The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I have a problem

aytab's picture

I have a problem

I have a problem. My wife and I eventually want to open our own bakery and that means that we will need to make some kinds of Whole Wheat Breads to sell. The problem is we both absolutley hate whole wheat bread. (Gasp) I grew up in a house where the only bread we were allowed to eat was Whole Wheat bread and to this day I can't stand it. So the problem is, I can test recipes etc, but I couldn't tell you if its a good loaf of Whole Wheat bread or not because I hate WW bread (gasp). Any suggestions? The only thing I can think of is to find someone that loves WW and use them as a tester.

PastryPaul's picture

I don't mind a WW bread right up to about a 60-40 whole wheat-white flour ratio, after that YUCH! Don't even get me started on 100% whole wheat whole grain bread of the "integrale" type, which to me tastes like compressed sawdust but which many of our customer go gaga over and wait in line for them.

That being said, at least for us, WW accounts for 27% of bread sales, so you have to make an effort. FYI our WW offerings are 30% WW, 45% WW, 60%WW 100%WW and 100% whole wheat whole grain. The 30% and 45% sell best.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote, "find someone that loves WW and use them as a tester."

Cheers and good luck with the bakery

ananda's picture

Hello aytab,

Maybe if you want to bake professionally, and you have come far enough to realise you HAVE to make a wholewheat bread, it may not be too cruel to suggest that you just have to get over your phobia.

There are many people who view this type of bread as their regular everyday loaf.   If you cannot relate to that, then should you even be trying to make this type of bread?

Harsh words, but I believe fair.

Best wishes


gmabaking's picture

Andy, I don't think you were being harsh in sharing your opinion. And yes I do think you were being fair. The rub is that it would be great if we could all get over our phobias just by wishing it were so.  So Aytab, probably even worse than admitting you don't like ww bread, I have to admit that I really don't care much for rye bread (another gasp!). That doesn't mean that I don't work at making good rye bread and even meeting with success now and again. I'm lucky to have a husband who loves rye bread of any type. I'm sure he will even enjoy the two cute little loaves of Mild deli rye that just came out of the oven although his favorites are the darker black breads. The test baking and now the challenge baking for ITJB has taken me out of my comfort zone many times.  I now know that I can put the same care and effort that I put into Norm's onion rolls into a loaf of bread that I know I will barely taste.

I would suggest finding some favorite recipes for different types of ww bread and then finding willing tasters to help you pick one recipe to perfect. I have a feeling you will receive lots of help from TFL on doing just that!

Good luck with your bakery and your quest for some great breads (even whole wheat and rye)


PastryPaul's picture

Andy's comments are not just valid, they are the whole truth. To make the shift to pro baking you have to go past your personal likes and dislikes in order to meet your customers' likes. Phobias have no place in this business. We have lots of stuff with pears and peaches, two fruits that I won't eat unless at gunpoint. Are they good? I assume so since they usually sell out. Do I know from personal experience? Nope.

I can't stress enough the importance of focus groups, even very informal ones, in product selection, even on stuff you like. You really need to  let go of your personal likes and go with those of your customers. It was focus groups that made us increase the size of our baguettes and croissants. Another focus group led us to dulce de leche croissants. Yet another led us away from cupcakes to cinnamon buns.

When I first started out, I made my bread the way I like it, saltier than normal, and saltier than most people liked. I packpeddled in a real hurry when I got customer feedback. Hint: Get that feedback first!

An amateur can get away with only baking his/her favs, but a pro had better be able to bake everbody's favs, and bake them well. Imagine a bakery that only made Semolina loaves, roasted red pepper fougasse, and Opera cakes ( my favs) LOL! 


fancy4baking's picture

Well said Andy. Aytab dear, if i inculcate in my mind how bad something is "according to my taste", how would i ever be able to convince others of it?!! No matter what how much i try, or what path i take, i won't be able to create success with something i judged as failure beforehand. 

Anyhow, if i were you (gladly i'm not cos i love whote wheat) and i'm not saying that you are wrong, neither am i under-estimating you, what i would do in such a case is:

i would start baking whole wheat breads as per recipes described in books or recipes i know by heart ---whatever--- then i would offer them to regular people (customers) taking as much notes as i can collect about what they think of my bread. Ultimately i would definitely come out with a list of findings on how to improve my production as opposed to people likes and dislikes.

In all cases good luck with your project.


aytab's picture

I think you were being completely fair. I do need to realize that my problem with WW does probably have more to do with my upbringing than it does with the actual flavor of WW bread. Thank you ananda for helping me to realize that fact. I think what I am going to do is work on some recipes that include a lower percentage of WW first say 20-25% and then work my way up from there. Sort of like the frog in the pot of water kind of thing. Once again thank you ananda for not being harsh but being truly fair and making me stand up to what is really just something in my own head, I hope. It might turn out that I just truly don't like the taste of WW (sort of like a rutabaga) and if that turns out to be the case I will find a taste tester. 

dmsnyder's picture

Maybe you and WW just can't get along, but I wouldn't stop looking for a version you do like. My own favorite is the 100% WW bread in Reinhart's BBA. It is moist and has a delicious flavor. It makes wonderful toast. It is also a great sandwich bread - Tuna salad, egg salad, PB&J, especially.

You might also try baking with white whole wheat which has less flavor of bran.

Try to get hold of a copy of Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Baking." Read the material on how to get the good flavors from whole grains. It may give you some good ideas for how to make WW breads you actually enjoy.


fancy4baking's picture

I couldn't find any books in the book stores for Peter Reinhart of Jefrrey Hamalman here where i live. A friend of mine is in Canada now and will be back pretty soon. So he offered me buying bread books from there for me, so what books for Reinhart and Hamelman should i ask him to bring to me? Or what's their best? Do you think there is books as good as Reinhart's or Hamelman's?

