This is an optimised bread recipe from Peter Reinhardts “Whole grain Breads” book. This is a great bread baking book, and hands down the best book available that is dedicated to whole grain breads. The first time I made this wholewheat hearth bread I was unsatisfied with the shape and rise of the bread but very excited about the flavour of this bread. Its really nicely balanced, in that it has a rich whole-grainey flavour complimented perfectly by the mild honey and there is no hint of rawness. The bread has a soft, slightly moist, crumb with a close texture typical of whole wheat bread but it is not at all crumbly.
Since this hearth bread is baked directly on a baking stone the original recipe produced a dough that was just too slack and instead of rising up in the oven the loaf spread out, resulting in a delicious but flatish round loaf that does not really make for good slices (see pictures). I then went on and tweaked the recipe by making incremental decreases in the hydration of the pre-dough (biga) as well as the final dough until I hit the “sweetspot”. By “sweetspot” I mean the point where the loaf can hold its own shape in the oven, rise up nicely but is also moist enough to maintain a soft interior texture. As described the original recipe makes a bread at 70.5% hydration. I experimented with the Biga and the final dough and altered the hydration to produce 73%, 70.5%, 69%, 65% and 62% hydrated loaves. I tested each differently hydrated dough as a traditional round boule or as small baguette breads. The wettest doughs (73%, 70.5% and 69%) were too slack to form a nice boule or baguettes and the 62% was too dry for a soft crumb, so the optimal I found was the 65%. This recipe as described below, can be reliably used to make round boules, longish oval loaves aswell as baguettes or batons.
All in all a delicious tasting healthy wholegrain bread optimised to produce robust, nicely risen loaves with a soft and moist texture.
Total time required; approx 15 hours (12h pre-ferment, 10 min knead, 1h first rise, 2min shaping, 45min second rise, 30-45 min baking)
Hands on time; 20 min.
- For the Biga
- 227g wholewheat flour
- 1g instant dried yeast
- 170g water
- For the soaker
- 227g whole wheat flour
- 4g salt
- 170g water
- For the final dough
- all of the biga
- all of the soaker
- 80g wholewheat flour
- 5g salt
- 7g instant dried yeast
- 15g honey
- Combine the ingredients for the biga, mix well, cover and leave for 12 hours (or overnight) at room temperature
- In a seperate bowl, combine the flour, water and salt for the soaker, cover and leave also at room temperature for 12 hours
- The next day, chop the biga and soaker into approx 8 chunks and place into a large bowl. add the remaining ingredients for the final dough and use your hands to combine everything to a dough.
- Knead for 10 minutes, either by hand or with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.
- Finish the kneading with some stretches and folds.
- Form into a tight ball, place into an oiled bowl or plastic container, cover and let rise for 1 hour.
- Turn out he risen dough, shape into either a large boule or oval and place in a prooving basket. Alternatively divide the dough and make 2 large baguettes or 4-5 smaller batons.
- Cover loosely with a tea towel and allow to re-rise for 35-45 minutes. Pre-heat your oven, and baking stone if using, to 250 degrees C. Place a roasting tray onto the oven floor.
- Using a bakers peel, carefully transfer teh risen loaf onto the pre-heated baking stone, puor a cup of cold water into the heated roasting tray to create steam and bake for 30 minutes fr baguetttes of 45 minutes for the larger boule loaves.