Week 21: 100% Whole Wheat

This is an uncomplicated, straight-forward loaf. I was aiming for the simplest, shortest method, with the most basic ingredients (no dairy/eggs) without sacrificing taste and texture. And this is it! A soft, chewy, absolutely delicious loaf. It’s a perfect for “working from home” loaf because the short steps are worked hours apart.

This is adapted from Stella Parks’ post on Serious Eats. She uses a heavy-duty, large capacity food processor which I don’t own. Below are instructions for how to use a stand mixer instead, plus a few little changes to the method as well.

Step 1 | Prepare the autolyse and let rest 2-1/2 hours

  • 425 grams whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional)
  • 320 grams cool water (not lukewarm)
  1. Measure the flour and water in the bowl of a stand mixer
  2. Mix to combine with the stick end of a wooden spoon. You’re not kneading (yet!), just making sure there’s no bits of dry flour.
  3. With your hand, use the dough to scrape any flour off the sides, press it against the sides and squeeze it a bit, so you’ve got a rough ball (not a “shaggy” dough)
  4. Cover and let rest for 2-1/2 hours

Step 2 | Add ingredients and knead. Be careful to not over-knead this dough. Wheat flour contains flakes of bran which can cut the dough like knives, and therefore it won’t stretch to rise, it’ll just break.

  • 7 grams instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 55 grams water
  • 28 grams canola oil (or some other neutral oil)
  • 11 grams salt
  1. Mix the yeast, sugar and water together.
  2. Add the liquids to the autolyse and mix on low speed with the paddle until well combined, scrapping sides when necessary.
  3. Add salt and continue mixing for about 4 minutes.
  4. Switch to dough hook, and knead for 4 ~ 6 minutes, on medium speed . Stop clock every 2 minutes to scrape dough off the hook, then resume kneading on medium speed.
  5. Dough is ready when you can pull a portion up without the strand breaking, and it passes the windowpane test. Never heard of that? Here’s a great explanation from my favorite instructional videos, the Bake with Jack series. (Because it’s such a wet dough, it won’t come away from the sides. That’s okay.)

Step 3 | Second Rise: 1 ~ 2 hours

  1. Place in lightly oiled container, cover and let rise until doubled. Room temperature should be about 75 – 78 degrees. I use the microwave — turning it on for 30 seconds – EMPTY – to heat it up, then storing the dough for proofing.

Be patient! This can take up to 2 hours, but can vary – keep checking it to make sure it doesn’t over-rise. These photos were take the start, 1 hour later, 1-1/2 hours later, then 2 hours. Ready!

Step 4 | Shape Loaf

  • Lightly dust counter-top with whole wheat flour
  • Lightly punch the dough down to remove the air.
  • Carefully remove dough all at once from bowl onto counter top, scrapping from the bottom. Don’t have it slowly come out in a long, stringy way.
  • Dust top very lightly with flour, then gently pat the dough into a 7″ square, getting some of the air out
  • Roll/fold, using the “head and shoulders” method, into a tight roll, then place into loaf pan, seam side down


Step 4 | Third Rise: 60 ~ 75 minutes

  1. Cover loosely with a tea towel, plastic wrap for the last rise. This can take anywhere from 45 – 90 minutes, and it should be about 1 to 1-1/2 inches above the rim of the pan. Check frequently so it does not over-proof. Here’s another video from Jack on how to know if your dough is done rising.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 while you wait.

Step 5 | Bake!

  1. Bake for about 45 minutes in the lower 3rd of a 350 oven.
  2. Internal temperature should be 200 degrees.
  3. Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.
  4. Do not cut until it’s completely cool! Here’s why.

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