The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Beginner reporting in. I've been baking for a month now and I work with whole grains. Ideally, I'd like to see a sourdough whole wheat bread with a killer rise -- this (what you see above) is as close as I've gotten.

I feel like I'm getting a sense for techniques which work and those that don't. What is clear to me is that bread handling and timing are crucial, and that (for example) what kind of flour or baking device one uses is less important. For one bread I'll do most of the work in two stainless steel bowls. A banneton and dutch oven are not essential but do appear to improve the appearance of the bread.

Ingredients: weight (baker's %)

  • Wholemeal (white whole wheat) flour: 500g (100%)
  • Water: 410g (80%)
  • Starter (100% hydration): 75g (15%)
  • Salt: 12g (2%)


  1. 4 hour autolyse (salt, water, flour)
  2. Bulk ferment 7-8 hours, with occasional, gentle stretches and folds every 1-2 hours
  3. Proof in fridge in rice-floured banneton, wrapped in plastic bag
  4. Slashed and baked at 450F in dutch oven for 20 minutes with lid on, then 45 minutes with lid off


  • Shaping the dough extra tightly helped the dough maintain its shape in the banneton. I think this contributed to the good overall shape of the baked bread
  • Oven and dutch oven were both preheated, though it is not clear whether this is necessary in general
  • Bread was "flipped" from banneton into dutch oven, with success
  • The fact that the dough was cold may have made it easier to make clean slashes
  • I realize it is controversial to autolyse with salt. I would like to repeat this recipe with and without salt in the autolyse and compare

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