Here’s my recipe for a great-tasting bread that I love to make. I normally use local honey to add a slight sweetness, but if I don’t have it on hand, I replace it with an equal weight of brown sugar. I provide different hydration ratios to reflect the types of breads you can make. The 90% is excellent for making pan loaves. I use the 85% for making boules and batards, and use the 75% for hard rolls and buns.
All numbers are in grams.
|Whole Wheat Flour*||1000||900||850||750||50||20||12||227|
*Use fine or extra-fine grind of whole wheat flour. I myself prefer to use white whole wheat flour.
**Gluten = Vital Wheat Gluten. This is optional, but really helps in gluten development and oven spring. You can usually find this at a grocery store. My local Lucky carries Bob’s Red Mill brand.
As I mentioned in my article on moving to whole wheat flour, things take longer and you have to do more when you use whole wheat flour. This mainly has to do with the slow moisture absorbance and thus slower gluten development. I also discovered that it’s better to do all the fermentation and proofing with a colder dough, so having room in your fridge is important – or in my case, I got a mini fridge to act as a retarder.
Mix flour, vital wheat gluten until well-incorporated. If using brown sugar, add it at this step. Add water and honey and mix into a shaggy dough then let rest for at least a half-hour.
After the dough has autolysed sprinkle salt and yeast evenly over the top of the dough, then mix thoroughly. Work the dough until smooth.
If you used a stand mixer to mix, transfer to a large bowl and let it rest for 30 minutes; otherwise, just let it rest.
Every half-hour for the next two hours, fold the dough. You may not have to do this many. After folding check the strength of the dough by doing the windowpane test to see if it has enough strength. In my warm kitchen, I only had to do three folds.
After your last fold, allow the dough to rise for at least a half hour or until it has expanded about 30% to 40% of its original size.
Cover your bowl with plastic wrap or transfer to a container and place it in your fridge. If you used plastic wrap, make sure air can escape.
“Day 2” can be the next day or up to a week out. The longer you let it sit, the more flavor will develop.
Remove the container from the fridge and allow it to warm to near room temperature (~2 hours).
Dump the dough onto your unfloured work surface, and using your bench scraper, pre-shape the dough into balls. Bench rest the dough for 30 minutes.
After bench resting, divide the dough and do your final shaping, either into a boule or batard. If I’m making loaf bread, I shape using the batard method.
If you do the full 1000 gram recipe, divide the dough into three or four. The three-quarter recipe can be made into two large loaves, and the half recipe is great for single, large loaf.
Once shaped, place in proofing baskets or well-greased pan loaf pans. If you don’t have proofing baskets, use a lightly-oiled bowl that’s dusted with flour.
Chill the dough for two hours in your fridge.
A hour before baking, heat your oven to 475o, making sure your baking stone or Dutch oven are also in the oven to warm up.
Remove proofed dough from containers and slash/score. No need to let it come to room temperature.
If using a Dutch oven, place dough in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, then bake for 10 more minutes or until crust is the desired color.
If using a baking stone and a metal pan for steam, place the loaf on the stone, and pour a cup of hot water into the pan. Remove the pan after 20 minutes, then continue baking for another 10 minutes or until the crust is the desired color.
Allow the bread to cool completely before cutting! I used to disregard this, but if you don’t allow it to cool, the interior will get gummy. Not good.