The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Improving whole wheat bread

enaid's picture

Improving whole wheat bread

I have been making basic whole wheat yeast bread for decades.  It has always been satisfactory but I would like to make it, if possible, with a more open crumb.  I have always been conservative, keeping mainly to sandwich loaves and using the old fashioned method of kneading by hand and baking at about 190 degrees. Presently I am using 50/50 bread flour and whole wheat and sometimes incorporate different flours, grains, seeds, fruit, herbs, etc. Before coming across TFL, I had never heard of starters, poolish, sponges, bigas, retarding, preferment, baking stones and steaming, no knead bread, etc. I have experimented a little with a variety of these methods but have decided, for the present, to concentrate first on making a better basic yeast wholewheat dough. I am contemplating doing the following:-

1) using autolyse; (what hydration?)

2) retarding overnight in fridge (my fridge temp. is about 42 degrees); What is best - bulk retard or after shaping? 

3) stretch and fold before shaping (how many folds?)

Should I use some or all of these methods?  Is there anything else I can try?

All suggestions gratefully received.



clazar123's picture

There are a lot of different techniques to use, esp with whole wheat.

By hydrating the dough with whatever method (autolyse,preferment,retarding overnight in refrig) you can only improve the dough.

If you use AP rather than bread flour, and even a little pastry flour, you can make a soft whole wheat sandwich bread. It becomes almost fluffy if you enrich it with egg,milk and oil.

Search for "ciabotta". There was a whole wheat ciabotta postd a few months ago that looked quite holey and delicious.

Have fun!

Edith Pilaf's picture
Edith Pilaf

This is still my favorite (JMonkey's Buttermilk Whole Wheat with Biga): .  I've tried Reinhart's Whole Grain recipes which create complex flavors using two different preferments, but I have returned to this one, which is simpler and suits my tastes better.  The crumb is tender and moist, without having to add any white flour.

Ford's picture

I like to soak the whole grain flour with some (or all) of the liquid used in the recipe.  I do this for about 8 hours or so in the refrigerator.  This seems to allow more rise in the final loaf, than would happen if the whole gain flour were not soaked.