The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Choosing flour(s) for whole wheat bread's picture

Choosing flour(s) for whole wheat bread

Why do whole wheat bread recipes use both whole wheat bread and unbleached bread flour?  Since I want whole wheat as much as possible, can I just use 100% whole wheat flour?

mariana's picture

Of course, you can use 100%whole wheat. No problem.

However, bread flour is a dedicated bread flour, whereas whole wheat is just wheat, it does not guarantee "good bread": good yeasted bread, good soda bread, or good flat bread.

If it is sold as pastry wwf, all purpose wwf, or bread whole wheat flour, then 100% wwf  bread is easy. Otherwise you would have to discover its characteristics from experience.

trailrunner's picture

Bennie is extremely successful at using 100% whole wheat. He has excellent tutorials and formulas and pictures. He is wonderful at answering any questions you might have as to how to be successful with 100% ww.

clazar123's picture

I was on that journey a number of years ago and am happy with where I'm at.

I asked the same question and it is all in the wording. Technically, a loaf made with AP flour is 100% wheat-meaning the flour is wheat. Duh. But marketers have played with this wording over the years. "Made with 100% whole wheat flour" merely means the product contains SOME flour made with all the grain. I don't know if there is a labeling requirement before a loaf can be labelled "100% whole wheat".  People in the baking world are also guilty of this hard-to-understand naming of WW bread. I have looked at MANY beautiful loaf pics that are called WW only to find they are 30-50% whole wheat flour and the rest is AP or bread flour or vital wheat gluten.

Despair not. 100% WW made with ONLY WW flour is definitely do-able. It can even be a great,soft, shreddable sandwich loaf. Large holes are more difficult without the larger starch: protein ratio that AP provides.

Peter Reinhart's  "Whole Grain Breads" is a good book. HERE is a link for a Q&A he did with us on TFL about his then new book.

If you click on the "BOOKS" link above (In The Fresh Loaf banner) and then do a "Control" F search of the page for "Whole wheat", it is easier than scrolling down all the posts. Do NOT use the search box on top as that searches the whole site-unless that is what you want to do.

The WW craze got started in the 60's but I actually do not thing people knew how to work well with WW until more recently. All those WW bread recipes ended up very thick and chewy to become absolutely crumbly and usually with the tannic bitterness of WW. Not much flavor, otherwise. Unlike many, I am not a fan of "Fr.Juniper's Bread Book".

Take a look at my past posts-I went through a great learning curve here on TFL. IMO, a WW dough needs not only adequate hydration but enough time for all the bits and pieces to absorb it. Ignore all those comments about the sharp fiber cuts the gluten strands. It can be and  needs to be kneaded to windowpane in order to develop a proper crumb. Reinhart's WW made with biga (either natural levain or yeasted) works really well. HERE is the link for that. Copy the recipe because it has disappeared from several sites already over the years. This recipe is based on Reinhart's epoxy method.

Benito made that gorgeous Hokkaido 100%WW milk bread. Lovely!  Txfarmer is another TFL poster from the past that was magical with bread-even WW. Look up her iconic post on "windowpane" (I don't know if the pics are still with it") and on WW. She had a WW Hokkaido loaf, also.

WW has a learning curve unto itself but it is not impossible. Things like cutting a WW loaf (or any loaf)  with bread flour or vital wheat gluten are offering shortcuts to developing characteristics that WW flour already has.Most WW flours (for making bread-not the soft wheats) have plenty of protein and gluten. If the hydration is correct and the starchy gel is properly kneaded to windowpane, it makes a great loaf.  Using the supplements just makes it less labor intensive. Those supplements provide easy access/development of those starchy gels.

So a lot of key word/concepts to research: windowpane, autolyse, retard (cold and otherwise), sponge method, epoxy method, remix method, biga/preferment, tang zhong (a very interesting & easy way to get starch).

Have delicious fun!'s picture

Wow, how much you have learned by doing.  I'm impressed!  Can I achieve the "windowpane" thinness with an electric mixer with the dough attachment + 10 minutes of mixing?

Benito's picture

Ok here is the windowpane I achieved in my 100% whole wheat dough for my sourdough Hokkaido milk bread. This took about 20 minutes in my KA mixer with the crappy C hook.