Thanks David,


dmsnyder's picture

Hamelman has just one book, but it is one you should have. It's title is "Bread."  There is going to be a new edition coming out this Fall, so you might want to wait to buy it until then.

Peter Reinhart's most often recommended book is "The Bread Baker's Apprentice," but he has other books which are more specialized on whole grain baking, pizza, for example.


LapLap's picture

For me, Reinhart's WW book and Laurel's Kitchen Breadbook, a guide to WW baking complement each other beautifully.  I have to admit that I'm getting pulled over more and more to Laurel's recipes although I sometimes incorporate some of the techniques I learned from Reinhart.  The Desem loaf is fabulous and the buttermilk bread is one of the easiest truly excellent WW recipes I've ever tried.

Here's a slightly tampered with version of the buttermilk bread

Rosalie's picture

I suggest that you make it a mission to find a whole wheat recipe that YOU like.  Starting with whole/refined blends is a good idea.  Maybe even mix in other grains.  Look through all the books suggested.  Make variations of your own.  If you're going to open your own bakery, you should be able to improvise.  And if YOU like it, everyone else who tries it will LOVE it.


Ford's picture

Whole-Wheat Sourdough Bread


3 cups (27 oz.) refreshed whole wheat sourdough starter (100% hydr.), at 70 to 80°F

33/4 cups (16 oz.) whole-wheat flour, King Arthur brand, finely milled*

4 cups (34.0 oz.) 80°F scalded milk

(1 cup [3.3 oz.] oat meal, pulverized to a flour, optional, decrease flour by 3/4 cup [3.1 oz])

1/3 cup (3.8 oz.) honey, or brown sugar, or corn syrup

~5 to 5 1/2 cups (21.2 to 23.4 oz.) unbleached bread flour (King Arthur brand preferred)

1/4 cup (2 oz.) melted butter (or corn oil)

1 1/2 Tbs. (1 oz.) salt

1/4 cup (2 oz.) melted butter (or corn oil) for brushing dough and the baked bread


~78% hydration.  ~50% whole wheat flour.  3 loaves:~35.8oz.eachunbaked, ~33 oz. baked.  If white wheat flour starter is used then bread is 41% whole wheat.

*If you use stone ground, coarsely milled, whole-wheat flour (Arrowhead Mills), then use 3 1/4 cups, still 16 oz.


For the soaker, combine the, milk, honey, whole-wheat flour, and optional oat flour in a large bowl.  Cover and let sit about one hour to soften the bran, allow the flour grains to absorb water.

For the dough, mix the soaker, the refreshed, room temperature starter, the salt, and a quarter cup of melted butter.  Blend in as much bread flour as can be mixed with a spoon.  Turn out on to a floured surface, knead well, working in only as much of the flour as to give a non-tacky dough.  The dough will not be as elastic as the white bread dough.  Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and allow to ferment for thirty to sixty minutes, then gently degas the dough by folding it on itself.

Brush melted butter around the inside of three 5”x 8” loaf pans.  Again, place the dough on the floured surface and divide into three equal parts.  Shape the dough into loaves and place them into the loaf pans.  Brush each loaf with melted butter.  Cover with plastic wrap and let them rise until the dough comes well above the top of the pans, about 2 to 3 hours.  Do not keep the dough at room temperature for long periods as the acid in the sourdough may break down the gluten strands.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Place a broiler pan of boiling water on the shelf below the baking shelf.  If desired, slash each loaf with a greased razor blade or a very sharp knife, making a quarter inch deep cut.  Spray the loaves with a mist of water and place them on the middle shelf of the oven.  Spray the loaves two more times in the oven at two-minute intervals.  After fifteen minutes, set the oven temperature to 350°F and remove the pan of water.  Bake for an additional 40 minutes or until the interior temperature of the loaf reaches 195 to 200°F.

Turn the loaves on to a cake rack and brush all sides with melted butter.  Cover with a damp paper towel.  Cover the damp towel with plastic wrap.  Allow the loaves to cool before cutting or wrapping.  The loaves may then be frozen, if desired.

I have found that as I have gained experience in handling the dough I have been able to work with slacker dough, i. e. dough of higher hydration.  The slacker dough will produce a lighter loaf.


hanseata's picture

Aytab, I can feel your pain - my father made us children eat the German kind of dark rye every evening, rhyming: "Schwarzenbrot macht Wangen rot" (= "Black bread makes cheeks red"). It was like cod liver oil.

I disliked 100% rye breads, and I never bought any as a young adult. I also disliked higher percent whole wheat breads, because every 100% whole wheat bread I got (usually from health food stores) seemed way too "healthy", was brittle, dry and with an unpleasant "raw" taste.

But then came my ephiphany. Starting to bake my own breads after relocating to the US, I soon widened my repertoire, and with the purchase of Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads" a whole new whole wheat and rye world opened. Try one of those recipes with long fermentation and pre-doughs, and you will discover that whole wheat can be tasty. It only needs enough time to develop it taste.

Meanwhile I'm selling my breads to a local store, and I and my customers are very happy.


jaywillie's picture

Aytab, you've probably already dealt with this, but I would suggest you make an effort to use a high quality WW flour. It can make all the difference, at least in my experience. Mass-market WW flours have a bitter edge to them on my palate -- maybe that's what you were tasting as a kid. I make WW bread about every five days, to use as my family's main bread. When the only thing I change is the flour, I can tell a good flour from a bad flour.