42% whole wheat sourdough bread

 Next step in my own challenge with bread was to make a whole wheat bread following the same method of my successful previous bread. I started from that exact recipe and change the type of flour used. I also had to adapt hydration as the needs for whole wheat flour are different. I used a bread calculator website to adjust the quantities but the same can be done of course using a simple calculator. My point was to reach a bread at around 75% hydration while using an important amount of whole wheat flour. This flour has less gluten to expand, so the expectations in terms of gas captured inside the loaf should be lower, of course comparing to the white wheat or bread flour. 
When baking, it was more suitable to me to bake this bread in the fire wood oven rather than the conventional one as I had some other baking planned the same day. With this oven the challenges are even bigger as I didn't find yet a good way to make inside that steam that is so needed during the oven spring. Nevertheless, this bread, following the same method as my previous one proved to be excellent. With experience, I noticed also that due to the high heat of the floor of the wood fired oven, the bread has the tendency to open underneath rather than on top.  The flexibility of baking bread in this kind of oven is then limited due to the lack of control of some of the factors but on the other side, it comes with an advantage, and that is the aroma of smoke coming from the burnt wood. Also, it is much more economic as with one fire I easily can cook 2-3 dishes. As a conclusion, for the aspect, maybe this bread would have had a better oven spring in a conventional oven but I cannot complain either on the result I had in the wood fired oven.
I made this recipe twice, and the first time I was tricked by the initial look of the dough and I added 100g of water more. Also, I was tricked about the weather as the room temperature was much higher than usually that day due to a heat wave. Keeping the dough outside to ferment for 5-6 hours is enough for the first fermentation, so the shape needs to be done immediately. With my first bake, I made the shape the next day as it was in the previous bread recipe but for this last bake I made the shape after finishing the coil fold sessions. This reduced the time of bulk proofing with one day. Needless to say that the first trial of the whole wheat bread was over proofed. I made the correction and this bread was perfectly proofed. 
Another trick I learnt was that the bran from the whole wheat needs more time to hidrate than the flour itself. I then sifted the flour and hydrate the bran the day before. An extra step but it worth the effort when targeting more difficult breads.

Now lets see the recipe.

  • 600g bread flour (preferably organic)
  • 400g whole wheat organic flour
  • 740g water (divided in 200g + 540g)
  • 360g sourdough 100% hydration and fed with 50% bread flour and 50% whole wheat flour
  • 40g glutten powder (as I use bread flour with 10% protein, I need to fill in the gap by adding an extra boost with gluten powder. If you use bread flour with 14-15% protein you should not add extra gluten, but replace the 40g by bread flour)
  • 24g salt


Preparation of the sourdough quantity:
  1. [Day 1, Wednesday, 20:00] Take the sourdough out of the fridge and feed it in a new jar: 25g sourdough + 25g starter + 25g water. Keep the jar at the room temperature for 12 hours. Discard the remaining initial starter.
  2. [Day 2, Thursday, 8:00] Feed the starter in a new jar: 25g sourdough + 25g starter + 25g water. Keep the jar at the room temperature for 12 hours. Discard the remaining initial starter.
  3. [Day 2, Thursday, 20:00] Feed the starter in a new jar: 25g sourdough + 25g starter + 25g water. Keep the jar at the room temperature for 12 hours. Discard the remaining initial starter.
  4. [Day 3, Friday, 8:00] Feed the starter in a new jar: 25g sourdough + 25g starter + 25g water. Keep the jar at the room temperature for 12 hours. Discard the remaining initial starter.
  5. [Day 3, Friday, 20:00].  Take a big jar (1000g capacity) and add in it: 40g sourdough starter+40g water+40g flour). From the remaining initial starter do not forget to build your main starter. I keep 25g, feed it with 25g water and 25g flour that will go back to the fridge for future bakes. The rest is to discard (that should be 75g [initial starter] - 40g [levain] - 25g [future starter] = 10g). Keep the levain big jar at the room temperature for 12 hours. 
  6. [Day 4, Saturday, 8:00] In the big jar, that contains now 120g of starter, add 120g water and 120g of flour and mix. In the evening you'll have the desired 360g of levain needed for this recipe.

