The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

100% whole wheat test

sam's picture

100% whole wheat test


Intrigued by the method in PR's "Whole Grains" book, I decided to try it out.  I milled a batch of organic hard red wheat, and basically split the formula in half.  One half for a long cold levain (w/starter) to make the acids, and the other half as a flour-soaker to break down some of the carbohydrates into sugars.  I think PR refers to it as an "epoxy".  You then join the two halves together, optionally spike it with bakers yeast (for a quick leavening), and bake.

For my milled flour, the 75% hydration was a little too slack, or mabye I had not developed the dough well enough -- the loaves expanded more horizontally than vertically in the oven.  But, no matter.  The aroma in the house is intoxicating.  It's been a while since I've done any high percentage grain breads.  Next time I might lower the hydration a bit, S&F the final dough more, or simply put into a 9x5 pan or something.   Taste is incredible, pre-soaking the whole-wheat flour works.  No need to add any sugars (honey or anything) to it!   It has a deep, slightly sweet whole grain taste, with the tang from the sour levain.  It almost has a buttery taste, as if someone lightly buttered the bread.  If I had wanted to wait longer, I could have let my levain do the final rise at room temp by itself, but I chose to try the quicker leavening method by adding some baker's yeast (since all the flavors were supposed to have been developed already, only thing left to do is leaven).

Not much to look at, though...  next time will be better.   :)



Mebake's picture

Nice looking Loaves, gvz! iam sure they taste great!

As to the flatness of the loaves this could be attributed to so many factors:

1 - None sufficient development of the final dough. 100% Wholewheat needs more kneading (Try richard bertinet's Slap and fold method for your slack dough)

2-  your soudough levain is proteolytic (i.e. bacteria has digested more gluten and degraded you BIGA's structure) which explains the slack end product.

3 - You have overproofed your dough.

Keep at it, this time make sure the levain in the BIGA is healthy, or use only yeast in the BIGA.

waiting to see your new posts!

Chuck's picture

Those don't look all that different than mine, and if they tasted really great I personally wouldn't classify them as problematic.

My rather minimal goal for freestanding loaves is simply to have the loaf height be more than half the loaf width.

I've found gluten sheaths and oven spring and slashing to all be helpful  ...but not enough by themselves. Like you, I've found that sufficiently developing the gluten to hold the loaf's shape also closes my crumb more than I'd like.

What I've found helpful for somewhat taller shape is:

  • constraining the proof, either with a basket or with a couple rolled up towels under the parchment paper
  • moving the proofed loaf into the oven very quickly - I get the water all set for steam, trim the parchment paper, slash the loaf, put on one of my oven mitts, and get my peel on my counterop, and only then remove one of the rolled up towels and use the peel to shovel the loaf into the oven in just a few seconds


Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

Those look very good.  I like the crumb.  The epoxy method is far and away the best I've used for whole grain and works very well for freshly ground wheat berries.

I have lowered the hydration to about 70% for my loaves and have seen better results with yeasted biga than with sourdough, but I continue to experiment with sourdough.


sam's picture

Thanks for the replies.   I believe my starter + levains were healthy and fine.   I think I have more learning to do about proper gluten development.  I've been bouncing between under-mixing and over-mixing, and occasionally getting it right, only by accident though.  If I over-mix, I will get a taller loaf but a closed crumb and bland taste.  To avoid that, lately I've just been barely mixing the ingredients in my stand mixer to incorporate the ingredients into a shaggy mass, then doing S&Fs (in the bowl)...  but apparently not well enough, especially with the higher hydration doughs.  I haven't been religious about the windowpane tests either.   So overall kind of sloppy procedures, now that I think about it. 

I will go back to basics, not even care if I bake anything, just mix+develop various doughs a bunch of times at different hydrations, with repeated windowpane tests to see how the development is at different stages.

But, the taste of the PR method is really good, I was surprised.