Making a wholemeal loaf can be quite different from making a white loaf as the flour will absorb more water because of the bran and germ. Wholemeal dough benefits from the stretch and fold method, as kneading can be too harsh. When kneading the constant stretching will mean that the bran pieces shear the gluten network. This means that you have to knead a wholemeal dough for longer than you would a white dough to get the same results. The stretch and fold method relies on the gluten chains developing during the rest periods and the dough is strengthened through gentle stretching and folding. The more fragile dough will thank you for the gentle handling.
You can watch me make this dough in the video or scroll down for the ingredients and method.
500g wholemeal flour
5g easy bake/ instant/ fast action yeast or 15g fresh yeast
5-10g fine sea salt
between 380-420g water
Place the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl and mix through. Pour in 340g water and start to mix. You will need more water. As the dough starts to come together splash in small amounts of water and mix until the dough has a soft, slightly sticky consistency and there are no dry bits. Keep on squeezing the dough for another minute or so to make sure the flour is fully hydrated.
Cover with a proving cloth or shower cap and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes, up to an hour. Uncover and do the first round of stretch and fold. Leave to rest again for at least ten minutes. Do a second round of stretch and fold.
Cover and leave to ferment for at least an hour to get light and filled with air. You could put it in the fridge overnight at this stage.
When airy and light, shape and leave to ferment again. You could place it in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 220C, 425F, gas mark 7. When the loaf is fully proofed (see video) bake for 30-40 minutes depending on your oven. Check that it is fully baked by placing an internal thermometer in the centre of the loaf. It should read at least 88C for the loaf to be fully baked. The loaf should be golden all over and feel light.
Leave to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.