White flour is made from the bulk of the wheat kernel, the starchy endosperm. Whole wheat flour takes more from the plant. In addition to the endosperm, it retains the bran, which is the fibrous outer husk of the kernel, and the germ, which contains the oil in the grain. Make no mistake: the endosperm of a wheat kernel is nourishing all by itself. But incorporating the bran and germ results in a more fiber- and nutrient-rich food. So I played around a bit with my basic formula.
First I applied my technique to 100-percent whole wheat bread, and while it made good toast, I found that it was too gritty, too dense for my taste. Whole wheat lacks some of the elasticity of white bread flours. So I kept cutting down the ratio until I got to around 25-percent whole wheat flour—and finally I was content. (Actually, before milling was as efficient as it is now, there was always a significant portion of the bran left behind in white flour, so this ratio more closely resembles preindustrial bread.)
I invite you to try the experiment yourself if you’re interested in finding your own favorite ratio. Go all the way with 100-percent whole wheat flour, then drop down to 85 or 50 percent, or lower. If you’ve got health reasons to get a lot of fiber into your diet, a high proportion of whole wheat might do the trick; so might adding other grains like flaxseed. And maybe you’ll actually prefer the taste and feel of this no-knead bread based on a higher ratio of whole wheat than the one I offer here.–Jim Lahey
LC Bread That Sprecheksn the Deutch Note
Regardless of your ancestry, you can make this sturdy whole-grain loaf even more substantial–and satisfying–when you consider pretending you’re German and tossing in a handful of walnuts or maybe some pumpkin and sunflower sesame seeds when mixing the dough.
No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread Recipe
Hands-On Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes, not including rising time | Makes one 10-inch round loaf
- 2 1/4 cups bread flour, plus more for the work surface
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
- 1 1/3 cups cool (55 to 65°F) water
- Wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour, for dusting
- 1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, salt, and yeast. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.
- 2. Generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough onto the surface in one piece. Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.
- 3. Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust it with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough feels tacky [Editor's Note: that simply means sticky], dust the top lightly with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost double in size. When you gently poke the dough with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.
- 4. About half an hour before you think the second rise is complete, preheat the oven to 475°F (245°C). Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and place a 4 1/2-to-5 1/2-quart heavy Dutch oven or pot with a lid in the center of the rack.
- 5. Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. (Use caution—the pot will be very hot.) Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking until the loaf is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15 to 30 minutes more. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly. Then slice and…sigh.
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No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread Recipe © 2009 Jim Lahey. Photo © 2009 Squire Fox. All rights reserved.