    The actual recipe starts just now:
  7. Immediately after preparing the 360g of levain, sift the whole wheat flour 2 times and save separately the bran. Pour 200ml boiling water over the bran and store it in a tight container over night a room temperature.
  8. [Day 4, Saturday, 14:30Mix bread flour, sifted whole wheat flour, moist bran, gluten powder and water. Sourdough and salt will be added later. Using a standing mixer or simply by hand, combine them until there is no dried flour left. If you use a standing mixer this should not take more than 2 minutes. By hand, is about 4-5 minutes. Cover the bowl with a lid, towel, shower cap, bag or whatever you can to avoid dryness on the top. Try the window test of dough and you'll see that it doesn't work. At this stage the dough is just a shaggy mess, the flour has not been hydrated and the gluten is not developed. Leave the dough to stay on the counter for 5 hours, for the phase that is called autolyse. During this time, the gluten will start developing by itself and the dough will change its structure. 
  9. [Day 4, Saturday, 19:30] Check the dough and try the window test. You'll see that the dough has a lot more elasticity and if you try the window test it will be much better. You are then ready to add the levain. Add it over the dough. If you use a mixer, mix slowly for 4 minutes until the levain is fully incorporated. If you work by hand, pour the levain over the dough and press with your fingers straight down forming a kind of a matrix. Press the dough and turn it for 4 minutes until the dough becomes homogeneous. Cover the bowl and let it si on the counter for 25 minutes.
  10. [Day 4, Saturday, 20:00] Incorporate the salt and mix it with the same techniques used in the above step. Mix or knead for 5 minutes. Cover the bowl and let it si on the counter for 25 minutes.
  11. [Day 4, Saturday, 20:30] Do some stretch and folds in the bowl. Cover it back and let it sit for 1 hour.
  12. [Day 4, Saturday, 21:30] Spray a bit of water on your board and also on your hands. Take the dough out on the board and divide it in 3. Now is the time for the lamination phase. The lamination requires to stretch the dough in a large square on the board, something like 40-50 cm large. This is not possible unless your gluten is well developed in the previous steps. The dough will stick slightly to the board to let you stretch it slowly until you reach these dimensions. Do not add flour otherwise the lamination won't work. However, the dough will not stick that hard to the board and it should be easy to be shaped. Avoid tearing your dough. If it tears, stop stretching it further from that side. With the dough that much stretched, let's imagine a squared piece of paper that we fold in 3 from both directions, obtaining 9 little squares. Take the dough, fold it 1/3, take it then from the other side and fold it over. You have now a long rectangle that you'll fold also in 3. You get now the dough folded in 9. Take the dough and put it back in the squared bowl with the joints down. This lamination provides a lot of strength to your dough, so do not skip it if you are looking for an open crumb bread. Let the dough rest for 25-30 minutes in the covered bowl.
    Then, put the dough preferably in squared ceramic or glass bowls of ~20cm large and at least 5cm high. Cover the bowls with a bag or a shower cap and let it sit for 25-30 min. You'll repeat this for each loaf.
  13. [Day 4, Saturday, 22:00] We start now a set of 3 coil folds performed straight in the bowl. Wet your hands again to avoid that the dough stick to your hands. The technique is the following: with your both hands take the dough from the left and right sides but from the middle on the other sides. Lift the dough until one of the up or down sides is detached. Hide this detached side under the dough. Turn the bowl 180º and lift again the dough to detach the other side and hide this side as well under. The dough looks now rolled under, on 2 sides. Turn the bowl 90º and repeat the same on the remaining sides. The dough will get a higher shape doing these coil folds. Cover the bowl and let it sit for another 25-30 minutes. Repeat the process for the other pieces of dough. Remember that the top of the dough is facing up, so avoid returning it in the bowl or destroying its nice top surface structure.
  14. [Day 4, Saturday, 22:30] Do a second set of coil folds. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
  15. [Day 4, Saturday, 23:00] Do a third set of coil folds. Let it sit for 60 minutes,
  16. [Day 4, Sunday, 00:00] It is time to shape.This time we'll need flour instead of water to avoid sticking. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the board and return the bowl with dough. The dough should get out in one piece leaving the bowl almost clean. The dough has now the face down. With floured hands stretch just a bit the dough in a square. Not too much like in the lamination phase, but something like 20-25cm. Fold it also in 3 from 2 sides but on the other side do not fold it but roll it. Join the sides where the you see the rolls of the dough to avoid unfolding. The place where the transversal joints of the dough are visible is the bottom of the dough. Place the dough face down into a well floured banneton. Repeat the proces for the remaining pieces of dough. Put the bannetons in plastic bags or covered with a shower cap and place them in the fridge for 14-20 hours.
  17. [Day 5, Sunday, 16:00] Turn on the fire in an wood fire oven. Of course you can do bake in a conventional oven, just preaheat it for one hour at its maximum temperature. When the fire is over the oven is heated. My oven gets to 500-600ºC when the fire is gone and this is way to high to bake bread. You either wait until the oven cool until maximum 300ºC or bake some pizza inside and use the heating. I usually bake 2 sets of pizza and after I have the oven at the right temperature to bake the loaves.  
  18. [Day 5, Sunday, 17:00] When your oven is ready for bake, take the dough out from the fridge, sprinkle some semolina on top of the bread to avoid sticking. Place a pizza paddle on top of the banneton and return. Remove gently the banneton and let's score the bread. Using a razor lame make an incision of 1-2cm deep along the bread. Play with superficial cuts on the surface of the dough if you like. Slide the loaf straight on the bottom of the oven. Repeat the same with the remaining loaves. Put the loaves in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Check that the loaves are raised and the cooking is happening evenly. If necessary turn the breads to be cooked on all sides. Let them continue their baking but check every 5-10 minutes. This really depends on the oven and the temperature you have inside. Mine it took 30 minutes in total. Check the bottom of the bread to be harden and is ready when it allows you to knock on the bottom.
  19.  [Day 6, Sunday, 17:30] Here you have your beautiful open crumb bread. Place it on a wire rack and resist the temptation to cut it while still warm as the bread is continuing to cook and the flavors are still developing . One hour after cooling should be ok for you to cut it and enjoy an amazing healthy and tasty slice.


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