This sourdough loaf is a real winner! This will likely be your new go-to bread for our daily breakfasts and sandwiches. It's a fine blend of whole wheat flour and enough stretchy gluten strands to yield a light, relatively airy loaf.
Whole Wheat Sourdough Boule [Vegan]
- 2 cups ripe starter
- 2 1/4 cups warm water
- 3/4 cup, plus 3 3/4 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3 3/4 cups, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons whole wheat flour
- 3 3/4 cups, plus 2 3/4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Plan to mix your dough when the starter's not been fed for at least 8 hours. This will yield great leavening power because the starter's ready to devour your flour.
- Mix all ingredients together, either by hand or in a stand-up. Give it at least 5 minutes in the machine or twice that long if you're kneading by hand. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and an elastic band and let it sit out on your counter in that same bowl.
- After about an hour, open it up and perform a series (maybe four or five) of stretch and fold sequences, where you grab the dough by the edge, let it sag down a ways, and then fold it back in on itself. This is important to build the gluten structure and allow air to be trapped in the dough. Temperature is really important at this time. Normal room temperature (i.e., not the tropics) should provide for an 8-10 hour bulk ferment. When it's this hot (90°F) it can ferment for 5 hours.
- Once this stage is done, you need to prepare a surface to fold again and then shape. Perform some of the same stretch and fold sequences. Divide the dough in two, then shape it into the form you want to bake in. This could be a bread pan or simply a free-form shape. If the latter, spray a bowl with a bit of cooking spray and set the loaf into it, seam side up. Put this into your refrigerator for at least 8 hours, but up to 2 days. This is called cold proofing and it's essential for structure and flavor enhancement of the bread.
- When it's done proofing, preheat your oven to 450°F. If using a Dutch oven, put it in there to preheat. When it's been at temperature for a little while (about 15 minutes), make a quick transfer of your bread from refrigerator to oven. You can score your bread at this time, but it's not necessary. It will crack where it needs to.
- Bake inside the Dutch oven for 30 minutes with the lid on. Then, 10-15 without. If you don't have a lid or a Dutch oven, simply shoot for 40 minutes. You may work on spraying a bit of water on the bread when it goes in (carefully) or put a baking dish of water below it. Both of these steps are designed to better your crust. They're important, but not crucial.
- Whole Wheat