Settling on a whole wheat loaf that was both soft and delicious wasn’t easy. Any time you add whole wheat flour to bread, you run the risk of the loaf becoming dry and dense. Want to know my secret? Plenty of sourdough starter for strength, milk to soften the crumb, and just a touch of honey for sweetness. The best part is the melted butter brushed over the top when finished. Work this loaf into your baking routine, and bake several to freeze for the week.
About the Dough: For lighter bread, let the dough rest for a full hour before the bulk rise. This will jumpstart gluten development without kneading, adding great texture and height to the finished loaf. I also recommend using a stand mixer if you have one, for added air.
- Yield: 2 Loaf
- ¾ cup (150 g) bubbly, active starter
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp (270 g) warm milk, whole or 2%
- 2 tbsp (30 g) warm water
- 2 tbsp (40 g) honey
- 2 tbsp (30 g) oil, plus more for coating the pan
- 1 cup (120 g) whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
- 3 cups (360 g) bread flour
- 1½ tsp (9 g) fine sea salt
- 1 tbsp (14 g) unsalted butter, melted
- A few days before baking, feed your starter until bubbly and active. Store at room temperature until ready to use. Make the Dough
- In a large bowl, whisk the starter, milk, water, honey, and oil together with a fork. Add the flours and salt. Mix to combine, then finish by hand until a rough dough forms. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your schedule. Replenish your starter with fresh flour and water, and store according to preference.
- After the dough has rested, gently work it into a semi-smooth ball, about 15 to 20 seconds. The dough will feel supple and smooth when it comes together. Bulk Rise
- Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise at room temperature, 70°F (21°C), until double in size, about 6 to 8 hours. The dough will look nice and domed when ready. Shape
- Remove the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently dimple the surface with your fingertips to release any large air bubbles. Roll the dough into a log, tucking the ends underneath. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly coat a 9 × 5-inch (23 × 13-cm) loaf pan with oil. With floured hands, cup the dough and pull it toward you to tighten its shape. Place into your loaf pan, seam side down. Second Rise
- Cover the dough and let rest until it has risen about 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the rim of pan, about 1½ to 2 hours, depending on temperature.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Bake
- Bake the dough on the center rack for 40 to 45 minutes. When finished, remove the loaf from the oven and brush the crust with the melted butter. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
- This loaf is best consumed within 1 to 2 days, stored in a plastic bag at room temperature.