The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

100% whole grain

dabrownman's picture

After 4 Fresh Loafians recent trip to KA flour where they took the rye class from master baker Jeffrey Hamelman and the recent spate of posts on altus, my apprentice couldn’t help but devise a baking test to see if we could tell the difference, taste wise, when altus was added to a high percent rye and 100% whole grain bread.

Perfect bread holder for home made Pate Maison.


Our last bake was a test on ‘old dough’ that proved old dough makes a difference in taste that is noticeable and really quite profound.  Normally we would put altus in high percent rye bread, if we have it, but have never baked the same recipe at the same time under the exact same conditions with and without altus to determine first hand if there really was a noticeable taste difference.


We would have made a 100% whole rye bread for this test but didn’t have enough rye berries to grind up.  We decided to use whole spelt berries for 50% of the mix and bake it like it was pumpernickel, that had real pumperdime berries cut in half - long, low and slow, to bring out the dark color.  The instant coffee, cocoa, molasses, barley malt, honey and red malt also helped to turn this loaf dark.


The altus we used came from this bread - Multigrain SD/YW Brown Bread with Aromatic Seeds and Multi-Grain Scald which was also a multi-grain and YW/SD combo levain bread sort of similar to this one.

Today's lunch sandwich featuring the bread we used for the altus in todays bake that is still in the oven going on 7 hours.

You want to start the levain and scald the day before you bake.  We had a mainly rye and spelt 100% whole grain starter, that had been developed to its peak for the last bake.  It had been in the fridge for a coupe of days putting on some more sour.  It was used to make the combo levain with 30 g  of YW - a tiny amount in the scheme of things but YW really makes a huge difference to open the crumb in heavy whole grain breads.


All of the cracked and meal varieties of rye and spelt, half the total flour amounts used for the levain, along with some whole rye and spelt flour was used in the 1 build.  The rye and spelt berries were soaked overnight for 12 hours and then simmered for 10 minutes and allowed to cool.  The excess soaker / scald water was used to soften the altus so none of the flavor was lost.


It took about 12 hours for the levain to double on the counter.   While that was happening, we autolysed the dough flour, salt, all the add-ns (less the altus and the scalded berries) using excess soaker water for the liquid for 4 hours.   We like longer autolyse times for whole grain breads.  We also see no difference if the salt is included to the autolyse or not… so we always put it in.


Once the autolyse and the levain came together we mixed the heavy 76 % hydration mass with a big metal spoon to try and get things acquainted before turning it out on the counter and doing 10 minutes of French slap and folds when the dough really came together nicely from a structure point of view but still very sticky.

The dough was rested for 15 minutes before the first of (2) S&F’s were completed on 15 minute intervals.  The scald was incorporated in the first one and the seeds in the 2nd one.  Then the dough as divided in two with one dough 72 g more than the other since the smaller dough would have 72 g of soaked altus added to it. 

Once the scald was added the dough felt wetter than a 76% hydration dough because of the excess scald water carried along with it – even after draining and running a paper towel through the berries.

15 minutes later, the altus went into half and a minute of slap and folds was used to distribute it properly.   A few slap and folds were also performed with the other half to get it back into better shape gluten wise.

 We then panned each into half of a PAM sprayed large metal loaf pan and covered the non altus side with the lighter colored oat bran and the altus side with the darker wheat bran to mimic their actual color since the altus had made that side darker.

We then covered in oiled plastic wrap and allowed it to proof on the counter for 30 minutes before refrigerating it for a 12 hour retard at 38 F.  After removing the loaf from the fridge the next morning, we allowed it to warm up and proof on the counter for 6 ½ hours at 68 F until it nearly doubled to the rim of the pan.

We covered the top with a PAM sprayed double layer of heavy aluminum foil and placed it on the 375 F mini oven’s broiler pan that was half full of water along with (2) of Sylvia’s steaming cups that were heated to the boiling in the microwave.   Even though the loaf tin was covered we still wanted as much steam as we could generate in the mini.

