My Daily 100% Whole Grain Sourdough (Brown Bread)

My Daily 100% Whole Grain Sourdough (Brown Bread)

I’ve long kept a personal diary online of my bakes to help track progression and variables and thought it might be nice to begin sharing them here. Over the years I’ve learned an astonishing amount from contributors on this site, I’ve fallen down rabbit hole after rabbit hole chasing theory on microbiology (you’re amazing Debra! When will you offer classes again?? Years before I found this site I started my first starter with Artisan Breads Every Day!), dough strength, gluten formation, etc. It’s not unusual for me to maintain several open tabs here for weeks on end. I also choose to bake with 100% whole grains from my local mill, originally for the nutrition and flavor (and challenge!) but increasingly because it supports a local economy and agricultural system that align with my beliefs. I’m not particularly patient, but I do tend to be rather methodical. As such the diary has been an enormous help in recognizing cause and effect for experiments that take a few days to complete, particularly because I’m often inspired midway through to try ten things differently next time. That said, I’ve settled into a basic routine that I’m happy with and am more comfortable isolating one or two variables at a time. I’m currently playing with dough strength in an attempt to push my whole grain as far as I can. I’ve recently been inspired by Mariana’s comments in this thread, and for this last loaf I dusted off the KitchenAid to see what would happen. Spoiler alert, not much. We own the Artisan model unfortunately so the dough hook isn’t particularly effective, but it was worth a shot. The rest of the process was as follows:

  • 100% Whole Grain Heirloom French Renan
  • 80% Hydration
  • 5% inoculation
  • 2% Salt

Autolyze for 5 hours followed by inoculation, a brief rest, and salt. My current theory is that building strength during the autolysis is beneficial, particularly when working with whole grains. So there was a lot of Rubaud and rolling around in the bowl during this time. After inoculation I laminated this dough twice, which is also a relatively new technique for me, but the effects were inconclusive. Although I prefer long cool fermentation I made a scheduling error and was forced to bulk at 80℉ to avoid 2am completion. I generally shoot for about 75% rise before shaping, followed by an hour or so at room temperature, then a retard in our very cold fridge of at last 5 hours. This loaf was baked after three nights in the fridge. 

This is not the best loaf from my most recent bakes, but they’ve become very consistent. As such I think I’m now better able to dial in on some of the more subtle effects from the process. As Trevor Wilson says, it’s about 80% fermentation so as that remains consistent so too do the bakes. For the next bake I plan to incorporate some ideas I have based on watching what happens with Richard Bertinet’s dough.

This site has become a respite of sorts from what feels like an increasingly toxic internet culture. The quality of contributions and dialogue is a real breath of fresh air and I thank you all.