rather sooner than you think is right. You could also ‘slash’ the loaf just before you put it in the oven a little deeper than usual to try to guide the natural splits that appear on most crusts during baking.

It’s worth remembering that this ‘breaking down’ of spelt’s protein is probably one of the main reasons why spelt is often easier to digest than common wheat. If the gluten bonds are already weakened or broken before the bread is baked and eaten, the human gastro-intestinal tract has less work to do and there is less chance of inappropriate fermentation in the lower gut (leading to bloating etc). Industrial enzymes in most factory bread are designed to have exactly the opposite effect on gluten, i.e. to strengthen it and prevent it from breaking down too soon. It doesn’t take a bio-chemist to see which is likely to be easier on the stomach.