The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread and friendship in the time of covid-19

suminandi's picture

Bread and friendship in the time of covid-19

I’m lucky to have (so far) a healthy household and furthermore employment that I can accomplish with telework. 

I continue to bake 100% wholewheat sourdough, thanks to buying flour from a local-ish farmer. It is California grown red fife and after a few experiments, I’m getting delicious, light ( for ww) loaves out of it. I’ve been sharing loaves with friends which has given us all a chance for a few minutes socializing in the driveway. One friend even brought his violin and played some tunes :-). 

Here’s a crumb picture 


loydb's picture

Excellent crumb! I wish I could get that good on my 100% WW. Do you mind sharing recipe/technique? Thanks.


suminandi's picture


I don't use a recipe, more like a set of rules-of-thumb. I usually have to adjust them slightly when I try a new whole grain type or supplier. Usually, my starting point is to add 70% water to the ww flour, and add 10-20% active sourdough starter to it. After mixing, if it's stiff (or it's not possible to get all the flour moist) I add water 3% or so at a time until the mixture is somewhat pliant. Then I leave it for 30 min or so. Finally, I add 2% salt, mix somewhat, and let rest a while (maybe an hour). Then mix/knead until it is extensible, so ~5 min. Then leave it to bulk ferment at cool room temp until it rises 50% or so. Sometimes I fold it during that period, sometimes I don't. this is about 6-8 hrs at current room temp (68 F) the larger amount of starter, or overnight with the smaller. Then, I gently preshape, shape, final proof until ready, and bake at about 450 until done (depends on the size). If I know the particular grain and whether I'm planning to overnight the bulk or not, I mix stuff up in one round (no adding water 3% at a time). For instance, I know this red fife takes 78% hydration before becoming too extensible (which is fine, if you're after a ciabatta type thing, but I'm after toast or sandwiches). 

I think the important things are 1) get a good bulk ferment (a baby bear one - not too long or too short), 2) bake thoroughly-helps to use a thermo until you can recognize the signs of doneness. I think doing a long cool ferment really helps with whole grain. Putting in a proofer tends to speed it up so much that you miss the baby bear stage - whole grain ferments fast compared to white flour. And also, more time helps soak and mellow the bran, so it has a less rough texture. I also have a very good and predictable starter and it is 100% hydration of whatever whole grain flour I have on hand. 

I hope that was helpful. I know it was a bit freeform. Happy baking.