After 30 minutes we turned the mini oven down to 350 F for 30 minutes.  We continued the baking in a falling oven with steam according to the baking schedule:  Many will notice that this is similar to the baking schedule for Black Pumpernickel that Hamelman uses.  This one just starts a little higher


Theise were 3"pieces of pumpernickel (altus left) that we got 12 slices out of the altus side than the 11 slices we got out of the non altus side.  For lunch the altus wa more moist and produced few crumbs when slicing and the non altus side was more dry and produced more crumbs when slicing.  It will be altus pumpernickel from now on.

375 F - 30 minutes

350 F - 30 minutes

325 F - 30 minutes

300 F - 1 hour

275 F - 2 hours

250 F - 2 hours

225 F - 1 ½ hours

200 F - 1 ½ hours

Turn oven off and leave the bread in the oven until morning or 8 hours.  Uncover and de-pan the bread.  Wrap the cooled bread in cotton cloth or linen for a minimum of 24 hours - 36 hours would be better.

A great lunch sandwich of Pesto Infused Roasted Pork Loin with; pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and homemade Dijon mustard.  The fruits and veggies, include Poblano peppers cantaloupe, carrots, a homemade kosher dill pickle and a Minneola from the back yard.  A piece of this bread with a schmear of grilled salmon and cream cheese was included because it was go fantastic at breakfast.

Beautiful sunrise this morning!

Please note that the altus actually used for half of this loaf was 72 wet grams not the 144 listed in the formula below.  The 90 g dry and 144 g wet altus would be used in a full, non test loaf of this bread.

Crumb shots will be 24 hours from now.

The great aroma of this bread didn't start permeating the house until the temperature had been reduced to 250 F.  There were some unusual things and some expected from the crust points out.  First the loaf shrank a little bit while baking instead of springing. I have never used a  long low slow baking schedule for this kind of bread before and have never had one shrink - maybe this is normal?

The altus side came out of the pan much wetter than the non altus side and it was more caramelized.  We have never had a bread come out of the pan this wet before but this too may be normal?  When the aluminum foil lid came off, the aroma was incredibly pungent and pervasive.  It sure smells like a very nice black pumpernickel and I can't wait to slice into it.  But we will wait, even though my apprentice doesn't want to her being German and this loaf dear to her heart.  The loaf is now resting in its cotton cocoon for 24 hours - making it 32 hours after it finished baking before we will slice it. 

After baking and slicing the color difference went away,  the non altus inside was more open with larger holes.  the altus side was open too but the holes more even throughout.  The crumb was glossy and moist.  The YW really helped to open the crumb and make it lighter than just about any other bread of this type that I have made, seen or eaten.  Great taste - less weight :-)

The long low and slow bake at the end produced a finished temperature of exactly 205 F . Amazing!  This loaf was perfectly baked and the taste was just the best we have ever experienced.  The difference between the altus and no altus was slight though not nearly as great as we would have expected.  The altus side had a deeper and more complex flavor though and next time we have this bread for the altus. What a great loaf of pumpernickel!


100% Whole Grain Rye and Spelt  Sourdough - The Altus Test









Build 1



SD Rye & Spelt Starter




Whole Rye, Meal & Cracked




Yeast Water




Whole Spelt, Meal & Cracked








Total Starter
















Levain % of Total








Dough Flour




Dark Rye




Whole Spelt




Dough Flour
















Dough Hydration








Total Flour








T. Dough Hydration




Whole Grain %








Hydration w/ Adds




Total Weight








Total Weight does not include added water from the scald and altus





Add - Ins




Barley Malt












Red Rye Malt




Rye and Spelt Altus




Coffee Cocoa




Spice Seeds




VW Gluten












Altus weighed 144 g after adding soaker water to soften

Spice Seeds - corriander, black and brown caraway, anise & fennel

















Total Scald








Scald weighed 188 g when incorporated











PiPs's picture

The idea of honest bread and its making found its way into my thinking over the weekend. I find myself slipping more and more into this way of baking. Using less but wanting more from it. I didn’t bake any differently to past weekends yet I felt more connected and relaxed throughout the process. The slightly cooler temperatures certainly helped both my peace of mind and the resulting bread. The kitchen felt less frantic.

