The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My First Attempt at Whole Wheat Bread

R.Acosta's picture

My First Attempt at Whole Wheat Bread


Up until now I've avoided doing anything whole wheat, just because I've gotten the feeling that whole wheat bread is a little more finnicky than its white bread cousin.  However, I don't want to be a one trick pony, so on our last grocery run I closed my eyes and tossed in a bag of King Arthur's Whole Wheat Flour, praying that whatever resulted would exceed the $4.00 of the bag's worth (I'm still on the look out for flour in bulk so I don't have to re-up every two or thee weeks.) I'm soaking the flour now. The anticipation of the loaves to come is already killing me!!


So I've run into my first red flag.  I think I know the difference between sticky and tacky, and no matter how much bread flour I kept adding my dough remained stubbornly sticky.  After finally achieving a slightly less sticky feel I quit adding flour and kneaded the best I could for fear that more flour would only result in a whole wheat brick. I think by the end of it I had added at least 3 cups of bread flour (pretty much double what the recipe called for). And after reading the recipe again I realized I have only half the yeast it recommends.  The damage is done, now we wait...


The dough rose beautifully! I'd never realized what a perfect rising location my windowsill was until now :).  I noticed when I punched it down it didn't seem to release too much air, which I thought odd.  Anyways, wanting to follow the recipe to a T I went against my usual method of forming sandwich loaves, which is normally to roll them out and then roll them up and pinch the seam, etc., and decided to just divide the dough in half and gently form the loaf shape before placing in the pan.  My daughter decided I needed some help with this step....

And the resulting loaves after formed:


I took it out of the oven, and I must confess I was prepared for an absolute failure since the loaves were pretty flat :(...

However after a fifteen minute rest and a peek inside.......

I was sooo pleased! The crumb was soft and moist and airy, and the crust was crackly and sweet and delicious.  We had to quit sampling and take some pictures before the whole loaf was gone!  Yummy!  Well I'm off to enjoy the rest of this success! Thank you for a wonderful recipe, Floyd!



ehanner's picture

Beautiful looking bread. I struggled for a long time to get a nice WW loaf. Very nice.


R.Acosta's picture

Thanks Eric! I was very happy with everything besides the overall shape of the loaf, but I'm wondering if that's due to not having enough yeast.  Anyways, we've already eaten down to half a loaf so I gotta give this another go! Also, does wheat flour just produce a stickier dough, or does it normally reach the tacky phase that I found difficult to achieve?


spsq's picture

It's hard to know for sure  because you don't have a pic of the baked loaves in the pan, but it's possible that the shape "problem" is simply due to not enough dough for the size of the pan.  (sorry, bad sentence structure)  Judging by the crumb pics, it seems the bread is risen enough - ww rarely has an open crumb, but softness is a good indication of a proper rise.

congrats!  and the baby is such a good helper!

R.Acosta's picture

I was wondering if that might have had something to do with it!  I only have one size pan so I might have to increase the recipe somewhat.  Thanks for that suggestion :).  Ha, yeah she's a baker in the making!


clazar123's picture

They may have risen higher,given time, if it had only half the yeast. Do a search for "finger poke" to tell if a loaf is proofed/risen and ready to bake.

Nice crumb!

R.Acosta's picture

and completely forget the finger poke test.  I will keep that in mind when I make this again tomorrow, as well as put in the proper amount of yeast :)

Thank you!

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Whole wheat is a little trickier but you're on your way. Weighing ingredients is really helpful, if you can get a scale. You do want a sticky dough and it's easy to over and under knead whole wheat. 

I use an autolyse of one hour to help absorb extra water before adding yeast/salt. 

I knead on the machine until the dough comes away from the sides and gluten forms but not until you get a good window pane.

I then do some stretch and folds during rising. Long retardation s are also helpful as the gluten seems to develop nicely.

Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book has a lot of help and great recipes.