It’s said that if you’re going to steal, you might as well steal from the best. So I did. This is recipe is from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads, a book that every serious or aspiring bread baker should own (along with all his other books). I’ll be making the 100% whole wheat version of the recipe, though I generally favor a 50-50 mix of whole wheat and white flour. If you want to go that route, simply made the starter with white bread flour instead of whole wheat flour. You’ll end up adding a little more flour to the final dough to get the right consistency, but otherwise the recipe will perform the same.
Note that you’ll be making two “pre-doughs” on the day before you make and bake your bread, one of which you’ll store at room temperature and one you’ll store in the fridge. (Don’t mix them up.)
ON DAY 1:
Make the Soaker
8 ounces whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 ounces milk
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until moistened. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight.
Make the Starter
8 ounces whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
6 ounces water (preferably bottled)
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until a ball forms. Knead the ball by hand for about two minutes until all the ingredients are moistened. Rest the dough for five minutes and knead again for about a minute. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate over night.
ON DAY 2
Make the Dough
Remove the starter from the refrigerator two hours before you plan on making the dough to take the chill off. Then combine:
the starter (torn into pieces)
2 ounces whole wheat flour
5/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 ounces honey
1/2 ounce butter
…in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and stir on low until a dough forms, about a minute. Switch to the dough hook and knead for 2-3 minutes more. The dough should be soft and not too sticky. Add more flour or water as needed to achieve the right consistency.
Place the dough on a floured board and knead it by hand for 3-4 minutes, letting it take up extra flour as needed. For the dough into a ball, let it rest five minutes, then knead it for about a minute more. It should feel soft, pliable and a little bit sticky. Form it into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl. Allow it to rise 45 minutes to an hour, until it’s about 150% its original size.
Shape the dough and put it into a greased 4″ x 8 1/2″ loaf pan. Let it rise about another hour until it’s again about 150% its original size. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425. Place the loaf in the oven, then turn the oven down to 350. bake for 20 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake another 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Transfer the loaf to a rack to cool for a minimum of an hour.