The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


  • Pin It
txfarmer's picture

A while ago, I posted about how to make "shreddably soft" sourdough sandwich bread (see here). I got some questions regarding whether the same thing can be achieved with whole grain breads. Well, yes and no. The more whole grain flour there is in the dough, the lower the gluten is, so 100% whole grain breads won't be exactly AS SOFT AS the white flour one. However, with the right formula, and proper handling, 100% whole grain breads like this one CAN be very moist and soft - even shreddably so.This one is made using just sourdough starter, extra delicious when the rich flavor of ww is combined with the slight tang of sourdough.

First of all, there needs to be enough ingredients in the formula to enrich and moist the crumb. This bread is adapted from my all time favorite whole grain bread book "Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book" , in addition to oil, honey, and sourdough levain, oatmeal is soaked in boiling water the night before to add moisture to the final dough, which contributes to the soft crumb. My adaption to the formula is to chagne the dry yeast to sourdough, and increased hydration a tiny bit.

Secondly, ww doughs have lower gluten level, which means while you still have to knead it really well (to full developement), the windowpane you achieve won't be as strong as the white flour one. This also leads to a denser bread, which means for the same tin, you will need to add more dough to get the same volume. Since ww flour absorb more water, but absorb it slower, so it really helps to autolyse, and autolyse longer (40-60min) than for white doughs. It's easier to overknead a ww dough (in a mixer) too, so be very careful - for that reason, I usually finish kneading by hand.

Thirdly, it's also easy to over fermentate ww doughs. I kept the levain ratio in this dough pretty low, and made sure when it's taken out of fridge for proofing, the temperature is relatively warm(~72F). I found if it takes too long for the dough to finish proofing (once I left it by the window, where it's only 68F, it took 10hours instead of 6 hours to finish proofing), the crumb gets rough, and the taste gets unpleansantly sour.

Finally, the ww flour I used here is King Arthure WW, I have used other ww flour before, but KAF gives me the most consistent result.


Sourdough 100% Whole Wheat Oatmeal Sandwich Bread (Adapted from "Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book")

Note: 15% of the flour is in levain

Note: total hydration is 89%, higher than usual because of the oatmeal soaker

Note: total flour is 375g, fit a 8X4 loaf pan. For my Chinese small-ish pullman pan, I used 330g total flour. For KAF 13X4X4 pullman pan, I have not tried it myself, but I would suggest using about 600g of total flour. Obviously for pullman pans, you can bake with or without lid.

- levain

ww starter (100%), 16g

water, 26g

ww bread flour, 48g

1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.

- soaker

rolled oats (I used old fashioned), 53g

boiling water, 240g

salt, 8g

2. Mix and cover for 12 hours.

- final dough

ww flour, 319g (I used KAF)

water, 60g

oil, 30g

honey, 38g

all soaker

all levain

3. Mix together everything, autolyse for 40-60min.Knead until the gluten is very developed. This intensive kneading s the key to a soft crumb, and proper volume. The windowpane will be thin, but NOT as strong as one would get form a white flour dough. For more info on intensive kneading, see here.


4. Bulk rise at room temp (73F) for 2 hours, the dough would have expanded noticably, but not too much. Fold, and put in fridge overnight.

5. Divid and Rest for one hour.

6. Shape into sandwich loaves, the goal here is to get rid of all air bubles in the dough, and shape them very tightly and uniformly, this way the crumb of final breads would be even and velvety, with no unsightly holes. For different ways to shape (rolling once or twice, i.e. 3 piecing etc) see here.

7. Proof until the dough reaches one inch higher than the tin (for 8X4 inch tin), or 80% full (for pullman pan). About 6 hours at 72F.

8. Bake at 375F for 40-45min. Brush with butter when it's warm.

Nice and soft crumb from both the 8X4inch tin (rolling once) ...

Baked another one in a small pullman tin (rolling twice, 3 piecing, baked without lid)


Excellent ww flavor enhanced by sourdough, without any hint of bitterness. Stays soft and moist for days.


So, yes, 100% whole wheat breads can be soft, like THIS

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Earlybirdsf's picture

Just made a trip out to Central Milling, which is actaully called "Keith Giusto Bakery Supply". They have moved into a new location. 755 Southpoint Blvd, Petaluma, CA. 866-979-2253

They have a very large selection of organic bulk flours. Now, you can call ahead, and they will pack 5lb bags. They ask that you please call ahead though, otherwise, you will wait for some time. If you are buying in 25 or 50lb bags, no problem.

Under construction, is a Bakery School, on site, that will be open soon.

Please email me your contact, if you are intersted in bulk flour. We were told that if enough of us order, they will deliver to SF, as they deliver to the Ferry Bldg twice a week.




meetmike's picture

Thanks to all who helped out after Christmas with thoughts and experience using the Lodge Dutch oven to bake loaves per Jim Lahey's no knead method. Ended up pretty much following the instructions in "My Bread." The step-by-step photos are very clear. Instead of using a springform insert to support the proofing loaf, just covered a 8" cardboard round with tinfoil--local pro baker's suggestion. Dusted the tinfoil and cotton towel with bran. The round made it pretty easy to get the loaf to the Dutch oven, preheated to 475, and ease the loaf into the pot. Baked for 30 minutes, then removed lid and baked 15 more minutes to golden brown. Big oven spring! Dusting of medium coarse cornmeal in bottom of Dutch oven resulted in no sticking whatsoever and no burning. Made 3 loaves, one after the other, each with thick crust and chewy, open crumb. Love that cracking sound right out of the oven! I am happy baker! Mike in Maine

Sam Fromartz's picture
Sam Fromartz

I am heading to Berlin for 10 days, during which I'll spend part of the time in a bakery trying to learn about rye and whole grain breads. This is for the book I'm working on. If anyone out there has any suggestions for must-see, must-eat, must-do things in Berlin during this frigid month let me know.

