The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

whole wheat

anthliz's picture

Trying to make my 100th 'first loaf'

August 19, 2012 - 4:10am -- anthliz

Hi All, 

I have been baking bread my whole life, actually, so this is getting to be particularly frustrating for me. As a girl, my Grandma taught me to make simple yeast breads and Swedish sweet breads and rolls. Everyone in my family has their own twist, and we love baking my Grandma's bread roll recipes at the holidays. I am now all grown-up with a son and enough time on my hands to try to make our own perfect loaf of bread or French baguette at home. I want it to be healthy, yes, so I also play with different combinations of flours. 


lpenney77's picture

Holes in top of whole wheat dough

August 4, 2012 - 5:21pm -- lpenney77

Relatively new to bread making. I have become fixated on making a whole wheat sandwich loaf, and this is the second time I have tried a similar recipe. The taste is good, 80% whole wheat with a little honey and some oats. Both times I have made it though, the loaf isn't smooth on top. It gets holes. Is this a sign that it is over proofing? Or is it possibly too little kneading? Something else?

MarieH's picture

I have been working on developing a sourdough sandwich bread. I have taken my inspiration from recipes here on TFL and from King Arthur Flour. I finally settled on a formula that I am really happy with. The bread is soft with a tender crumb but the best part is the flavor. I used a starter to provide a very slight tang to the bread flour and added white whole wheat flour, golden flax meal, whole rye flour, and hi-maize cornmeal. I learned from Jeffrey Hamelman’s formulas that a small amount of an ingredient can have a big impact. If you try this recipe, I hope you like it as much as I do.  ~Marie

Super Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

11 ounces 100% sourdough starter, fed or unfed (see note)

11 1/2 ounces water

1 ounce vegetable oil

1 ounce sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 ounce golden flax meal

3 ounces potato flour

11 1/2 ounces bread flour

4 ounces white whole wheat flour

1 ounce corn meal (I used hi-maize)

2 ounces whole rye (pumpernickel) flour

4 teaspoons instant yeast

Note on the starter: the starter is more for flavor than lift. I usually build the 11 ounces a few days ahead and refrigerate it until I am ready to bake.

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and with the dough hook, mix on speed 1 for one minute to create a shaggy dough.

Cover and let rest for 45 minutes.

Knead on speed 2 for 5 minutes.

The dough will start out shaggy, then become stickier as you knead. Don’t adjust with flour or water until you have kneaded for 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl. The dough will stick to the sides of the bowl. It is the right consistency if you can scrape it off the sides of the bowl and it feels firm enough to hold its shape.

Knead for 3 more minutes. Scrape the bowl to create a rough dough ball. Cover the dough, and allow it to rise at 78 degrees for 1 hour (you will need a longer rise at lower temps) until doubled in bulk.

Lightly grease two 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" bread pans. Turn the dough out onto a floured board. The dough is sticky and you will need to flour your hands and the board to prevent sticking and tearing. Gently deflate the risen dough, divide in to two equal pieces, and shape into loafs. Place dough in the pans, cover lightly, and allow it to rise until the dough crests 1 1/2” over the rim of the pans, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the bread for 30 to 35 minutes, tenting with foil after 20 minutes. When done, the bread will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer and will be golden brown.

Remove the bread from the oven, remove from pans, and cool completely on a rack.

 After 5 minutes kneading:

After full kneading and scraped down:

Finished Loaves:

hanseata's picture

The owner of A&B Naturals, the store that sells my bread, asked me one day: "Can you bake pitas, too?" I had never made them, so I said with conviction: "Yes!"

At least I knew where I could find a pita recipe!

In "Whole Grain Breads", one of my favorite baking books, Peter Reinhart has a recipe for whole wheat pitas - just the right thing for my grain loving customers.

I started my first pita dough. No big deal, until I got to the shaping part. The pitas had to be rolled out no thinner than 1/4 inch (6 mm), and to an 8-inch (20 cm) diameter. But my pitas already reached this thickness at 6 1/2 to 7 inches (16 to 18 cm.)

Pitas are shaped in three steps, first into rolls, then rolled out to 4"/10 cm. Don't skimp on the flouring!

Below: rolling out pitas to a larger round (6 1/2 - 7" or 16 - 18 cm.) Re-flour them, if necessary.

A high oven temperature is key to a pita's proper horizontal separation into two layers. This high temperature has to be maintained during the whole bake, from below as well as from above.

Many cheaper ovens don't heat up to the necessary 550ºF (280ºC.) Without that boost pitas can't produce the large gas bubble that creates a pocket. And without a pocket - no delicious filling!

A baking stone, or a rack lined with unglazed terracotta tiles (like I have), works best for keeping the  temperature stable, even when the oven door has to be opened several time during the baking process. And very hot stones make the best baking surface for pitas, too.

To reheat fast enough after each opening of the door I remembered Peter Reinhart's advice for baking pizza ("American Pie"), where the problem is the same: intermittently switching the oven to broil for a short time.

