The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

100 % whole wheat

proth5's picture

To quote my university hymn “Time like an ever rolling stream” (well, and it originally went on to say “bears all her sons away” which made the whole thing problematic once those of us with the double X were finally allowed to roam the Dear Old Place’s hallowed halls – but that is another story…) and it has been quite a while since I posted part one of this saga. (The rocks and bumps over which the stream has rolled is yet another story – suffice it to say, a long one.)

Whole wheat bread in a bread machine seems to be a popular topic and I have been working on a formula, so it seems like a good time do to a full write-up.

Consulting the leaflet that came with the bread machine, it seemed that every whole wheat variation came with the ingredient of “vital wheat gluten.” Of course, upon reading that I could hear The Voice in My Head scornfully saying, “Well, Pat, if you want to use vital wheat gluten…”

To which I could only hang my head and reply, “No, I don’t, Sensei. I’ll aspire to better.”

(Oh, no – now I’ve gone and done it.  I’ve said negative things about the ingredient vital wheat gluten. Well, let me assure my small reading public that “The Voice in My Head” comes from actual conversations with a very real, and, as I like to put it “well qualified” baker. I will not intone “You do what you want” as I have no power to compel or prevent anyone from doing anything.  But as for me, I will deal with qualities of the grain as I find it and use technique to overcome any hardships.)

Of course, the tools were at hand.  A good intensive mix would make a fluffy whole wheat loaf, but no setting on the machine would mix long enough to deliver this – and I have been coming to the point where I love the “set it and forget it” aspect of the bread machine (at least for the sandwich bread to feed “the house” – I’m still hand crafting a lot of other stuff to satisfy my public…)

The other obvious tool in my arsenal was – you guessed it – a pre ferment. But not just any pre ferment, a firm levain.

“Why?” you ask.  Well, a firm pre ferment will tend to add strength (due to the acids that develop in a pre ferment and the lesser amount of protease action because the pre ferment is relatively dry) and a sourdough based pre ferment will add more acids because of the nature of the leavening.

As we wind on in this saga of me inexplicably becoming intrigued with this appliance, I make an observation: discussions on these pages pushed me to try the same formula with a firm commercially yeasted pre ferment.  Although the bread was certainly edible, it did not have the same texture nor did it rise as high as the sourdough version. If I were baking by hand, I would have to wonder if I had unconsciously done something differently – but with the machine, the cycle marches on.  So even though I “kinda” knew that sourdough would result in a stronger dough, I’m a lot more convinced of it now.

Other than that, the only thing I needed to do was up the hydration a bit and jigger the sweeteners and butter.  No long, drawn out story.

I did, however, avail myself of the “Sourdough starter” cycle on my machine (a Zojirushi Virtuoso) to mix the pre ferment.  This could just as easily have been done by hand in a bowl, but for those who don’t want that inconvenience; it turns out to be a good option.  I didn’t want the fast rise that would be engendered by the “rise” cycle – nor did I want to stay up way past my bedtime to wait for the thing.  So, I cancelled the cycle after the mix and then (had it fit into my proofer – or if my night time kitchen temperatures were warm enough) I could just cover the pan and let it proof overnight.

So, without further ado, here we go with a formula and some pictures.

Since this is a bread machine post, I will present the formula two ways, in the Bread Baker’s Guild of America format and in “recipe list” format.  For those of you just beginning to practice your baker’s math this is a good opportunity to see how the “list” format easily translates into what can be a perplexing little grid.

Bread Machine 100% Whole wheat

Firm Levain Pre Ferment (40% of the total flour pre fermented)

Whole Wheat Flour                                         228 g

Water                                                                   173 g

Seed (taken from storage starter)             5g

Mix the above ingredient (by hand or using a bread machine mix only cycle). Cover and allow to rise overnight until mature (doubled) – 8-12 hours at 76F.

The next day (or when the Pre Ferment is mature) Load the pan of the bread machine in this order:

Water (40F)                                        277 g

Agave Nectar                                     40 g

Molasses                                             24 g

Firm Levain                                         all of it, broken up into roughly 2 T chunks distributed over the bottom of the pan

Dry Milk                                               9 g

Salt                                                         11 g

Butter (room temperature)        46 g

Whole Wheat flour                         342 g

Instant Yeast

 (in small well on top of flour)     3 g

Use “Whole Wheat” cycle on the bread machine and bake per instructions.

Is it a work of food art? Well, no.  But as I looked at it I thought “This is a nice, solid, bread.  Nothing wrong with it.” Not too shabby. No vital wheat gluten. Tastes good, too…

mrgnlit's picture

adjust peter reinhearts pumpernickel bagels recipe for mini bagels

February 24, 2013 - 10:31am -- mrgnlit

So I am in a quest to make bite sized bagels but I have some questions about the baking time The original recipe makes 6-7 bagels at 4.5 oz each and bakes at 450 oven (lowered from 500 just before baking) for 25-30 minutes. How small can I get away with here? I was thinking I. The ballpark of 16-20? Maybe more?

Also if I want to do this how much should I adjust the baking time/temperature 

How much will this impact the moisture of the end product also? I know making things smaller can dry them out but I'm hoping with the adjustments they will not be bricks.

varda's picture

Frequently when I ask my friends if they would like some bread, they say something like, oh I can't eat that - I'm off bread.   This makes me sad, so I decided to change my tack.   So lately I've been asking would you like some 100% whole wheat sandwich bread, and the responses have been much more positive.   Only one problem - I really don't know how to bake with 100% whole wheat.   So I finally took Janetcook's advice and got Whole Grain Breads by Peter Reinhart.  

