So before you continue reading, let me warn you that this is not a 2 hour recipe. This is a 2 day, 3 step recipe. Still with me? Good. Before I scare you away further, let me add that none of the steps are complicated or require any fancy equipment (except maybe a mixer to knead). Trust me, your time and effort will be greatly rewarded. This recipe produces a tender, soft loaf with a light and crispy crust. The flavor of the bread is incredible, there is no “bad”, slightly bitter whole wheat flavor to be found, nor is there buckets of honey and sugar trying to mask it. This is by far the best whole wheat recipe I’ve ever created, and I’m so excited it to share it with you.
Sadly this is not a 100% whole wheat bread, but with 60% it definitely counts as a nutritious loaf. Since working in a few bakeries I have sadly noticed that most “whole wheat” loaves are mostly white bread with about 10%-20% whole wheat flour purely for taste, one place even added cocoa to make the loaf look darker and therefore customers would assume it to be “healthier”.
Ingredients for Day 1: Yields 3 loaves
100 g White Bread Flour
75 g Whole Wheat Flour
140 g Cold Water
2 g Instant Yeast
Ingredients for Day 2:
450 g Whole Wheat Flour (I used all purpose)
450 g HOT Tap Water
250 g White Bread Flour
24 g Salt
10 g Sugar
4 g Yeast
Optional- Fresh parsley for garnish
Mix all ingredients in a big bowl. It’s cool if its a little lumpy – no kneading necessary! This is your “poolish”, cover the bowl and leave out at room temperature until tomorrow. Your poolish will add excellent depth of flavor and chewiness to the final bread. Day one is over! Pat yourself on the back for planning ahead, and continue on with your day.
Mix whole wheat flour with your very hot water. This is called a “mash”. By soaking the whole wheat grains, they become softer, more digestible and sweeter. Now let your mash sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to 2 hours, whatever fits your schedule better.
Now it’s kneading time. Combine your poolish from day one, your mash from day two, and the remaining ingredients into your mixing bowl. Knead on low speed for 3 minutes and then on medium speed for 7. The dough should be smooth yet fairly slack/loose/wet (Choose whichever adjective best suits your mood). It will form a dough ball while the mixer is on, but will quickly droop to the bottom of the bowl when off. I had to use a spatula to transfer the dough. I like to let my dough rise in a plastic tupperware because then I can see its progress. But any sprayed bowl will do. Let rise until it has almost doubled in bulk. I’m estimating here at 2 hours. Now perform 2 gentle folds in the bowl/tupperware. I like to grab one side of dough with wet hands and lift it 1/2 way out of its container and gently fold it over itself, rotate 90 degrees and repeat. Let the dough rest for another 30 minutes.
Now it is time shape the dough as you please, either directly onto your baking sheet or into a well-floured banneton. I did both, and I found my bread had more rise when shaped directly onto the baking sheet, but looked very pretty with the spiral pattern on the banneton. Let the dough rise once more for about 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 400F when your dough starts to look ready. If you would like to add some parsley garnish, simply cut of the stems, run leaves under cold water and stick onto bread. Make sure to then generously sprinkle flour over the parsley leaves or they will burn. I used a pastry brush to take off extra flour once it had cooled. Bake for about 20 minutes until the crust is hard and golden brown. When I placed my baking sheets in the oven I also threw 1/2 cup of water onto the elements to create some steam, more rise and a crisper crust.
Eat, freeze or share! Let’s review what makes this bread great:
Poolish- adds a slightly sour flavor, and lends to a chewier crumb.
Mash- hydrates the whole wheat flour so that the final product is naturally sweeter and softer.
Sugar- cuts any left-over bitter flavor.
Small amounts of yeast- also helps with flavor and lends to a more open crumb.