 I haven’t been pushing the envelope. Just practising consistency while noticing and adapting to the subtle differences the change of seasons is bringing. Perhaps this might be seen as boring or lazy … nevertheless I enjoyed it thoroughly and it keeps us well fed.

I baked two small batches of 100 per cent whole-wheat desem bread and country breads on the weekend. This will feed the family during the week and left us with a loaf to take away on a picnic to a country market in the northern New South Wales town of Bangalow. We had the best handmade organic doughnuts while wandering through the markets. One of the country breads was given to Nat’s parents on our trip home to help ease their struggling brought on by home renovations.

I have been trying a new method of milling where the flour is constantly stirred and moved around in the bowl as it falls from the mill. I want to disperse the heat as quickly as possible and noticed a definite improvement in the time it took for the flour to cool. Whether this translates into the final bread I really have no idea. Any ideas? I sifted the wheat flour for the country bread as normal and retained the bran for coating the desem loaves.

Mixing the desem starter

Autolyse and desem starter

Squeezing in desem starter



100% Whole-wheat Desem





Total dough weight



Total flour



Total water



Total salt



Prefermented flour






Desem starter build – 10 hrs 18-20°C






Freshly milled organic wheat flour









Final dough



Desem starter



Freshly milled organic wheat flour











  1. Mix desem starter and leave to ferment for 10-12 hours at 18-20°C
  2. Mill flour and allow to cool to room temperature before mixing with water (hold back 50 grams of water) and autolyse for a minimum of one hour.
  3. Add levain to autolyse then knead (French fold) 5 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and remaining 50 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 10 mins.
  4. Bulk ferment two and a half hours with three stretch-and-fold 30 mins apart.
  5. Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape.
  6. Final proof was for 1.5 hours at 24°C
  7. Bake in a preheated dutch oven at 250°C for 10 mins then reduce temperature to 200°C and bake a further 10 mins. Remove bread from the dutch oven and continue to bake on a stone for a further 20mins to ensure even browning.



I am continuing to expand the desem starter with one build straight from the fridge and as the overnight temperature continues to cool the desem starter is achieving a more controlled fermentation and sweeter aroma by the following morning. I have been looking forward to this kind of weather all summer and it is so nice to not have sweating dough racing away from me into a sticky mess. I even had to increase proofing times by an extra half-an-hour for this bake.

For an aesthetic change to previous desem loaves I baked these without slashing in a dutch oven after coating them in bran sifted from the country breads. I was really surprised with the increased oven spring … quite possibly the best I have had with this form of bread.

Country bread baking

The most telling tale that the cooling temperatures are affecting the bread came with the cutting and tasting. Nat took a bite and then looked at me and asked quite seriously, ‘Have you added anything else to this … it tastes sweet?’ Not only does it taste sweet, but you can smell the sweetness in the kitchen while slicing through a loaf. The crust is delicate with the bran coating adding a crunchy contrast to the soft crumb within.

So far we have eaten it with Nat’s special ‘sick soup’, with honey and ricotta, toasted with peanut butter, with plum jam, with apricot jam … and the list goes on and on.

Happy baking all ...

Mebake's picture

I purchased some Pakistani Wheat (for Atta) , and i wanted to see how it fairs in Peter Reinhart's Wholegrain Recipes. I'am not sure of the protein content of This wheat, but i read that Atta flour is between 11.5% to 13% Protein. I milled the berries, and found them to be medium hard. The resultant flour made a coherent smooth dough, and delayed fermentation helped strengthen the dough even more.

Adding Milk, Butter and Honey, helped soften the dough further, and the result was a pliable soft dough that passed windowpane test.

PR's Recipe for this sandwich bread is a real winner, as this 100% wholewheat is transformed into a very fluffy and light loaf which was a true treat, especially when toasted!

I shaped my dough into a tight sandwich load in the manner that Txfarmer does hers as i wanted that shredable texture. My shaping needs improvement.

The flavor was Superb!


Mebake's picture

This is my recipe of a 50% sourdough spelt.

