The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

At(ta) Last!

Richard C's picture
Richard C

At(ta) Last!

Finally, I achieved what I've been struggling toward for some time; 100% wholewheat bread which is pillow soft and tasty.  A big step was receiving The Bread Bible for my birthday recently - while I haven't tried any of her recipes (which all seem to use white flour, with the odd dash of wholewheat) the explanation of techniques has made a big difference.

So, the ingredients, which are similar to what I've been using to date:

  • 1kg atta flour
  • 730ml water
  • 11g yeast
  • 15g salt

I started off with adding the yeast to 300g of flour and mixing in 300ml of water, which I then left for around 1.5 hours.  Everything else then got mixed in the Kenwood and once the dough was combined I let it sit for 40 minutes (I had planned on 20, but got distracted by lunch!).  7 minutes of kneading in the machine were followed by sitting for around an hour (until doubled).

Then, instead of punching down as I normally would, I took out the dough and did one stretch & fold.  Back into the bowl, and then within half an hour, it had doubled again.  Then, I shaped the loaves as per TBB and then placed them in the bannetons.  Half an hour or so after that, it was out onto the tray, quick slash and into the oven.  10 minutes at 220°C, then down to 200°C for 20 minutes.  Ice cubes in a tray on the bottom.

I took Rose LB's advice about being more confident with the slashes and got nice neat slashes with no tearing, but I probably overdid it on the depth which I think resulted in more horizontal spread than hoped for.

This was last night and I'm still over the moon with my results, but the test will come next time; if I can replicate them or not.


clazar123's picture

Congratulations! It looks lovely! How does it taste? Whole wheat can be tricky to get that softness and you did it!

I would let it soak for 40 minutes next time,too! Whole wheat always needs time for all the little branny bits to absorb their water or it will rob the crumb of moisture after it is baked and become crumbly.

Regarding the horizontal spread. Use the search box for "finger poke test". Your loaf had lovely oven spring but perhaps a bit more than you wanted. Take a look at your crumb shot and look at the denser line of crumb at the bottom of your loaf. That is a sign of slight underproofing.Dough rises from the top down,which makes sense as the top doesn't have the weight of the full dough above it. A perfectly proofed dough (a good goal but one I have rarely achieved still) has a consistent look from bottom to top with a very slight line of denseness on the bottom. It sounds like you proofed it for 30 minutes in the banneton. It probably could have gone 10-15 minutes more.....on that day. This is the trickiest part of determining when dough is perfectly ready for baking. On another day (a different ambient room temp,different water temp,etc) and 30 minutes would have been perfect.

Make a note of the brand of atta flour and use that for your following loaves. Some atta flours simply won't make a good loaf. They have been milled at high temp which can cause damage to the starch and affect gluten formation. Great for flat breads but not so great for high-risen sandwich loaves.

That is a large recipe! Being in grams, you could scale it back, if you wanted to. The beauty of weighing ingredients! 

Congratulatons and keep having delicious fun!  

Richard C's picture
Richard C

Thanks, clazar123.  I think I always err on the side of under-proofing, as I'm terrified of over-proofing.  I'll definitely check out the "finger poke test", to reduce the margin of error.

I like working with 1kg of flour as (a) it's super easy to work out percentages, and (b) it makes two loaves, which currently is enough for my family for one week.

The taste is very subtle, so I often add in some herbs or seeds for a bit of flavour.  With this loaf, I feel that it could do with a bit more salt for taste, but knowing the salt has an impact on the yeast as well, I'm wary of that.

Elsasquerino's picture

But might have a go. That's a great looking loaf, I always think of flat breads with atta flour. So much to try...