When I was complaining the other day that I couldn't catch up with Andy, I didn't mean that I would never be a professional baker and turn out staggering numbers of authentic, healthy, artisan loaves, because of course I will never do those things. I meant that I can't even catch up with trying to bake some of his formulas. And he just keeps making the situation worse. Back in November he posted wholemeal pain au levain. I have been meaning to make it, but got distracted with mixed levains and other things and didn't get to it. After my January croissant waistline debacle I decided that I have got to start baking more lean wholegrain breads, so that brought me back to Andy's formula. Frankly I never expected such loft and lightness out of a 60% wholegrain bread. But then I've never made a bread out of starter and soaker before which is what this is.
True I was unable to follow the formula 100%. I was a bit short of whole wheat flour so substituted in some whole rye to the soaker, and I didn't do the overnight retard immediately after the mix because it didn't fit into my schedule. Short of those (hopefully not critical) deviations, I followed directions, and I'm glad I did. This has a delicious crunchy, nutty flavor, and the crumb isn't the least bit gummy (ok that's how I tend to think of high percentage whole grain breads - it's my problem.)
Some baking notes:
1. Andy's instructions call for mixing the starter, soaker, and additional flour. Then retarding overnight. Then Bulk Ferment for 3 hours which of course includes some warm up time. I did not do the retard and was concerned at 1.5 hours into the bulk ferment that the dough would overferment. I decided to end after 2 hours, which seemed to work out.
2. There was no call for additional water to be added to the final dough. However, I was unable to mix the raw flour into the soaker, starter combo without a little bit of water. Thus my hydration is 73% rather than Andy's 70%. For a 73% hydration dough, it wasn't even slightly wet which I assume is attributable to the high percentage of whole grains.
3. When I realized that I was short of whole wheat flour, I was scratching my head about what to add to the overnight soaker. My husband strolled into the kitchen just as I reached this conundrum and suggested whole rye. Despite my surprise (he's not a baker and doesn't like rye) I had to agree with his suggestion, as I thought the key point was having something that could stand up to an overnight soak without turning into gum. Should I have done something else like whole spelt?
4. I used King Arthur All Purpose to substitute for Carr's Special CC Flour and King Arthur Whole Wheat to substitute for Allinson's Strong Wholemeal.
Formula and Instructions as Modified
Whole Wheat Pain Au Levain
following Andy's Wholemeal PAL formula
Prepare Starter day before - 2 feedings
Prepare soaker at 9:30 night before
I added some whole rye to soaker since
I ran out of whole wheat
dissolve salt in water, add ww flour, mix with paddle for 3 minutes
Note: the 17g additional water was needed to incorporate the raw flour
Mix all ingredients - first incorporate the new flour and water
Then mix for 7 minutes in Kitchenaid at low speed
with a couple pauses to scrape down
Note that dough is very strong at this point
Bulk ferment on counter for 1.5 hours
Stretch and Fold on counter very gently
Bulk ferment for 30 more minutes
Note that dough seems very fermented at this point and
starting to slacken
Cut in two and preshape
Rest 20 minutes
Shape into batards and place in couche seam side up
Proof for 2 hours until dough starts to soften
Flip onto peel dusted with coarse rye and slash
Bake for 20 minutes in 450F oven with steam
22 minutes without