Thanks, Sam

dstroy's picture

One I though I'd share with you guys: Bread maker  Vincent Talleu’s 10-minute pastry-making tutorial is quite entertaining. Loved watching all those shapes being made, and am a bit wowed by the "magic croissant cutter" tool.

ronnie g's picture
ronnie g

Well you may be interested to hear from the flooded area of Queensland.  I live in Toowoomba where this week we have had terrible scenes of raging floods and loss of life, as well as destruction and immense devastation.  One of the two major creeks that overflowed and became a raging torrent is just 50 meters from my back gate.  In my lifetime I have never seen this amount of rainfall over so wide-spread an area.  I'm not sure that anyone has ever seen it in this country.  Toowoomba is atop the Great Dividing Range.  We have been in drought for the most part of the last ten years, however during the last couple of months we have been under the influence of the La Nina, a weather pattern which is a reversal of what we have been experiencing.  It is also a very strong La Nina and so we are having tremendous amounts of rain.  

On Monday at about 1pm an incredible cell storm broke over Toowoomba and delivered up to 150mm of rain in the space of a couple of hours.  On already rain soaked land the water ran straight off and into the creeks which are normally sedate and picturesque.  They suddenly became raging and deadly torrents, picking up everything it their paths and causing destruction and flooding without warning.  People were trapped in their cars, trapped in our main shopping centre, trapped at work.  Cars were picked up like toys and whisked down the stream and smashed into bridges, piling up on top of each other.  Within minutes, swift water rescue teams had their hands full as unsuspecting shoppers and workers were caught amidst the wild and deadly waters. 

The waters quickly raged through our city streets and into businesses which were inundated with up to two meters of water.  Everything was destroyed.  Many bridges, shops, roads, cars, lives.

Then the water began it's hurried and dangerous decent down the range on unsuspecting small townships 600 meters below.  I heard one warning on the TV for the community of Grantham (the hardest hit with lives lost and many more still missing) to evacuate as a 7 meter wall of water was heading their way.  The estimated time they had to escape was in minutes.  Another small hamlet called Murphy's Creek was also hard hit with major destruction and loss of life.  In both these communities houses were shifted from their stumps and smashed by walls of water as no-one has ever seen.  People were washed from their homes, the water moved with such power and speed.  I heard that night that twenty-three helicopter rescues took place that afternoon, rescuing people from rooftops before bad weather prevented any more such rescues.  It was heartbreaking to hear of all this unfolding in the valley below us after such devastation in our own town only hours before.

It's only Wednesday today.  So much has happened.  Our major roads have been cut.  Our supermarkets were soon out of fresh fruit and vegetables, milk and bread.  We take all this for granted.  And yet the wall of water moved on, slowing, widening, but not stopping.  It has caused major flooding and havoc, inundating whole cities and causing mass evacuations, including our capital city of Brisbane.  They are at present waiting for a flood peak which will hit at 4 AM in the morning.  My son lives and works in the area which is presently flooding, helping his workplace shift valuables and perishables to higher ground.  His friend lives in a six story apartment, where, because the power has been cut the lifts were out of action.  They were coming down the stairwell when they heard faint cries for help.  It was an old lady who had fallen, broken her arm and split her head while trying to negotiate the stairs on her own.  These two young men called for assistance and didn't leave her till an ambulance arrived.  I am sure there are many more stories like this to be told.  

I have only left my house once since this disaster as the authorities are asking people not to go out unless absolutely necessary.  I suppose I need to talk about what is happening here even though I haven't been hurt in any way or suffered any loss.  My whole community has been hurt, that's what I'm feeling and that's why I need to talk.  Please pray for all those who have been hurt and have suffered loss.  Thanks

Lisakemr's picture

Baking Pizza in a Round Boy Oven

I asked Karl to fire up a Round Boy Oven so we can show you some pictures of the oven being used. I also asked him for some tips or tricks he could offer on using the oven. Karl gave me three tips as he told me "There is nothing to making pizza in the oven. It is simple.".
Tip # 1 get the oven roof to white hot.                                 
Tip # 2 Keep the fire to one side so you can turn the pizza to cook evenly.
Tip # 3 Lift the pizza with the peel as if to check the underneath to see if it is done, if the pizza bends in the center it needs more time. When it is done it will be crisp and it will not bend in the center.

Well it is easy! Here are the pictures of the oven baking pizza.





 The pizza was delicious!

MickiColl's picture

just recently someone wrote in with a recipe that was part sourdough .. part yeast. they said they didn't have enough starter for the whole recipe. it was labeled "part sourdough" or "not quite sourdough". I thought I had printed it out but can't find it. can you please re post it or send it to me direct e mail ? thanks.

davidg618's picture

I've been trying to teach my hands to shape loaves. It's going slowly. There remains a lot more learning.

These two loaves came from the same dough, and were proofed and baked side-by-side. Nonetheless, they've taken on different profiles. The only difference between the two is how taut I drew the loave's surface tension when I shaped them. The good news: I knew when I'd shaped them both that one was tauter then the other. I considered removing the slack one,  on the right, from it's brotform, and tightening its surface. I chose not to.

I read somewhere, students of the baker's school in Paris are required to come early, each day, and shape fifty baguettes before attending classes. Students attend the school for three years: six days each week. That's roughly 50,000 baguettes. I'm beginning to appreciated why.

And when my shaping skills become barely adequate, there is still scoring to learn.

David G


Subscribe to RSS - blogs