Here is a shot at his master formula - enriched whole wheat loaf.    This tastes pretty darn good for 100% whole wheat.   Most of the flour is either in an overnight soaker or an overnight biga, so it comes out pretty soft.    The enrichment produces a smooth soft crumb.   And much more edible than my attempts at unenriched 100% whole wheats thus far.  

I used the approach of really knocking the dough around in the mixer to get adequate dough development.   Since I have a Bosch Compact and Franko warned me that despite the advertised 5 lb capacity, one is better off mixing under 1Kg or less than half that, I mixed up the 1.4Kg dough by hand, blended the ingredients for a few minutes in the compact, then cut the dough in half and did development half at a time for around 15 minutes each on speed 2.   I was able to get a semi-fragile window pane - in other words I could get it quite thin, but it was a hair away from breaking.   Based on the results I think I should probably have gone a bit longer.   

The resulting bread is great for the calorie conscious consumer (say that 5 times) as it can be cut quite thin.

I suspect a lot of people on TFL make this loaf, so would be interested in any insights, observations, and so forth. 

The best thing about it though was I pulled off one of the three pieces and handed it to a friend who was happy to have it.   We'll see how she feels after she and her family get to it.  



Justkneadit's picture

So amidst my Baguette a l'Ancienne and Sourdough Boule baking frenzy I began feeling a little wheaty. I decided to bake again, 3rd time, Peter Reinhart's Whole Wheat recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

First two attempts so good. Basically negative rise accompanied by an Adamantium-like density. So being a little discourage I did what anyone would do, I tried again. Forgive me for switching back and forth between ounces and gram, but I have no second decimal for ounces.

Results weren't half bad...

Le Pain

And ze crumb...


The Way I Baked:

  • Soaker
    • 120g Bob Red Mills 10 Grain Cereal (No 10 Grain flour)
    • 6 oz. Water (Room Temp)
    • Set for 23 hr
  • Poolish
    • 191g Gold Medal Whole Wheat
    • 6oz Water (Room Temp)
    • 1/2 t Instant Yeast
    • Sat out for 41/2, then in the fridge for 21hr 40min. Sat out for hour to take off chill.
  • Dough
    • 9oz Gold Medal Whole Wheat
    • .33oz Sea Salt
    • 1t Instant yeast
    • 1,5oz Honey
    • .5oz Vegetable Oil
    • 1 Large Egg
    • Poolish & Soaker


Dough temp was at 78.1F after kneading. Bulk fermented for 75 mins, shaped into sandwich loaf via Khalid's method, then final proof for 45 min. Preheated to 400F, then placed loaf in (9x5 loaf pan) oven and reduced to 350F for 30min, rotated 180 degrees, bake for another 15min. Cooled for approx. 2 hrs. Turned out great in my opinion. No grassy after taste and soft inside.

Anybody want to critique feel free please!

manicbovine's picture

WW Gas Oven Help

September 16, 2012 - 9:48am -- manicbovine

I've made a lovely WW dough from some locally grown wheat. It's very cold where I'm at, so this has been a muti-day project. (The dough is perfect as a result!).

Here is my question: I cooked one loaf (just a simple Boule) in a gas oven at 550 degrees; it ended up sticking to the pan and I lost the bottom crust. It stuck, which is totally new to me. The  dough is at 79% hyrdation (common for whole wheat, if you let the dough rest for long enough). Was it the pan, the gas, or what? I will slather the next loaf with a bit of oil.


ringopaul's picture

whole wheat starter first attempt

September 2, 2012 - 3:51pm -- ringopaul

Sorry if this has been discussed in a previous topic I have searched but wasn't able to find a definite formula for a whole wheat starter. I decided to try my hand at WW starter and I found a ratio of 1/3c flour to 1/4 water for a rye starter but this ratio gave me a dry ball of paste. I ended up with a 50/50 ratio (5.5oz KAWW/5.5oz of bottled water) which gave me the consistancy of a thick oatmeal. I'm hoping that this will result in a good healthy start to a hearty starter.

I guess my question is how many people have tried this and does my ratio seem ok?

Paul Salazar's picture

Found Long lost recipe for simple Whole Wheat bread

June 27, 2012 - 12:38pm -- Paul Salazar

About a month ago I posted a request for a recipe that came with the purchase of my Marathon Mini-mill and Blakeslee Mixer back in 1980.  I just received a response from Jesse who was kind enough to send me a copy of all the recipes that came with the combo.  I would be glad to share the Word Doc with anyone who wants it.  The bread is quick and easy to make and requires only one rise in the pan.



rbhunsaker's picture

Ian's Whole Wheat Bread

May 29, 2012 - 1:14pm -- rbhunsaker

Well, I gave Ian's recent whole wheat bread a go and it turned out quite nice.  A bit denser than I expected, but still, a great loaf of bread. It makes for great toast, and sliced real thin it made of an excellent sandwich.  The loaf reminded me of a hearty German bread.  I'll try it with cheese for this evenings happytizers.  I'd not used spelt flour before and I was impressed with it's flavor, aroma and  texture.  I don't have an official banneton, so when I'm making a boule I use a strainer and usually when making batards, I use a towel and make valleys.  I planned on making just one lo


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