  Total Dough      
A/P flour 50% 539 grams    
spelt Flour 50% 539 grams    
Water 65% 701 grams    
Salt 2% 22 grams    
Total 167% 1,800      
  Levain Build      
        Prefermented Flour
A/P flour 100% 204 grams 35%  
Water 60% 122 grams    
Sourdough 25% 51 grams    
Total 185% 377      
  Final Dough      
A/P flour 310 grams      
spelt  Flour 539 grams      
Water 553 grams      
Salt 22 grams      
All levain 377 grams      
Total 1,800 grams      



In the evening, take you starter out of fridge, refresh it , and leave it on counter to double. Refresh it again before you go to sleep in such a way that it would double overnight.


In the morning, refresh the starter in propotions that would allow the starter to ripen in maximum of 4-5 hours. I chose to bake during week day, therefore i brought the starter with me to work to build my final levain. I was afraid of over ripening during my duty, so i reduced the starter in the levain from 25% (51g) to 25 grams. it took the levain 11 hours to ripen @60 hydration at 78F !

At Home, i cut the levain and dissolved it in the recipe water (tepid water), and then added the remaining ingredients except the salt. I Autolyzed the dough for 1/2 hour, and then spread the dough, sprinkled all salt on top, kneaded the dough until a smooth ball is formed. I was wary of my mixing , so as to not to over develop the spelt.

I immediately transfered the dough in its iled bowl to the refrigerator for an 18 hour retardation.


In the morning, I removed the dough( which has increased 50% in volume) to a bench and stretched and folded it letter wise. The dough was returned to the bowl, and i went to work.

On the evening, and 18 hours later, i removed the dough (which increased 50% in volume) to a bench divided it into two (1000g, and 800g).An hour later, i preshaped the still cold dough into a boule and a batard. An hour later, i shaped the doughs, and inverted them into floured bannetons.

I left the doughs to ferment for 3.5 hours. I preheated the oven with a stone and a pan filled with lava rocks to 470F for 30 minutes, and then inverted the doughs onto a peal and transfered the doughs to be baked for 15 minutes with steam, and 20 minutes without.

The flavor was mildly tangy, and spelt flavor was quite discernable. I liked it, though i would prefer a more hydrated dough (70%).



jtziolkowski's picture

Unpredictable Oven Spring Issues with Whole Grain Breads

October 28, 2010 - 1:04am -- jtziolkowski

I am a home baker regular baking approximately 6+ loaves of whole grain breads per week.  I use Peter Reinhart's delayed fermentation method  exclusively and I am having issues with my oven spring...or lack there of.  It's totally unpredictable...I baked three anadama loaves last night and each of the two rises went as planned, yet when I put them into the oven...nothing.  The night before, however, I baked two loaves, both of which sprung nicely in the oven. In short, my oven spring has been consistently inconsistent and I do not know why. 

Przytulanka's picture

I have never been a big fan of pears. I eat only a few per year. But when I saw those I decided to buy a few. They were delicious. Their beauty inspired me to bake this bread.

453 g water

283g whole rye flour-stone ground 453 whole wheat flour

 Mix the flours and water until the dough comes together and you have a sticky mass and put the container in the refrigerator for 12 hours  Starter: 125 g water 125 g whole rye flour 25 g whole rye starter
Final dough: all soaker from refrigerator 255 g starter Mix the ingredients (it's not easy) and let rest 30 minutes.
Add salt work it through the dough. Let rest 30 minutes. Fold the dough and let rest 30 minutes. Repeat the procedure once more.
Allow the dough to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature.

Flatten the dough into a disc, put 100 g of pistachio nuts (toasted, salted) and pear cut in to pieces. Fold in each side, and then the bottom. . Turn the dough over and shape your pear. Try to shape thick neck to prevent from burning during baking. Use XL raisin or dried plum to make stem end of the pear. Place the pear on peel with parchment . Cover with plastic to avoid drying the dough. After 3-hour proofing preheat the oven to 500F with a.baking stone. Prepare 1 cup of  hot water for steaming.Score the loaf.
15 minutes-480 F
15 minutes -450F
Remove  the parchment, cover the bread with foil (it's brown enough) and bake 10 minutes in 400F.

 Adapted from the recipe from: Discovering Sourdough and inspired by


wassisname's picture


Actually, it's 2 seeds and a nut, but the name is unwieldy enough as it is. 

