The Fresh Loaf

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Approachable Loaf-pt 1

Sugarowl's picture

Approachable Loaf-pt 1

This is my try on the "The Approachable Loaf using Commercial Yeast and Poolish" Community Bake from 2020.

Link here:


  1. Room temperature was 76F the whole time. It is not cool here.

  2. I am using molasses and brown sugar instead of honey (another poster did this so I am using their numbers). Another poster said honey can inhibit yeast and I wanted to try molasses (going for that Steak & Ale bread).


259g Whole Wheat flour (King Arthur)

259g Water

1/16tsp Yeast (a pinch)


Final Dough

259g Whole Wheat Flour

10g Salt

5g Instant Yeast

18g Molasses

13g brown sugar

100g water (instead of 93g, I had a 100ml line on my measuring cup)


45g Hold-Out Water (reserved for just in case) original recipe called for 52g, but I put 7g of that above,

I ended up using all the water, so 404g water total.


What I did:

  1. Mix 259g Whole Wheat Flour (KA), 259g water, and ¼ of a 1/4tsp (1/16?) of yeast. Let sit for 2 hours at 76F then put in refrigerator until 7am. Very thick, like tomato paste. I think I used too little yeast in my poolish since I thought I was making a 500g loaf instead of a 1000g loaf. I had my spreadsheet numbers wrong, again.

  2. 7am: took out of fridge and let sit on the counter for 4 hours. No bubbles, still super thick.

  3. 11am: I gently folded in 100g water with my rice cooker spoon, still pretty thick but better.

  4. 12:30pm: starting to see a few bubbles. Starting to think I need to use all the water. 352g+53g = 405g which is 87% hydration instead of 68%. I've already used 359g at this point, so only 45g left to go. We will shall see.

  5. 1:30: still only a few bubbles, I think it's needs more yeast, but the mixture is not sticking to the sides so I think I will go ahead and do the rest of the ingredients soon.

  6. 2pm: Mixed in the rest of the water(45g), flour, sugars, and yeast. Let rest 20 minutes(2:15pm). Starting to look like bread dough! Dough was super sticky.

  7. 2:35pm: sprinkled on 10g salt. After kneading it in, let it rest for another 20 minutes. Dough did not stick to my hands, no dry clumps either. I have it in a big bowl and I smooshed it so it reached the edges instead of being a big ball.

  8. 3:00: Wasn't able to really do stretch and folds/slaps, I think the dough was too dry. But I was able to stretch it into a rectangle on my cutting board (14x9) then do a tri-fold, then stretch the folded rectangle to meet the length of the cutting board and do another tri-fold. I put that back in the bowl. Dough seemed to be too resistant for anything else. Rest for 30 minutes covered by a tea towel. I'm wondering if I should've spritzed some water on it somewhere, it's not wet, but not dry. I'm worried that the dough has not been slack at all like the white flour I've used before.

  9. 3:40: Did a stretch and fold. Shaped into a loaf and put in a dark loaf pan to bulk ferment. Dough is very tight. I think it probably needs more water but I also have no idea if that's what's wrong (or if anything is wrong). Maybe next time I'll use hot water and autolyze the flour first like in the “Honey Whole Wheat” bread on the “Most Bookmarked” front page section.

  10. 6pm: Loaf has a dry top. I slashed it 3 times with a  serrated kitchen knife and then wet the top with a wet hand. Oven was already on for 425F (was cooking potatoes). Put the pan in and turned the oven down to 325F (dark pan). Timer set for 40 minutes.

Here are the pictures of after I shaped it and before it went into the oven. I'll update with another picture when it's done.

 Update 1:

Thermometer read 186.3F and it looks okay. The sides looked a little cracked. I'll slice into it later when it's cooled off. Probably as a midnight snack after the kids go to bed.

Here's the crumb shot. It is good with honey and butter on top. Without it the bread has a weird aftertaste, almost like a hint of bitter. So maybe more sweetness is due.


Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

This weird bitter-ish taste appears to be quite common with bread with high % whole grain. That's why there is frequently some fat and/or sugar (or honey) added to these breads, should balance it out. You used some brown sugar and molasses, but they actually also have bitter notes... So I am not sure your decision to swap out the honey helped (I really doubt honey in this amount would inhibit yeast to any significant degree). But there is no guarantee it would work completely anyway without adding too much sweetness. The choice of flour is probably most important, and using heritage wheat, or ancient grains, should help the most.

Sugarowl's picture

Thanks. I knew about the bitterness of the wheat, but I was not aware of the molasses. I've only used molasses once or twice before in cookies.

Do you happen to know if lack of gluten development would lead to a delicate bread? it wasn't crumbly, just very bendy, if that's a good description. I had to slice it thicker than normal store bought sandwich bread for it to not start bending over. I'll probably try some amount of bread flour (80/20 or 60/40) since the kids didn't like the 100% whole wheat, even with honey smeared on top. I'll use the honey next time and maybe part evaporated milk like Floyd did in another bread bake (I have some evaporated milk I bought instead of sweetened condensed, oops).

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

It might depend on the type of molasses - just taste the ones you have. But the dark ones definitely have a very strong taste with a hint of bitterness too, so should be used sparingly. Maybe lighter ones don't have that.

Yeah, I imagine insufficient gluten could lead to that... Perhaps someone else will comment about that, don't think I've seen this in my bakes.

Sugarowl's picture

My molasses is "Grandma's" unsulphered molasses. It isn't sweet, but not bitter. It's definitely not black strap but it is dark. But next time I will use the honey.