How many pitas can you bake at the same time? One batch of dough makes 8 (or 6, if you want larger ones.) Peter Reinhart says one at a time, but, of course, being a semi-professional I wanted to do it a little less time consuming.

After some trials, I found that I can put two at the same time in the oven. That's the maximum, with more it becomes very difficult to load and unload them without damage, and to keep control over their baking process.

2 pitas can be baked at the same time. Once out of the oven, they deflate quickly.

Of course, it takes a little bit of experience to slide the pitas into the oven without them folding over in one place, and to extricate them without nicking them with the peel.

But it's not rocket science, a smart child can do it:

  Josh, our carpenter's son, thought it was much more fun to help with my baking than reading his book!

Though Peter Reinhart's original 100% whole wheat pita is very good, I made a few changes to it. I substitute a 7-grain mix for some of the whole wheat flour, and add an overnight bulk rise in the fridge, this is more practical for my baking schedule, and, in my opinion, improves the taste even more. It also has the advantage that I can reduce the yeast amount by 2 grams.

Though I usually cut down on the sweetener in Peter Reinhart's recipes, this whole grain bread needs the full dose.

We like our pita filled with grilled Halloumi cheese, tomato and lettuce - the way we had it in Girne/Kyrenia on Cyprus. And how do my customers at A&B Naturals like them? They fly off the shelf so that I have to bake them every week!

Here is a link to the recipe in my blog "Brot & Bread".

knitsteel's picture

delectable planet whole wheat bread video

July 1, 2012 - 8:17pm -- knitsteel

I think I had my first success with whole wheat bread following the delectable planet website's recipe and video here on youtube

Are there any other good videos for total whole grain breads?  I've been doing some searches, but it's tough to sort out the totally whole grain bread videos from the ones that mix white and wheat.

dabrownman's picture

After the last white bread bake using the Pharaoh’s Mastaba, we went back to a 67% whole grain; rye and wheat bread with rye and wheat sprouts and a variety of add-ins and seeds including wheat germ, flax, coriander, pumpkin, hemp, rosemary, chia, cumin and red rye malt baked in another variation of the Chacon.

 The Chacon is quickly becoming a favorite bread shaping method.  It is a fun way to make bread with as many variations as one can conjure up and imagine.  This time we used a plain knotted roll in the middle of the basket and surrounded it with a plain two strand braid that was twisted (Twisted Sisters).  Then we added the remainder of the dough which contained all the add ins and sprouts as a disk to the top – which will become the bottom when tipped put of the basket.

This gave us a new but handsome boule shape that had no add-ins in the finish top and all the add-ins on the bottom.  It will be like having two different breads in each slice.

The Chacon came out of the basket easily and it slid into the mini oven, without slashing, just as well and onto my new ceramic tile / stone - which quickly broke when we threw water onit by accident before closing the door to steam.  No worries, the tile only cost 88 cents and I have 11 more of them.  In the back of the mini, we used Sylvia’s steaming method with a Pyrex 1 cup measure half full of water with dish rag in it.

 The stone worked well and the Chacon was very brown and crunchy when it came out of the oven and it smelled wonderful too.  The boule cracked at each twist of the sister and at the knot seams.  We just love the way the Chacon cracks almost exactly where we want it to and think it should instead of willy nilly.  

 The crumb shots and tasting will follow after the Chaon cools.  The formula and method follow the pix’s. 


The method was similar to our recent bakes with (3) - 4 hours each, 12 hour SD levain build.  This time it was not retarded overnight because we used some sliced onion in the build that made it smell more sour than normal.  The flours were autolysed with the wet and salt for 12 hours in the fridge too.  We have been adding the salt in with the autolyse recently and cannot tell any difference when we do it this way.  Forgetting to add the salt days are now over.

After soaking in water for 4 hours, we placed the seeds to be sprouted on 2 damp paper towels covered with another and wrapped in plastic on a plastic cutting board.  Half way through the 24 hour sprouting period, we re-dampened the top towel and covered it back up.  The seeds were sprouted in 24 hours. 

 We mixed the dough with the autolyse with the KA for 8 minutes on 2 and  2 minutes more on KA3.  The dough was then moved to an oiled, plastic covered bowl to rest for 15 minutes before doing 5 sets of S&F’s every 15 minutes on a floured work surface.  When the S&F’s were complete the dough was left to develop and ferment for 1 ½ hours before going into the fridge overnight for 8 hours.  In the morning the dough was allowed to come to room temperature over 1 ½ hours on the counter.

 The dough was then portioned into (3) 150 g pieces for the knotted roll and the 2 strand, ‘twisted sister’ braid.  In a rice floured basket the knotted roll went in first in the center, then the twisted sister went in around the knotted roll.  The remainder of the dough was flattened out gently and all the sprouts and add ins were incorporated.  Once the add ins were incorporated evenly, the remaining dough was shaped into a boule and allowed to rest for about 5 minutes until it had relaxed.

 It was then flattened into a disk the width of the basket and placed on top of the roll and braid to make the finished Chacon in 3 distinct sections.

