The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

100% whole wheat bread (recipe, photos, invitation to criticism, and maybe a lesson)

venkitac's picture

100% whole wheat bread (recipe, photos, invitation to criticism, and maybe a lesson)


Well, not 100%. 95% whole wheat, 5% rye, 76% hydration, 8 hour poolish, commercial yeast, mix dough, overnight retarded ferment for 12 hours with 2 folds at hour 1 and 2, dechill, shape, proof, bake.













550 grams, 12 inches by 4.75 inches by 3 inches.


The one thing I felt I didn't get right was oven spring. One theory is ofcourse that I overproofed. My usual test for proofing is to see if dough comes back up slowly if I poke it gently, which it did this time - if anything it felt like it could proof more (any tips here for figuring out right proofing?). Also, handling overproofed dough, especially scoring, feels like dealing with a grenade, didn't have that feel. Still, could be.

My theory as to the lesson here is different, though: if you look carefully, I think I got good oven spring from the 2 cuts near the edges (atleast it's better than in the middle for sure), but not much at all from the 2 middle cuts. Now, the dough was retarded for the bulk fermentation, in a ball. I took out the ball of dough at 6.40, dechilled till 7.45, then prehspaed into an oval. When preshaping, the center of the ball of dough remained at the center of the oval. At 8AM, I shaped into a batard - still the center of the original ball was the center of the batard. At 9.30 or so, the loaf went into the oven. I believe what happened is that the temparature at the center of the batard was still significantly lower than the edge of the batard because I didn't really redistribute the dough during preshaping to even out the temparature. Maybe that's what happened. I'll remember to redistribute dough next time and see what kind of ovenspring I get.

Any other criticism is of course much appreciated. Crumb looks ok to me for a 95%/5% dough at 76% hydration.

xaipete's picture

Hey, I think your loaf looks just terrific. What progress you've made in so little time!

I think I got good oven spring from the 2 cuts near the edges (atleast it's better than in the middle for sure), but not much at all from the 2 middle cuts.

I'm going to post a couple of videos for you to look at below. I think you ought to consider scoring your batards vertically rather than horizontal. I'm betting the procedure in these videos will give you even more oven spring.




venkitac's picture

Thanks, that was useful. The loaf tastes great too:)

jannrn's picture

Ok...Granted I still have ALOT to learn yet, but why did you retard it?? And do you think it would have turned out better if you had let it "dechill" longer so the overall temp was closer to the same....outside as well as inside??? Educate me!! Also, please tell me what difference where you have scored the bread makes,.....horizontal as opposed to vertical.....thank you!!

venkitac's picture

Retarding was strictly a science experiment. I wanted to see what would happen to the flavor if I retarded the doug, that was all. I think the flavor was a bit better too.

I couldn't have let it proof longer to dechil, it'd have become overproofed. What I should have done is, before shaping the dough, I should have evened out dough temparature everywhere by kneading it out a bit (just one or two hand kneads should've done it). Then the loaf could've proofed evenly, outside and inside.

Horizontal vs. vertical, I could not tell you. I'm no expert on scoring, but David posted this:


Check it out.


venkitac's picture

OTOH, I must say that the bread didn't keep as well as it usually does. The difference from what I usually do is indeed the retardation. I'm wondering whether retarding 100% whole wheat (not sourdough) has a negative effect on keeping qualities. Anyone know?

In search of Zion's picture
In search of Zion

Hi There,  I could not help but send a comment as I too have strruggled with my whole wheat bread.  I grind my own wheat and have often surrendered and use some bread flour or VWG to get a better proof.  I have discoverd 2 secrets to successful 100% whole wheat bread!  First, the bottom of the loave needs to be narrower than the top which is why you noticed more spring on the ends.  I looks great by the way!  Also,  the poolish method does well to help develop the gluten in the wheat flour but....the sure thing is to use equal parts of vinegar to yeast.  I add it with the wet ingredients and my 100% wheat bread is a really nice sandwhich loaf!  

Try it to believe it!


venkitac's picture

Hi Shannon,

It is possible to get really open crumb with 100% whole wheat. I'm not saying I've done it, the above loaf is about what I get usually w.r.t oven spring and crumb (but the above crumb is not too bad IMHO). But if you look around in TFL there are folks who get a really open crumb with WW. I think it's a matter of technique, I'm still learning. Vinegar is a new one to me. I will try it. Do you know why vinegar gets you better oven spring?