The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

whole wheat

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Caltrain's picture

I'm relatively new to breadmaking and I've been lurking here quite a bit. I think it's about time I made my first post, but since I want to show off my bread, why not make it a blog post?

^ Whole wheat sourdough ready for their overnight retard. Obama lurks in the background, waiting. Some 14 hours later, the boule pops out of the oven.

Lately I've been increasingly obsessed with baking (well, eating) the best damn whole wheat sourdough. WGB got me off to a good start, as did Laurel's but, ehh... something was missing. WGB was an amazing read, but its hearth bread made with sourdough... it was dense, chewy, and not at all what I wanted. The flavor was maybe not the right kind of nutty. So what it came down to was me searching this site inside out. There's quite a bit of valuable information around these parts! This last link also saved my sanity once or twice. :p

There were plenty of flat loafs in between, but I think I've got it.


I used 100% hydration sourdough starter that's ~3 months old. The final hydration was 82%.

I'm happy with how the loaf turned out. The oven spring was far better than I expected. I think the final tweak that made everything "click" was to not flip the dough onto a flat board for scoring, but into a shallow, parchment-lined bowl. The curvature of the bowl angled the dough in such a way that I got a flat surface to score. It made the dough look somewhat deflated and scoring actually harder without the surface tension, but somehow the "liveliness" of the dough was preserved better in the end. I scored the dough, then lifted it out by the parchment and dumped the whole affair into a covered 3.6 quart wide-lipped casserole. The casserole was also another great discovery. I dug it out of a thrift store intending to use the flat lid as a base, but found that using it right-side up gave the loaf juuust the right amount of structural support while still being largely free standing. I baked the loaf at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, and that was that.

^ The crumb.

I also whipped up some 115% hydration dough/batter for a shot at ciabatta.

^ The ciabatta posing with the boule in the back.

Like the round, I made an overnight soaker containing half the final flour and all of the salt and water. The ciabatta soaker was so hydrated that the water and flour gave up and separated into their own sedimentary layers. Not pretty. The next day I added the starter and remaining flour and stretch-and-folded it in the container with one hour rests in between. After the 3rd set of folding, the batter started peel easily from the container and I decided to divide dough into two and placed 'em in the fridge.

I wasn't expecting much of the ciabatta. It was just a side experiment, and the open vent on my aging oven makes steaming futile. I've gotten around on the boule with the glass casserole, but for the ciabatta, I just cranked my oven up to as high as it'll go and chucked in the ciabatta on the tiles for 10-15 minutes. There still managed to be pretty good oven spring.

So, how'd it do?

^ Damn. Either it was under-kneaded or flour simply wasn't meant to be this hydrated.

I ended up getting a cavern, and over-floured it while trying to shape it. Oh well; that didn't stop the bread from being some of the most deliciously airy and fluffy bread I've tasted with just the right tang. Once the excess flour was vigorously patted off, anyways.

So, there you go. If anyone would like the full recipe for the ciabatta, I'd be happy to post it. I'm still tweaking the hydration and so forth.

^ One last shot of the crust. Btw, apologies if the pictures seem washed out, poorly composed, or whatever. I'm not a photographer by any means.

Whole Wheat Sourdough

Soaker grams
whole wheat flour 230 g
salt 4 g
water 340 g
Final grams
soaker 574 g
starter (100% hydration)
140 g
salt 3-5 g
whole wheat flour 200 g
total 917 g
  1. On the day before:
    • Refresh the starter and thoroughly mix the soaker ingredients.

    • Cover the soaker and let it sit for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature for an overnight autolyse.

  2. Mixing and first rise:
    • Mix all final ingredients. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes, then stretch-and-fold in the bowl to ensure hydration is even. Cover the bowl, and let it sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.

    • I pre-heated an insulated proofing box (a cooler) with a heat pad set to "low". The ambient temperature should be around 90 degrees.

    • Stretch-and-fold the dough 3 times, with one hour rests following each iteration in the proofing box.

  3. Shaping and final proof:
    • Pre-shape, rest 15 minutes, then shape. Place the dough in cloth-lined proofing basket and cover snuggly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

    • Place the basket immediately in the refrigerator for a 12-24 hour overnight rise.

  4. Baking:
    • Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it rest for 90 minutes.

    • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 475 F with a baking stone and a covered 3.6 qt glass casserole.

    • Flip the dough into a shallow, parchment-lined bowl. Score the dough.

