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Swabian spelt knauzen are one of the simplest and tastiest bread rolls to make. The secret ingredient for great knauzen is time. The dough needs to slowly ferment in the fridge overnight to develop an amazing aroma.
Knauzen are part of a group of bread that is called “Genetztes” in Swabia. What makes these types of bread special is that they are made from a soft dough and shaped with wet hands. No proofing is required. The wet dough goes directly into a hot oven. That way the crumb turns out irregular and the bread has a very rustic look.
In the best case, you have a wooden pizza oven to prepare knauzen. That way, the crust sets up extremely quickly in the hot and dry oven. This will cause the surface to crack. These cracks are the so-called “knauzen”.
The pizza ovens for home use by Ooni are ideal for this task as they are designed to reach the hot and dry heat required to bake rustic bread rolls and pizza at home.
A visual guide to Swabian knauzen
I add Vitamin C in the form of acerola cherry powder to give my knauzen dough more stability. The hydration is 70 % and these are pure spelt bread rolls. The acerola cherry powder strengthens the gluten and gives the bread rolls a bit more volume but it is completely optional and no requirement.
To give the Knauzen dough more stability, you can also prepare it from a blend of 50 % wheat and 50 % spelt flour. If you chose to do so, then I recommend you to increase the hydration to about 75 % as wheat flour can handle higher hydrations than spelt flour.
The risen dough is transferred onto a wet surface. If it’s still fridge-cold and if you work with wet hands, it’s not sticky and quite easy to work with.
Important is that you don’t deflate the dough. Divide it very gently and shape it into round bread rolls with wet hands.
Knauzen are usually baked with dry heat in a pizza oven. If you don’t have a pizza oven, then a regular oven with pre-heated baking steel will do. The heat of the oven should be dry and it should be heated to the highest temperature possible. Then the Knauzen will be ready in less than 10 minutes.
The crumb of knauzen should be fluffy and irregular. I was very pleased with the results from this batch!
Swabian Spelt Water Rolls (‘Schwäbische Dinkelknauzen’)
- 350 grams (12.4 ounces) water, at room temperature
- 0.15 grams (0.005 ounces) acerola cherry powder (optional)
- 5 grams (0.18 ounces) fresh yeast
- 5 grams (0.35 ounces) salt
- 500 grams (17.6 ounces) white spelt flour (German Type 630)
Prepare the dough and leave it to rise:
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and knead the dough until smooth. It’s best to hold back a small amount of the water at first and add it at the end of kneading. The dough should pass the windowpane test after kneading.
- Cover the dough and leave it to rise in the fridge between 16-24 hours. It’s best if the fridge isn’t too cold. 7-8 °C (44-46 °F) works best as the yeast metabolism gets slowed down drastically by lower temperatures. Optionally laminate or stretch and fold the dough after 3 and 6 hours.
Form knauzen and bake them:
- Preheat your oven with baking stone or steel inside to the highest temperature that it can go.
- If your dough hasn’t at least doubled in size in the fridge, then leave it to sit at room temperature until light and airy. Wet your hands and work surface. Gently transfer the dough onto your work surface without deflating it. With a wetted dough scraper, divide the dough into 10 evenly sized pieces. Roughly shape into round bread rolls without deflating the dough and transfer the bread rolls onto a piece of parchment paper.
- Transfer the bread rolls onto your pre-heated baking steel or stone and bake with dry heat at the highest setting your oven can go. Bake the Knauzen until golden brown with a few blackened leopard spots, about 10 minutes at 250 °C (480 °F).
- Lightly spray the knauzen with water immediately after taking them out of the oven to give them a nice sheen.