Friday, February 22, 2013

The 100% Whole Wheat Project, Part I

85% Whole Wheat Loaves
So everyone knows that 100% whole grain bread if the most nutritious. For a long time, I have wanted to make a 100% whole wheat bread that tastes delicious, but I've run into issues. Red whole wheat tends to be bitter when in levels above 70% or so. And, honestly, I just don't like the flavor of white whole wheat on it's own, so when I use it I supplement it with red whole wheat and other grains like barley which tends to ameliorate the distasteful flavor. I did this with great success in my last loaves.
Crumb shot
However, I still wanted to work out a 100% Red Whole Wheat loaf. Not yet satisfied with the loaves from Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, although the book is an unbelievably rich resource for information about bread baking (a topic to which I will return in a forthcoming post), I looked for other possibilities. My goal, ultimately, is to make a 100% whole wheat bread with an irregular, open crumb, a crunchy crust, and a hearty, complex, wheaty, but not bitter, flavor. The catch is that I want to make the bread out of only wheat, flour, salt, and sourdough starter. Can it be done? I don't know, but I'm going to find out.
Amazing Bloom on the Loaf
I was very excited when I noticed a 100% whole wheat in Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread. However, when I actually stared reading the recipe, it sounded very much like one of my favorite recipe's, Tartine's 70% whole wheat bread, with the notable exception that it was 100% whole wheat. So I figured that I would start by changing the Tartine version into an 85% loaf, and if it seemed to go well, I would make a 100% loaf. It did go very well, although the crumb was not quite as open as I had hoped, either because of my folding method or because I left it for 16 hours in the fridge instead of 12. Also, the bottom crust was a little too bitter, but it was good.

  • 200g Leaven (1tbsp starter, 100g whole wheat flour, 100g water)
  • 850g +50g water (75 degrees F)
  • 150g unbleached bread flour
  • 850g whole wheat flour
  • 20g salt
 The Leaven ("young" starter)

  1. Take 1 tablespoon of mature starter and put it in a small bowl.
  2. Add 100g water (about 75degrees F) to the starter.
  3. Then add 2000g whole wheat flour and mix them into the water and starter until it comes together as a dough.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or similar and let sit until it passes the float test. This should take about 12 hours, depending upon the vitality of your starter. When it is ready, it should smell very sweet-- like overripe fruit.
  5. There will probably be 10-20 grams left over. You can add these in or use them to mix a new starter.
The Final Dough
  1. Mix the leaven (all of it) with the 850g water.
  2. Then add the whole wheat and bread flours and mix until the dough comes together.
  3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or equivalent and let rest (autolyse) for 45-60 minutes.
  4. After the autolyse, add the salt and the last 50g of water in a little bit at a time, using the water to help the salt dissolve and incorporate into the dough. Make sure that you pinch the dough around the salt and incorporate it throughout the dough. Try not to tear the dough, but you do want to vigorously incorporate the salt.
  5. Move the dough into a heavy glass or plastic bowl, preferably a deep on with a fairly small diameter on the opening in order to keep the heat in.
  6. Stretch the dough and bring it in toward the center like this. Be careful not to degas the dough too much. Do this all the way around the dough to make sure that you develop the dough evenly.
  7. Place the dough in a place between 78 and 82 degrees F. You can improvise a proofbox by placing a pot of boiling water in an unheated oven beside the dough.
  8. After 30 minutes, stretch and fold the seeds, oats, and germ into the dough. Incorporate them a few into each fold.
  9. Repeat the stretch and fold this procedure every 30 minutes for 3-4 hours. In general, the wheat rises faster and only needs 3 hours. As the dough rises, be more careful not to degas the dough. The dough should become very billowy on top.
  10. When the bulk rise is complete, turn the dough out onto a floured surface.
  11. Fold the dough in half so that the outer surface is lightly floured (although you want to incorporate as little flour as possible into the dough).
  12. Fold the dough like an envelope. Fold the bottom up 1/3 over the dough. Then fold the left side in 1/3 and the right side over it. Fold the top all the way over the bottom  and pinch it slightly into the bottom.
  13. Turn the dough seam side down and let it sit under an overturned bowl for 20 minutes.
  14. After the 20 minute bench rest, do the final shaping. I usually shape my dough into a boule. To do this, follow the same pattern as the pre-shape, and then gather the corners together to tighten the surface tension and pinch them together.
  15. Put the boule seam side up in a floured branneton or a bowl lined with a floured cloth. Use both wheat and rice flour because the rice flour soaks up more water and prevents the dough from sticking.
  16. Let the dough sit for half an hour and then put it in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours.
  17. To bake the dough, 30 minutes before baking take the dough out of the refrigerator and preheat the oven with either a stone and a oven-safe pot or a combo cooker.
  18. When the oven is heated, turn the dough onto a peel and score it. Put it onot the stone or into the combo cooker and put the broth pot or lit over it.
  19. Bake for 35 minutes and then remove the lid. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until the outside is an chestnut brown and the interior temperature reads 212 degrees F.
  20. Wait at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Some more pictures:

More posts to come on all of this whole wheat stuff!


  1. I love the deep dark color of this bread. I'm not sure I've ever seen or tasted red whole wheat, sounds interesting!

    1. Red whole wheat is actually the typical whole wheat. Most whole wheat breads are made with red whole wheat. Almost always, if you buy whole wheat flour at a store (with the notable exception of Trader Joe's) it is red whole wheat. The whole wheat that you guys had at my birthday was red whole wheat, so you've definitely had some. I tend to like the flavor better than white, but it certainly can be more bitter if used in large amounts.

      Interestingly enough, I don't believe this red whole wheat is as "whole" as one would like to believe (this will be the subject of an upcoming blogpost). So, when I grind my own flour, the color will (theoretically) be even better.