Whole-Wheat Levain

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Dough Yield: About

    22

    loaves at 1.5 lb each

Appears in

Bread

By Jeffrey Hamelman

Published 2004

  • About

The Pre-Ferment Used in this bread is essentially a poolish (100 percent hydration), with natural sourdough starter used in lieu of baker’s yeast. The protease enzyme degrades flour protein, and is quite active in a liquid environment such as the loose-textured starter used here. This results in a dough with high extensibility, which in turn helps give the bread a reduced elasticity, good volume, and a lightness that it would otherwise lack.

Pre-Fermented Flour: 15%

Ingredients

Overall Formula

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Whole-Wheat Flour 10 lb 5 kg 1 lb 50 %
Bread Flour 10 lb 5 kg 1 lb 50 %
Water 13.8 lb 6.9 kg 1 lb, 6.1 oz 69 %
Salt .36 lb .18 kg .6 oz 1.8 %
Total Yield 34.16 lb 17.08 kg 3 lb, 6.7 oz 170.8 %

Liquid-Levain Build

Whole-Wheat Flour 3 lb 1.5 kg 4.8 oz (1⅛ cups) 100 %
Water 3 lb 1.5 kg 4.8 oz ( cup) 100 %
Mature Culture (Liquid) .6 lb .3 kg 1 oz (2 T) 20 %
Total 6.6 lb 3.3 kg 10.6 oz

Final Dough

Whole-Wheat Flour 7 lb 3.5 kg 11.2 oz ( cups)
Bread Flour 10 lb 5 kg 1 lb (4½ cups)
Water 10.8 lb 5.4 kg 1 lb, 1.3 oz (2⅛ cups)
Salt .36 lb .18 kg .6 oz (1 T)
Levain 6 lb 3 kg 9.6 oz (all less 2 T)
Total 34.16 lb 17.08 kg 3 lb, 6.7 oz

Method

  1. Whole-Wheat Poolish: Approximately 12 to 14 hours before the final mix, make the poolish by dispersing the mature culture in the water and mixing in the whole-wheat flour. Let stand in a covered container at about 70°F.
  2. Mixing: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl. In a spiral mixer, mix on first speed for 3 minutes to incorporate all the ingredients. Correct the hydration as necessary. The dough should be of medium looseness. Finish the mix on second speed for 2 to 2½ minutes. The gluten network should be only moderately developed. Desired dough temperature: 76°F.
  3. Bulk Fermentation: 2½ hours.
  4. Folding: Fold the dough twice, at 50-minute intervals.
  5. Dividing and Shaping: Divide the dough into 1.5-pound pieces; shape round or oblong.
  6. Final Fermentation: Approximately 2 to 2½ hours at 76°F (alternatively, retard for up to 8 hours at 50°F, or up to 18 hours at about 42°F).
  7. Baking: With normal steam, 460°F for 40 to 45 minutes.