Week 96: 100% Whole Wheat Boule

It’s a challenge to make 100% whole-grain bread. Whole wheat and rye flours do not have the same gluten content as white (all purpose or bread) flour, so the doughs don’t tend to rise as high, resulting in a heavy, dense loaf. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but isn’t always what I’m looking for. I found a method for making a 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf (Week 21: 100% Whole Wheat) that’s soft and squishy, but it requires a lot of kneading.

I found hundreds of recipes for 100% whole wheat, no-knead bread, and they are identical but for one thing. They all call for the same amount of flour, water and salt, but that’s where the similarities ended: the yeast measurements range from 1/4 teaspoon all the way up to 2.

I started with the one that had the most yeast (2 teaspoons), hoping that would make for a nice rise. Turns ot the amount of yeast doesn’t really effect how high the dough rises so much as it effects how long it takes for the dough to rise. The bread was ready in a day, had a nice rise, but not a lot of flavor. Next, I tried a version with just a 1/4 tsp yeast, and extended the rise time from overnight to 4 days: 12 hours at room temperature, then 2~3 days in the fridge. The rise was acheived, and the bread was more complex.

The takeaway? If a recipe calls for an overnight rise, and more than 1/2 tsp of yeast, don’t make it. If you use too much yeast, the protiens can’t keep up during the long rise time and it looses the bubbles and ability to rise.


  • 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups water + 1/4 cup orange juice, at 95 degrees
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter
  • 480g whole wheat flour (bolt it, then save to dust on top of bread before scoring)

Day 1 Saturday

  1. Measure yeast, brown sugar, water/orange juice into a large bowl. Stir to combine.
  2. Add melted butter and stir.
  3. Add flour, then mix with the handle of a wooden spoon until it is all incorporated.
  4. Clean off the the sides of the bowl with a bowl scraper, and then mix the dough by scopping a side from the bottom and lifting it up over the top. Rotate around the bowl until it’s well mixed and dough is becoming a little smoother.
  5. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight for 12 hours.

Day 2 Sunday

  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  1. Next day, sprinkle the salt over the top of the dough.
  2. Push the salt into the dough with wet fingertips, then put your fingers under a portion of the dough, lift it, then fold it over the top. Go around the bowl so that the salt is in now fully covered with the dough.
  3. Squeeze dough with your fingers and thumb to finish mixing in the salt, until you no longer feel any granuals, or for about 30 seconds.
  4. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.
  1. You’re now going to do a series of “bowl folds” and resting periods. Write down the start time of this process, and each time you do a bowl fold so that you don’t lose track. (View the Stretch and Fold video under the heading “Kneading During Proofing” on the Video page for a visual.)
    • With wet fingertips, separate a side portion of dough away from the bowl.
    • Holding it with fingers and thumb, lift and stretch it up a few inches, then fold it over to the opposite side.
    • Go all around the bowl until you get to where you started. By the end of a round it shold be a little tighter, and harder to stretch as much.
    • With both hands, use fingers to lift entire dough up and flip over.
    • Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
    • Repeat this for a total of 4 bowl folds and 4 stretch and folds, 2 hours rest time total.
  1. Now it’s time for one envelope fold.
    1. Remove dough from bowl onto a lightly oiled surface.
    2. Press into a rectangle
    3. Fold right side over, halfway, then the left side over that.
    4. Fold the top down, then the bottom up over that.
    5. Return to bowl, seam side down.
  2. Cover and let rest for 2~3 days, this time in the fridge.

Last Day

  1. Remove dough from fridge, and use your bowl scraper to gently scrape the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured countertop,
  2. Pick up a side and pull it over to the middle. Continue all the way around. You’ve now got a circle of dough with flour on both sides, and no flour in the middle.
  1. Turn over and shape into a ball, tightening the top as you go, on an unfloured surface. See “High-hydration Boule and Batard” instructions on the Video page.
  2. Place in proofing basket lined with a floured cloth, smooth side down.
  3. Cover and let rest for about 1-2 hours, until it is room temperature and has risen a bit.
  4. Cut a sling out of parchment paper (see photo below) to fit the container.
  5. Place aheavy-duty oven-proof pot with lid inside the oven and preheat to 475 degrees.
  6. Remove pot from over, lift dough inside, cover and bake at 450 (turn temperatre down) for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove lid and bake at 400 (turn temperature down) for 25-30 minutes.
Parchment paper bread sling

Delayed Salt Method: Delayed salt allows natural, or biological, development of a part of the amino acids in gluten, called cystein, to occur, which can’t happen in the presence of salt. It’s a very simple way to improve your breadmaking, no matter how you choose to make bread. It’s particularly useful when making bread by hand, but is also commonly used when a mixer is employed.


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