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How to bake whole-wheat bread

Want to try your hand at baking bread? Use these easy step-by-step instructions for making the perfect loaf

Making true whole-wheat bread
Photo by Alex Farnum

Making true whole-wheat bread

A bread that's 100 percent whole-grain can be dense and dry, but this one, by Lorrette Patzwald, who works with Ponsford's Place in San Rafael, California, is a revelation—moist and springy, with amazing depth of flavor. She starts by soaking some coarse grains to give the bread texture. Patzwald's secret for working with local flours, which aren’t as predictable as supermarket flours, is to let your eyes and sense of touch—not just measurements—guide you along. Her directions tell you how.

The recipe that follows makes one loaf (1 lb., 14 oz.) and takes 3 hours, plus 4 hours to stand and cool. You'll need:

For the soaker

  • 5 tsp. coarse whole-grain polenta or corn grits*
  • 3 tbsp. bulgur wheat
For the dough

  • About 3 1/2 cups whole-wheat bread flour such as hard red, hard white, or Red Fife
  • 1 3/4 tsp. instant yeast such as RapidRise
  • 1 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • About 2 tbsp. olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp. melted butter
*Find whole-grain polenta and corn grits such as Community Grains and Bob's Red Mill at well-stocked grocery stores, communitygrains.com, and bobsredmill.com

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