    • Place the dough in the casserole, cover it, and bake for 30-35 minutes at 450 F degrees.

kranieri's picture

second endeavor after coming back to my electric oven after a month of wood fired brick oven adventures. delicious little rolls for pretty much anything, for me it was a dinner roll.

pretty good rise for a 100% whole wheat, but that seems to be the standard since switching to natural leaven, open crumb, super moist. i was quite pleased. the crust was pretty good too even for the electric oven, although my heart still has a brick oven sized hole...



nam_'s picture

Whole Wheat /Whole Rye sandwich loaf recipie needed

June 23, 2009 - 9:26am -- nam_

Hi Everyone,

I'm fairly new here and am still searching my way through all the informative posts. So please forgive me if this is a repeat question and kindly point me to right discussion.

I am trying to find a recipe that would help me make soft sandwich roll (sub like / torpedo) from whole rye + whole wheat. I would like rye to be around 20% but given the whole rye nature, I don't mind going down to 15% or 10% even.

Steve H's picture

Reinhart Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread (Flat)

June 15, 2009 - 7:00am -- Steve H

I made the Reinhart 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich bread (the first one in the book, I'm pretty sure) and it came out flat like a Ciabatta.  I tried to make a Batard, per the instructions, and it just didn't come out.  The dough lacked the strength to hold its shape for very long so it flattened out while proofing.

I used a Kitchenaid dough hook to do the mixing.  I am thinking that the dough needed to be stretched and folded somewhere in the process, maybe, to build up strength in the dough.  Anyone had any experience with this and know where I might be going wrong?

Rosalie's picture

I tried to include a picture, but I'm not adept enough with my photo editor and the online host.  Maybe another time.  But, trust me, they look and taste good.

They're the Four-Seed Snack Crackers on page 122 of Brother Juniper's Bread Book by Peter Reinhart.

Grind 1 cup each sunflower and pumpkin seeds into a flour in the blender.  Also grind 1/2 cup flax seeds in the coffee grinder.  He has you grinding all three seeds together, but the flax seeds did not break down properly.  Mix with 3-1/2 cups ww flour (or ap if you must), 1 cup sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon salt, 5 tablespoons honey, and 1/2 cup oil; add 6-8 ounces of water as needed to make a ball of dough. Knead about 10 minutes "until smooth, firm, but elastic, satiny rather than tacky" about 10 minutes.  Then place in an oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap for at least 10 minutes (I left it overnight).**

Divide into six pieces.  I rolled each piece into a ball and flattened it.  Then I placed five of the flattened balls on a cookie sheet in the freezer for a few hours before placing them in a freezer bag.  They'll keep up to three months.  Roll today's dough out to about 1/8 inch thick.  (It was still stiff from the refrigerator, so I nuked it for a few seconds before rolling.)  I found that my Sil-Pat (little brother to the Roul-Pat) was adequate because the dough was oily enough, but he warns that you should re-flour as needed.  Then he has you use a biscuit cutter or a pizza roller knife to cut out round or diamond shapes, but I used a plastic dough scraper - gently - on my Sil-Pat and cut out random shapes.  I just wanted crackers and wasn't trying to impress the bridge club.

Finally, you can mist the top of the crackers with water and sprinkle with more sesame seeds or other toppings, but I didn't.  I just baked in a 340-degree F oven for 20-25 minutes until they're light golden brown.  You're warned to let them cool for at least 20 minutes so that they'll crisp up.

My first batch is now almost gone.  When I'm ready, I'll pull out another piece of dough, defrost it, and repeat.  I can keep the crackers coming with just a little effort.


**EDIT:  PLACE IN REFRIGERATOR - Details! Details!

ehanner's picture

A few weeks ago I saw a post with a reference to a Honey Lemon Whole Wheat loaf. As I recall a couple posters had commented that this bread was high on the best breads list for them. A fellow I have high regard for (PMcCool), suggested I would like it, so I decided to give it a spin.

The original recipe is from Bernard Clayton. One of the things Clayton does in this and other recipes I have made is to use very warm water for the mix along with a short primary ferment time and then an overnight chilled proof. Since the dough starts off life warm, it does rise fully while in the refrigerator. I suspect this also helps develop a better flavor. Another component of the flavor being the grated lemon rind, I suspect is enhanced by the warm water helping release the oils of the fruit.

The crumb is about what you would expect from a 40% Whole Wheat mix. The dough and later the bread has a very unusual and surprising aroma with the Lemon. This is an aromatic bread of the highest order. Paul said he liked the way the lemon plays off the WW and I think that's a good description of what I sence. So grab a copy of Claytons book and give this a try.


arlo's picture

Reinhart's Whole Grain Hearth Bread

May 19, 2009 - 1:49pm -- arlo

Well, here was my first attempt at making Reinhart's Whole Grain hearth bread. I just finished it this morning after having both the biga and soaker in my refridgerator for two days. I have made loaves before, real simple ones though, some turn out fine, some are bricks. Always with organic whole grains though especially since I am the grocery buyer at my local co-op and we recieve fresh, organic, locally milled flours...and it cost me a little less than the normal shopper : )


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