Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hand-Bolted 100% Whole Wheat Loaves

100% Whole Wheat loaf, 90% Hydration
Hand-Bolted through #30, #50 screens

So, you know how you try to do the right thing, yeah, and make 100% whole grain loaves that 1) you have to pretend to love, yes indeed, every dry, hard nibble 2) make you silently cry inside, oi, just the thought of having to abandon the pillowy loaves that you are used to making, the ones that elevate you to superstar status in all of your friendsy circles 3) could double as doorstop, or a weapon of mass destruction.

Hey listen. I get it. I have made a few boulders in my day. I have had success with a handful of loaves (all 100% whole grain loaves are on my blog, somewhere...) but frankly, I've been far too lazy to develop more than the few that I've shared with you. I've specifically had trouble with whole wheat, which is divine when in rendezvous with white flour, but on its own, it can be pretty gnarly. The oven spring is non existent. The texture is usually like some industrial agent to insulate prison walls, and the flavor, well, who cares about the flavor if you're losing teeth while eating it (and p.s., all the love and good intentions in the world will not help anyone get past a thing that could end in a visit to the dentist).

Which brings me to our post. This is actually one of the posts that made me want to come back to the page moons ago. I wanted to do this experiment making loaves with 100% home-milled, hand-bolted flour, and man alive! Did I hit the jackpot!

As you can see, the oven spring is pretty wicked for 100% whole grain, the texture was beautiful, and the flavor was so good. Fantastic plain, great with cheese, toasted with olive oil (butter for the hedonists) and jam....

100% Whole Wheat loaf, 90% Hydration
Hand-Bolted through #30, #50 and #65 screens

I did two experiments here. Both with the same ingredients, same fermentation times, same hydration. The only difference is in the bolting. For the first loaf, I sent the flour through a #30 screen then a #50, the second loaf was sent through a #30, then a #50, then a #65, so, successively finer screens. (You can get the screens here; don't forget to also get the frame). The differences were interesting. The one that was bolted through the #30 and #50 was more sour (which I love, actually), and the texture was closer, more uniform, but was by no means dense or 'closed'. The one that I sent through the #30, #50, and finally a #65 had a more open texture, and it was more mild in flavor (not as sour).

 100% Whole Wheat loaf, 90% Hydration
Hand-Bolted through #30, #50 screens

100% Whole Wheat loaf, 90% Hydration
Hand-Bolted through #30, #50 and #65 screens

Both were soft and lovely, even though the #30/#50 was tighter, and both achieved fantastic oven spring, as you can see. The loaf whose flour only went through two screens achieved a little higher spring, as you can see. I have done 100% whole wheat loaves in the past, but I added vital wheat gluten to the dough, which is sort of gross, IMHO, I don't trust it, and it feels like a cheater's way of making bread. Plus it can add an odd taste to your bread if too much is used.

Of course, I am lucky enough to own a Komo mill. I've never experimented with pre-milled flour, so, I don't know what the results would be, but I'm curious to find out. The loaves both weigh in at 90% hydration, and had a final fermentation of 19 hours

My beloved Komo

It was clear upon mixing up the dough that high hydration was necessary. 100% whole wheat sucks up a lot of h2o. The dough was pleasantly extensible but not slack. I increased the hydration because the feel of the dough with moderate initial hydration (79%) was like rubber, so I squished in enough water until it 'felt right' (weighing as I went, so I could pass the right measure on to you). The bulk fermentation was a little slow to start, only efflorescing in the final hour and a half or so. I was concerned at first, but then I figured that all of those little shards of wheat cutting at the gluten strands probably keep it from puffing up quickly. Once it was refrigerated for its long final fermentation, it increased steadily and by the next day, they were properly risen doughs. The final thing to note is that they bake much more quickly than those loaves made with white flour. I started out at 500 degrees as I usually do, then brought it down to 475 after 15 minutes of steam, then when the lid came off, after a short period of time, I saw that it was browning quickly, so reduced the heat to around 465. So, you will have to toggle, and err on the side of lower heat, I think. They finished in a nail-biting hour, meaning, I wanted to keep them in at least that long to appease my sensibility, but they were looking like they could have come out at least 10 full minutes before the hour came to its close. I may have even gone down to 450 for the last 10 for good measure, but don't quote me on that. Point being, my 'other weekly loaves' usually go for around an hour 10 minutes, starting at 500, then a solid 475 till the finish. So, make sure you don't take your eyes off of the bake.

So, before every lid comes off at steam, I say to myself, as sort of a good luck utterance 'drum roll please', always have, and probably always will because every time I've said it, I've never once pulled the lid off to a shite loaf. Gotta be something to the mantra, so I won't mess with it. This time more than a little nail-biting went on, and I think I might thrown in a quick hail Mary for good measure. Et voila! When the lids came off... HEAVEN! Like little golden pillows they were, and I knew the rest was a sure thing. The crust was shattery and wonderful, not at all tough or hard. And the next day when cutting the bread, it was soft and lovely and I ate a slice of it every time I walked into the kitchen. It's the sort of bread that's good for you but tastes really amazing, so you don't have to grimace with every healthy bite.

Onto bolting.