Digging through my freezer again... I found my mix of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and crushed walnuts.  I couldn't resist throwing some in the bread, maybe it's the first hint of autumn in the air.

Otherwise, it's a simple overnight soaker/starter sourdough using a 50/50 mix of  WW bread flour and WW Turkey Red.  I let the starter portion of the pre-dough get really ripe, so the first taste had a pronounced tang, but by the next day the seeds/nuts asserted themselves and the sour tang mellowed.  The final balance of flavors was really nice.



And... the quest for fluffiness...

I tried out a multigrain sandwich bread recipe and decided to see just how fluffy a crumb I could get.  Turns out, pretty fluffy. 

It's a straight dough, mostly WW with some rolled oats.  A little honey, but no milk.  I used a tip I read in Laurel's Bread Book and added butter by smearing it on the board as I kneaded.  I think that really made a difference.  I wound up with a little too much dough for one loaf, so I split it in two.  That probably helped lighten the loaf, too.

The result: so fluffy it was hard to slice.  It puts squishy supermarket bread to shame!  OK, so it's not the most versatile bread (I don't think it would even hold a sandwich together) but it was fun to make.  And a breakfast treat, to boot:  a couple slices in a bowl, add raisins, cinnamon, vanilla extract, agave nectar, then pour milk over the whole thing.  Mmmmmm... forget the sandwiches!


Przytulanka's picture


I am finally proud of my bread...It looks gorgeous. My special thanks for the web

 tutoring go to Australian Baker WARWICK QUINTON.






600 h whole-wheat flour

260 g whole-rye flour

100 g buckwheat flakes

850 ml cold water

Mix and flours and water and place in  a box with lid and leave them in the fridge overnight. This method softens the whole grain flours.




10 g whole-wheat starter (100% hydration -from the fridge)

100 g  whole-wheat flour

60 g water

Let to ferment for12-14 hours.


Remove the box from the fridge and add:

240g altus ( 60 % rye, 40% wheat)

160 g stiff sordough

Mix it through with your hand for a few minutes.

Allow to rest for 30 minutes.


Add the salt (24 g ) and work it through the dough. Let to rest for 30 minutes.

Give it turn and allow to stand for 30 minutes.

Continue the process allowing about half an hour between turns until  your  achive silk consistency.


Let to ferment for 4-6 hours 

Shape your bread into cylinder, using the flats of your hands.  Brush with water, and dust with buckwheat flakes. Put into the  proofing basket.

Proof the bread for 3 hours . Slash diagonally 4 times.

Set your oven to 500F and bake:


  •  15 minutes with steam in 480F.
  •  20 minutes in 450F
  • 15 minutes in 400F.


Recipe adapted from:


wassisname's picture


It was time to clear out some of the flotsam and jetsam of flour remnants.  It was  also time to unwind after several weeks of "disciplined" baking. 

So, into the dough went WW bread flour, WW turkey red flour, whole white wheat flour, pumpernickel  rye, medium rye (I think), molasses and caraway seeds.  And to top it off I dug out the ancient bottle of Jaegermeister that has been lurking in the dark depths of my freezer for more years than I can remember and threw in a shot of that as well.  I seem to have reached a point in my life where actually drinking the stuff has really lost its appeal.  But, the first time I combined German breadspice and molasses in my rye bread I noticed that the sweet, herbal flavor was very similar to the black stuff in the green bottle... and also Ricola cough drops now that I think about it.  So it was only a matter of time before it ended up in the bread.  The Jaegermeister, not the cough drops.

So I doubled the recipe, threw it all together and made a big, ol' loaf of this:


 And it actually turned out really tasty.

To follow-up on a previous post:  Sometimes it really is enough just to show up.

These two loaves went to the fair.  Embarassingly underproofed and really dense.  But they won their classes.  I'm pretty sure they were the only breads in their classes!!  Because I couldn't find a second place entry in either one.  There is no shame in cherry-picking!!

And more bagels!  This time with almost all KA whole white wheat flour to lighten things up a bit.  I was also able to locate the one jar of barley malt syrup in the area and make it mine.  Then underestimated the oven-spring and all the holes closed up!  But oh, what a difference in flavor



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