It’s maybe not the best weather for baking bread (summer finally came to the Netherlands), but I did it anyway, because I finally found a nice-looking recipe for simple whole grain bread. I like all the special breads, made with white flour or are enriched with all kinds of ingredients, but for us, those are not suitable for every day meals. And bought everyday breads are either flavourless, or too expensive. That is why I’ve tried to make whole grain bread many times before, but it always ended up flavourless and crumbly in texture, so I kept buying cheap but flavourless breads from the supermarket. But this recipe is different: it uses a poolish (preferment) and has a long, slow rise, which both give a lot of flavour and help with the texture. And indeed, the result is great! It is quite some work to make this bread, so the next thing I’d like to try is if the bread freezes well. In that case, I can bake two breads at once, eat one directly and freeze the other for the other halve of the week. I’ll keep you posted!
Also check out these rolls made with the same dough!
Whole grain bread (1 bread)
slightly adapted from “Uit de keuken van Levine“
250 gram whole grain flour
250 gram water, room temperature
1/2 tsp dried yeast
80 gram water, 20 – 25 °C
250 gram whole grain flour
1 tsp dried yeast
1.5 tsp salt
15 gram soft butter
sunflower oil (or other neutral oil) for greasing the bowl
bread tin of 23 – 25 cm, greased
Make the poolish 6-8 hours in advance (when you’re baking in the morning, you can make the poolish the evening before, when you’re baking in the evening you can make the poolish in the morning). Make sure you use a bowl that is large enough, the mixture will at least quadruple. To make the poolish mix the whole grain flour, water and yeast with a wooden spoon or fork in a large bowl until everything is combined well. Cover with cling film and leave to bubble away at room temperature for 6-8 hours. It is important to use the poolish before it collapses, so don’t leave it too long.
To make the dough: add all the ingredients for the dough to a bowl (I just dump all the other ingredients on top of the bowl I used for the poolish) and mix well with a fork or wooden spoon. Dump it onto your workspace (optionally greased with some sunflower oil, but no flour!) and knead it to a supple dough in 15-20 minutes. It is very sticky in the beginning and only starts to become less sticky at the end of kneading, but don’t add any extra flour because this will make the bread less tasty. Do the windowpane test to check if the bread is kneaded enough: take a small ball of dough and stretch it slowly while turning. If you get a nice, thin window it is good, if it rips, kneed an extra 5 minutes and try again.
Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl. Turn it around so that all the sides of the ball are covered with a little oil (this prevents the dough from drying out and forming a hard skin). Cover with greased cling film and leave to rise for 45 minutes at room temperature. It should almost double in size.
Dump the dough on your (greased) workspace and press the air out. Form it in a ball, cover with greased cling film and leave to rest for 20 minutes. Then form the dough into a loaf (check the original recipe for more extensive guidance, it has a link to pictures with the forming process): roll the dough into a rectangle (the long side is horizontal). Fold the right side to the middle of the dough, do the same with the left side and let the sides overlap slightly (basically you fold the dough double, but with the seem in the middle on top). Then, roll the dough again, but this time the long side of the rectangle is vertical, and the short horizontal side should not get broader than the baking tin you will use. Then, roll the dough up, starting at the top (short, horizontal side), making sure to roll it very tight. Close the seem by pinching it and place the loaf in the baking tin with the seem down.
Cover with greased cling film and let rise for the second time, about 60 minutes. Again, the dough should almost double in size. It has risen enough when you press it with your finger and bounces back slowly. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 230C.
Place the loaf tin with the risen bread onto a baking tray in the oven, spray with a spray bottle some water on the oven walls to create a steamy environment. Close the oven door immediately. Bake the bread 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 200C and bake for a further 20 minutes. Remove the bread directly from the tin after baking and leave to cool completely on a wire rack before attempting to slice it.
Storing the bread air tight will make the crust chewy (still very delicious), so when you like a crispy crust and the bread is intact it is best to keep it out in the open. When you ate some slices, do store it airtight, otherwise the crumb will dry out. The bread will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days if you store it airtight and only slice the bread you need immediately.