Recipe: Buttertop Whole Wheat Pan Bread

Okay, it’s not 100% whole wheat which is why I didn’t put 100% whole wheat in the title. But it’s damn close. This uses my favorite flour combination of 25% White Whole Wheat / 75% High-Extraction Flour, both milled using the Unifine process. The high-extraction flour is like a Type 85 flour that retains at least 85% of the bran and germ of the wheat berry when milled, though this particular flour is more like Type 90. What this means is that it is very close to whole wheat but it’s SO much smoother.

This recipe uses an overnight poolish. But unlike other recipes I’ve developed, where the poolish only accounts for about 20-25% of the total flour, this recipe uses a poolish that accounts for 50% of the total flour. The reason for this is because all the whole wheat flour goes into the poolish and soaking it overnight ensures that the bran and germ are fully hydrated. Here we go!

The Night Before ~ Make the Poolish

250 g High-Extraction Flour
250 g Whole Wheat
500 g0.5 g
1. If you don’t have any high-extraction flour, I advise using whole wheat bread flour. It’s milled finer than regular whole wheat flour.
2. Mix everything together until you form a thick, but smooth batter with no dry flour left over, and no lumps (this is important).

Baking Day – Make the Final Dough

FlourWhole Milk or Half N HalfSaltYeastButter
500 g High-Extraction Flour200 g20 g12 g1 tbl
(softened, not melted)
  1. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together with a whisk.
  2. Use the milk to loosen up the poolish by slowly pouring it around the edges of the poolish, then use a scraper or spatula to tease it away from the sides. Then moving about the container, pull the spatula towards the center (like you would making an omelet), scraping the bottom of the container. The poolish should now just pour out and into your mixing bowl.
  3. Once your poolish is transferred, make sure to get as much of the residual material out of the poolish container, then incorporate the milk into the poolish until it’s fully dissolved.
  4. Working in batches, add the dry ingredient mix to the poolish. Once you’ve added a cup or so, drop the softened butter into the mix, then continue mixing until all the ingredients are incorporated and you’ve created a shaggy dough.
    1. You can also do this in a stand mixer, which is my preferred method of mixing ingredients.
  5. Dump out the dough onto an unfloured work surface, and knead it until smooth (about 8 minutes). Again, you can do this in a stand mixer as well (about 3-4 minutes).
  6. Transfer the dough back to your mixing bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  7. After 30 minutes, do a stretch and fold of the dough, then turn it over onto the folds.
  8. Rest the dough another 30 minutes and do a final stretch and fold.
  9. Rest the dough from 1-2 hours until it has risen about 50%
    1. This is the tricky part. I just made my loaves early this morning, around 6 am, and my kitchen was a bit cold, so even though I proofed in my oven with the door slightly ajar so that the oven light provides a little heat, it took a little over 2 hours to rise.
  10. After the bulk ferment, dump out the dough and divide and scale it into 2 equal pieces.
  11. Pre-shape the dough into balls, either using the stretch and fold technique, or the scraper technique. Set the balls aside, sprinkle a little flour on top of them, and let rest for 20 minutes.
  12. Preheat your oven to 485° F (about 250° C)
  13. Take a ball, flip it over onto the floured side onto a lightly floured surface.
  14. Using your fingers, gently form press out the ball into an 8″ X 12″ rectangle (it doesn’t have to be perfect).
  15. Roll the sheet up by folding from the top and gently pressing out, much like you’d shape a batard. What we’re trying to do here is really get the skin taut.
  16. Seal the seam, then place it into a well-oiled loaf pan.
  17. Repeat steps 12 through 15 for the second loaf.
  18. Cover the loaves with a floured cloth and let them go through their final proof for at least an hour.
    1. Mine took about an hour and a half this morning until they passed the finger dent test.
  19. Once proofed, score the top of each loaf with one long slash, then place the pans gently in the oven and apply steam.
    1. For steam, I use an old metal cake round that I put about a cup of scalding water, and I throw a few ice cubes on the bottom of my oven.
  20. Set the timer for 15 minutes and once it goes off, turn the loaf pans around to ensure even baking and remove your steaming container.
  21. Bake 10 more minutes, then remove from the oven.
  22. Melt about a 1/2 stick of butter, then slowly pour it into the cracks of the loaves.
    1. Some butter may run off the sides, so I suggest placing a plate under the loaves to catch the spilled butter, then use a paper towel to soak up the excess and wipe it on the top surface of each loaf.
  23. Let the loaves cool at least 45 minutes before cutting (if you can last that long).

Notice I don’t have any added sugar in this recipe. It doesn’t need it. The use of butter and milk provide fat which helps soften the bread.


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