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Sep 20, 2013

40% Whole Wheat Boules

40% Whole Wheat Boules

I am completely addicted to Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast.  I'm not promising that I'm going to make every bread in the book (but I'm pretty sure I will, based on how much I've loved every bread so far).

This bread has an amazingly open texture for whole wheat. The flavor is perfect for sandwiches, toast, or fresh bread at the dinner table. I love it for whole wheat garlic cheese toast.

40% Whole Wheat Boules

You can play around with the grains as well as the whole wheat versus white flour in this bread to create a loaf that is your own - just remember that you will have to add more water to compensate for more whole grains. I'm looking forward to experimenting with spelt, kamut, and other ancient grains.

40% Whole Wheat Boules

This bread requires about a five hour bulk fermentation and then an overnight proofing in the refrigerator after shaping the loaves. If you want bread first thing in the morning, begin around 1:00 pm the day before. I started around 5:00 pm and made the loaves at noon the next day (I'm kind of a night person).

I am in love with the flavor and texture of this bread. It's miraculous. And so easy. Don't be afraid to make this. Making your own bread will change your life. Working with dough and getting to know when it's just right is a beautiful thing. Sharing it with your family and friends is uplifting.

Overnight 40% Whole Wheat Boules Recipe


600 g unbleached all purpose flour
400 g whole wheat flour
800 g/ 3 1/2 C 90 to 95 degree F filtered water
22 g fine sea salt
3/4 tsp instant yeast


  1. Mix the flours and water in a large tub or bowl (I used a 12 qt. Cambro tub) by hand or with large dough whisk until everything has been incorporated. Cover the container and let the mixture rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle the salt and yeast over the top of the dough and mix with your wet hands by folding the dough over itself a few times, and then pinching the dough to fully blend the ingredients. I keep a bowl of water nearby to re-wet my hands while mixing the dough. Repeat the folding and pinching until the salt and yeast is fully mixed in and distributed. This should only take about a minute or two. Cover the bowl/bucket and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Do three "stretch-and-folds" over a 90 minute period, covering the bucket in between. 
  4. Allow the dough to rise until it has tripled in size. This should take about five hours.
  5. Gently scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in half with a bench knife. 
  6. Prepare two brotforms, bannetons, or towel lined 9 inch bowls with a dusting of flour. I usually use a mixture of whole wheat and brown rice flour. 
  7. Gently form the two pieces into boules and place them seam side down into the brotforms. 
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, about 12 to 14 hours. The loaves can be baked right out of the refrigerator. 
  9. About 45 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F with two empty covered Dutch ovens placed on the middle rack. 
  10. When you are ready to bake, cut parchment paper into two 9 inch by 15+ inch pieces. 
  11. Remove the Dutch ovens from the oven and remove the tops. One loaf at a time, place the parchment over the dough and place a plate over it. Flip the dough over, remove the basket, and lift and place the loaf in the Dutch oven by using the parchment as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). While usually you don't need to slash the top of this dough because it is seam side up, I did roughly slash this dough. 
  12. Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. Repeat with the second loaf. 
  13. Bake covered for 30 minutes, and then remove the Dutch ovens from the hot oven, uncover, and place the loaves on a baking sheet. Be careful not to burn yourself! Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more, until the interior of the bread reaches 205 to 210 degrees F and the bread is a deep brown. My loaves were ready sooner, so check early. 
  14. Cool completely on a wire rack. 
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Would you like to comment?

  1. Wow, the open crumb on that loaf is amazing! I love bread recipes like this - so little work, so much reward!

  2. Karen,
    I have my own Rye starter that I have used in a couple of Ken Forkish's recipes and have turned out great, but my question is on the amount of his Starter in his book "Flour Yeast & Water."

    I do not bake bread that much, so I only add 30g rye flour, 30g water to my starter. He mentions in his book one can half the starter he suggests to 50g flour, 50g water. But how does one build up the starter to the amount needed in his recipes (100g) of starter? Thanks.

    1. If you only have a small amount of starter, you can feed it twice to build it up, first with 30/30, and then with 60/60.

  3. Hi there! This recipe and bread look great. How would you adapt the recipe for you use with regular (not instant) yeast? Or for use with a sourdough starter or levain? Thanks so much.

    1. For regular yeast, just use the appropriate amount and proceed. For levain, I haven't tried it yet, so I wouldn't want to steer you wrong.

  4. Just found your post and enjoyed reading it. I have successfully made this bread and use so much of it for my family that I would like to double it. Any thoughts on that? Would you recommend mixing each batch separately and using 2 tubs or could I put in all in one tub?

    1. Thanks for the kind words! You could put it all in one tub and divide before shaping.


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