 After a 2 hour proof it had passed the poke test and was ready for the mini oven stone and 12 minutes of steaming at 450 F regular bake.  The steam was then removed and the mini oven turned down to 425 F convection this time.  The Chacon was rotated 90 degrees every 5 minutes.

 After the 2nd rotation the oven was turned down to 400  F convection.  20 minutes after the steam was removed, the bread was done – 32 minutes total.  It was allowed to cool with the oven off and the door ajar for 10 more minutes before being moved to the cooling rack.

67% Whole Rye and Whole Wheat with Sprouts, Wheat Germ, Flax and Red Rye Malt.     
StarterBuild 1Build 2 Build 3Total%
SD Starter15100254.57%
Water 40 4010.00%
Milk 3000307.50%
Total Starter75907023558.75%
Levain % of Total25.59%    
Dough Flour %   
Dark Rye107.526.88%   
Potato Flakes102.50%   
Ground Flax Seed102.50%   
Dough Flour400100.00%   
Dough Hydration83.75%    
Total Flour547.5    
Milk 30, Water 432.5472.5    
T. Dough Hydration86.30%    
Whole Grain %69.50%    
Hydration w/ Adds82.53%    
Total Weight1,153    
Add - Ins %   
Wheat Germ102.50%   
Red Rye Malt30.75%   
Hemp 20, Chia 10, Pumpkin 306015.00%   
VW Gluten123.00%   
Multigrain Sprouts %   
Total Sprouts4010.00%   
Coriander, Cumin & Rosemary30.75%   
jschoell's picture

Make a soaker with whole wheat flour and spelt berries. Let it sit at room temp, covered. A day later, mix yeast with warm water and honey. After 5 minutes, add the foaming yeast to the soaker, along with some salt and enough whole wheat flour to make a sticky dough. Knead for 5 minutes, form a ball and transfer to a bowl coated with good EVOO. Let rise until doubled.

Pour out dough and slice off chunks that will form 3 inch diameter balls. Wrap balls in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze. 

After a day of chilling, preheat oven to 500 F, with a heavy cast iron pan on the middle rack. Pour 1/4 cup of poppy seeds on a work surface. Take the dough ball from the fridge, unwrap it, and flatten it on top of the poppy seed mound. Flip the dough over and smash it into the seeds again, sweeping the seeds into a pile as needed. Continue until the dough disc is black on both sides with poppy seeds. Slide it onto the preheated pan and bake until puffy, about 5-6 minutes. 

isand66's picture

I've been wanting to try my hand at making Phil's 100% Whole Wheat Desem bread since it sounded so simple but yet so good.  I had started preparing the Desem starter a while ago but had to abandon it when I went away for business.  I was not thrilled with the way it was turning out anyway so it wasn't a great loss.

I decided to try a different approach for building the starter from my 100% AP White Starter by doing a 3 stage build.  For the first build I used 50 grams of seed starter, 125 grams Bread Flour (KAF), 75 grams Organic Whole Wheat Flour and 200 grams of water.  I mixed this up and left it out at room temperature overnight for around 10 hours.  I then put it in the refrigerator until that evening when I proceeded to stage 2.  I added 142 grams of Whole Wheat, and 85.4 grams of Water.  I left this out again overnight and put it in the refrigerator until the next evening.

For the third and final build I added another 142 grams of Whole Wheat and 85 grams of water.  I left this out for one more evening and refrigerated it until that evening when I prepared the final dough.

I ended up making a lot more starter than I needed, but it was worth building it up to around 61% hydration as the starter was nice and fruity and ready to go to work!

Please see Phil's original recipe for the formula and his original procedures here  I decided to change his procedures by using my Bosche Mixer as follows:

After the flour autolyes for 1 hour I added the levain and mixed on speed #1 for 1 minute and #2 for 4 minutes.  I then did a stretch and fold, rested the dough uncovered for 10 minutes.  I then did another stretch and fold, covered the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.  I did one more stretch and fold and put it in a lightly oiled bowl for 2 hours.  I then put it in the fridge overnight.

The next day I let the dough sit out at room temperature for 2 hours.  After 2 hours I formed it into loaves and put them in floured bannetons and let them rise covered for 2 hours.

I then baked on my oven stone with steam at 450 degrees until both loaves were golden brown and reached an internal temperature of 200 - 210 degrees F.

The dough lived up to all of its good press and had a nice slightly sour/sweet taste.  I have been eating it all week and it makes great toast!


don.sandersg's picture

Help with Whole Wheat Sourdough Pan Loaf with Rye deflating in the oven.

May 10, 2012 - 7:27am -- don.sandersg

I'm trying to bake a simple pan loaf of bread with 50% whole wheat flour, 25% whole white flour, and 25% rye flour.  I've tried various things to try to get a nice rise and open crumb but every time I bake it the loaf seems to deflate in the oven.  It loses height and pulls away from the side of the pan.  I've tried rising longer, rising less, adding gluten, increasing hydration, hand kneading, folding, machine kneading, rising in the oven with the light on, rising at room temp (~71*), etc.  Any thoughts on what could be going wrong? 


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