With a little patience and the help of a food processor, it's possible for 100 percent whole wheat bread to bake up as fluffy, light, and chewy as a classic white loaf, but with all the nuttiness, flavor, and virtue of whole grains. The key is patience and power, with an autolyse to hydrate the flour before kneading in a food processor. This powerful tool makes short work of the dough, allowing for rapid and intensive gluten development in 75 seconds flat.
Why It Works
- Fully hydrating the flour with an autolyse substantially improves gluten formation and development in 100% whole wheat bread.
- A food processor makes short work of the stiff dough, creating intense gluten development in just 75 seconds.
- Brown sugar adds flavor and complexity with minimal sweetness.
Read more: How to Make 100% Whole Wheat Bread
- Yield:One 8-inch loaf
- Active time: 10 minutes
- Total time:About 8 hours
- 15 ounces whole wheat flour, such as Bob's Red Mill (about 3 1/3 cups, spooned; 425g), plus more for dusting
- 11 1/4 ounces cool water, about 65°F/18°C (about 1 1/2 cups minus 4 1/2 teaspoons; 320g)
- 1 3/4 ounces dark or light brown sugar (about a shy 1/4 cup; 50g)
- 3/8 ounce (2 3/4 teaspoons; 11g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
- 1/4 ounces instant dry yeast, such as SAF (1 packet or 2 rounded teaspoons; 7g); not RapidRise or active dry (more info here)
- 2 ounces cool water, about 65°F/18°C (about 1/4 cup; 55g)
- 1 ounce neutral oil, such as safflower, or a nutty, flavorful oil, such as hazelnut or roasted pumpkin seed (about 2 heaping tablespoons; 28g)
For the Autolyse: In large bowl, combine whole wheat flour with first addition of water. Stir until water is absorbed; then knead briefly against the sides of the bowl until no floury bits remain. Cover and set aside for 2 hours 30 minutes to hydrate flour.
For the Dough: Transfer hydrated dough to a 14-cup food processor fitted with a metal blade, along with brown sugar, salt, and instant dry yeast. Process until dough is silky smooth, and a small piece can be stretched into a thin sheet without tearing, about 75 seconds. The exact timing will vary with the power and capacity of a given machine. For smaller machines, the reduced capacity and power will necessitate dividing dough in half to process in stages.
Once gluten is well developed, add remaining water and oil; process until perfectly smooth. At this stage, the dough will feel sticky, wet, and elastic.
First Rise: Transfer dough to large, lightly greased bowl (it's fine to reuse bowl from autolyse, no need to wash). Cover and proof until puffy, light, and roughly doubled in bulk, about 2 hours at 70°F (21°C). In a chilly kitchen, the dough will need more time to rise, and in a warmer kitchen, it will move faster.
Shaping the Loaf: Turn soft dough out onto clean surface lightly dusted with whole wheat flour. Pat dough into 7-inch square, and form into tight log, sealing dough together with heel of your hand. Nestle into lightly greased 1-pound loaf pan, seam side down; cover loosely as before.
Second Rise: Let dough proof until puffy, light, and risen about 2 1/2 inches above rim of pan at very center. To test dough, poke it gently with a flour-dusted fingertip; when dough is ready, it will retain a shallow impression that springs back after a minute. If dough is firm and springs back right away, continue proofing until dough retains a shallow impression. This will take about 75 minutes at around 70°F (21°C). Again, timing of the process will vary based on environmental conditions. Near the end of this period, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
Baking the Loaf: After the second rise, uncover dough and bake until well risen, golden brown, and hollow sounding when thumped; about 45 minutes, or to an internal temperature of approximately 200°F (93°C). Immediately turn loaf out onto a wire rack, and cool completely before slicing, at least 90 minutes. Slice with a sharp serrated knife. The loaf will keep up to a week at room temperature in a bread box or paper bag.