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The Quest for the Holy 100% Whole Wheat Loaf

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“After fumbling around trying to make a 100% Whole Wheat Loaf that didn't taste like cardboard or resemble a dense brick I had my eureka moment when I combined my own versions of two recipes with relatively short ingredient lists. I have a more thorough documentation of the process with some editorial content on my blog Look for the same title under "Recipes"”
3 loaves

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. (STARTER 24-48 hours ahead of time) Dissolve 1/4 tsp yeast with the 1/2 cup of warm water.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt.
  3. Add 3 more cups warm water, and stir until blended; dough will be almost runny, I'd say a bowl of mush.
  4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 24 hours, preferably about 48, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  5. (DAY OF DOUGH after starter has fermented) Scald milk and cool to lukewarm (use an ice bath in a big pot).
  6. Stir in honey while cooling milk (start this right after you place pan of milk in ice bath so honey will dissolve better in the warmth).
  7. Dissolve 2tsp yeast in 1/2 cup warm water.
  8. Measure flour and salt into a large bowl and stir together lightly.
  9. When milk is cooled down to same temperature as warm water mix the two liquids together. Make a well in the flour and pour liquids into it. Stir from center outward, until all the flour is mixed in, making a stiff dough.
  10. *Here's where things get interesting* Add the 48 hour preferment to the new dough and knead for about 15 minutes without adding more flour. (The dough is going to be very wet and sticky so keep a bowl of water handy for your hands, and I even used it to keep the dough from sticking too bad to the counter I was working on).
  11. After 15 minutes knead in the butter in bits, continuing to work the dough until it is silky.
  12. I put the dough glob into an ungreased bowl (the larger the better this makes 3 loaves) and covered with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 1.5 hours, but be careful, my bowl was a little too small and the runny dough started to expand over the sides.
  13. After 1.5 hours I gently punched it down and took a shortcut by skipping a second rise and went ahead and split the dough into three pieces and plopped them into my pans. (I found by accident it didn't make much of a difference if these were greased or not, 2 were, 1 was not).
  14. I proofed these for another hour but probably could have gone with 45 minutes because one loaf began to pour over the sides of the pan. I gently nudged the doughs back within the sides of their pans and put them into a preheated 325 degree oven for 1 hour.
  15. These turned out wonderful, high rise, flavor like I have never tasted, a well structured crumb (at least according to my likes), and a decent caramelized crust. I think that skipping the second rise made the open air pockets in the bread a little bigger than they would have been otherwise, but they were still rather uniform and didn't affect the breads ability to hold together, but I think next time it would be worth investing the extra time in a second rise before proofing in the pans.

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