It takes a long time, a lot of muscle, and a wide open pocket book: you are looking at about, 30-40% of resulting bolted flour from the total milled. I'm sorry, I didn't weigh the berries/flour before and after, but I winced a little when I realized the yield. It's okay though, the resulting breads were enormously worth it, and I will weaken an arm any day to bolt flour to bake more of this bread. Start with a wider mesh, like a #30, to remove the largest bits, then move onto a #50 to refine the flour, removing more bran. You can stop here or choose to go onto a #65 which will remove a lot more bran, but it will also remove more endosperm, thus making for a lesser yield. I have, listen up, milled my grain and put it through a #30, then remilled the remaining flour, sending this remilled grain through a tighter screen. This will increase your yield wholly, but you will be getting more endosperm and more germ. It yields a flour so fine that if you were to close your eyes and run your hands through a mass of it, you wouldn't feel a thing.

This is what I did for my Pane Siciliano, milling both 2 and 3x. Man alive! Remilling makes fantastic flour! It does, however, heat your flour as many times as you mill it, so if this is a concern for you keep that in mind. It also clogs your mill, so you have to brush it out after you are done milling or it will go rancid in there, or solidify and later come out in horrible hard sheets that look like whole fingernails. It's pretty horrifying, and it will ruin whatever batch of flour you are milling at that point. If you do decide to remill your flour a second go round, you will have to stir the flour over the hole for the whole milling time or it won't feed into the grinder. Oh, if you don't own a mill, you should know that the flour output is admittedly hot. One way to offset this is to keep your grains in the freezer like I do. Your flour will still be warm, but not nearly as if not frozen first. You could also hand mill, but this is how I feel about that: 😳

Speaking of flour/grains, I used Great River Organic hard red spring wheat for this project (I've never been able to tell the difference between spring and winter wheat, though admittedly, I've never had them side-by-side). I have had great luck with their buckwheat (they carry whole buckwheat, fyi, rare these days, since it's usually winnowed before being packaged up and sold to you), and wanted to try their wheat. Wow. The flavor  is beautifully floral. I have tried a lot of different wheat berries, but theirs is my favorite to date. Just lovely. I got an enormous bag of it (Amazon, yo! I've added a link to the grains just below the comment section of the post☟), necessary since the yield in flour bolting is so very low.

OK, so, to bolt the flour, you literally mill your grain, cool it, then send it through a succession of screens. Fit your drum with a screen and whisk your hand back and forth over the milled grain, quickly. Press the grain as you do this (use a lighter hand when starting with the #30), essentially, rub the flour through the screen until no flour falls from the other side of the drum. It takes some time. I think it took the better part of an hour to do the lot for these two loaves.

A #30 screen will remove the biggest bits. Send the resulting flour through a #50 and you will arrive at a wonderful, useable flour, as seen in the photos above. If you are an over achiever and have more stamina, send the #50 bolted flour through a very fine #65 and you will arrive at a lovely, soft flour that yields a heavenly crust and crumb.

On that note, I'm gonna run. All this talk about bread makes me ready for a slice. Let me know if or when you decide to try these breads, and by all means, contact me if you have any questions before you give it a go. I'm here for you, and check my email often.

To the staff of life!

Hand-Bolted, 100% Whole Wheat, 90% hydration 

For the levain, you will need

75g freshly milled whole wheat flour
75g h2o
12g 100% hydration, 100% rye starter

Mix together your levain ingredients and ferment. Mine fermented for 8 hours.

For the dough, you will need

All of the levain
453g h2o
500g hand-bolted whole wheat flour*
   (*either send through #30 and #50 screens successively for a tighter crumb, OR #30,
     #50 and #65 screens successively for a more open crumb)
10g kosher salt, I used Diamond

When your levain is properly fermented, dissolve it in the water and mix it together with the flour and the h2o until you reach a shaggy mass. This will take some muscle and it may feel a little tough/rubbery (hence the need for more water), but don't fret. It will relax in autolyse, and you can always add more water during salt if you need to.

Autolyse for 1 hour 30 minutes. After the autolyse, squish the salt into the dough until it's fully incorporated work the dough into a smooth mass. Now it's time for the 3 1/2 hour bulk fermentation. Here you will perform a series of turns every half-hour for the first hour and a half taking care not to deflate the dough. Leave it be for the final 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a workspace dusted with some freshly milled brown rice flour. Shape into a loose round. Let it rest on the bench for 10 minutes.

After the bench, shape the dough into a taut boule and pop into a banneton or a bowl lined with linen that you have dusted with brown rice flour, or, if you prefer, some leftover chaff from bolting your flour.

Pop in the fridge and ferment for 19 hours.


Preheat the oven to 500 with a dutch oven and baking stone inside.

Unearth the dough by placing a sheet of parchment over the mouth of the dough bowl, then place a peel over this and quickly invert the bowl so that the dough ends up sitting on the paper and the peel, seam side down.

Snip the thing in some divine manner. A note, with very highly hydrated loaves or slack dough loaves, I find it best to snip vs. slashing the dough to prevent bleeding. These, however, I scored with a razor blade with great success.

Slide it into the shallow half of the hot dutchie. Cover with the fat half, slide it into the oven, and steam for 15 minutes at this temp, then turn the oven down to 475 and steam for another 15 minutes.

After the steam, remove the fat end of the dutchie, then stack the pan over its mouth to create a buffer between the hot stone and the bread. This will help keep the bottom of your bread from blackening.

Toggle the oven between 460 and 475 until the boule is baked to desired darkness. I baked mine to an internal temp of 210 degrees.

Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.


(and some other breads I made this weekend for friends...)