Sunday, April 17, 2011

The 100% Whole Wheat Experiment, Part #1

100% Whole Wheat Loaf
I love whole wheat bread. When I was young I wasn't a fan, but ever since I started Sparkpeople, I have been trying to move over to whole grains, and now I am a total whole-grain fiend. Unfortunately most of my favorite whole grain loaves (the Whole Grain Tartine Country Bread, a multigrain country baguette from Safeway of all places, and the high extraction miche from Whole Foods) are not 100% whole wheat. Lame. Anyway, I have been on a quest to make fabulous-tasting 100% whole wheat bread.

Originally I tried one of the recipes from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, the whole wheat hearth bread. He mentioned that without honey, sugar, etc, whole grains are very bitter. This seemed to me to be true after tasting the bread which tasted like it had a bitter taste overlaid by molasses (even though I made it with honey). Also the crumb on most of the breads in the book are very dense.

Then I found out that whole wheat flour absorbs a lot more water than white flour, so I decided that if I increased the hydration percentage, I could at least get the crumb that I wanted. So I tried another Reinhart recipe, the Sourdough Whole Wheat from Artisan Breads Every Day, but I increased the hydration percentage to 81%. I figured that this would be enough for an open crumb. Unfortunately, even this did not open the crumb up very much. But I did realize that the flavor of the whole wheat is softened by sourdough. It seems that the extended fermentation helps soften the flavor. This is why desem breads are supposed to taste very sweet. Anyway, I think that I can probably increase the bread by putting a greater amount of water and a greater percentage of starter. I will post the recipe soon. Here are the results:
My scoring is slowly improving...
Crust & Crumb
Still unsatisfactory crumb :~(

I also ended up making some more tartine whole wheat. It's great, but it overproofed.
 More results of various kinds coming soon.


  1. These look really good to me. Have you made any tartine type sandwiches with the bread? I'm interested in getting the cookbook after following your links...

  2. Tartine Bread is great. It makes pretty much fool-proof artisan bread if you follow the directions. And you can improvise a combo cooker with a stone and an overturned large pot.

    I actually had never heard of a Tartine Sandwich until you mentioned it. My mom and I make a lot of open face sandwiches with brie, grilled chicken, and either basil or lettuce, which might be sort of a tartine sandwich. Anyway, I highly recommend the book.