Friday, March 11, 2011

Honey Whole Wheat Bread, From a Whole Wheat Poolish

Honey Whole Wheat Bread, From a Whole Wheat Poolish

There are actually four saucy siblings (as part of this blog anyway, if all our siblings were involved it would be eight), so I decided that I had better post.  My specialty tends to be breads, pastries, and desserts, though I can also make lots of other stuff.  As such, my meals tend less toward the healthy and more towards the sinfully good.  However since Skoticus likes Honey Whole Wheat Bread quite a bit, I tend to make this version which combines the best of both whole wheat and normal bread flour for a whole wheat taste (and honey, mmmm... honey), without the texture problems that can come from using whole wheat flour.

The dough for this recipe also makes very good scones.

Makes 2 one-pound loaves

For the Poolish:

1 cup whole wheat bread
1+1/2 cups bread flour
~1+1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (use a little more if you are using active dry, as it is less powerful)

For the Remainder:

2 Tbs softened butter
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp yeast (see note above)
2 tsp salt
~1+1/2 cups water
3 cups bread flour

Combine the poolish ingredients in a large bowl until all the flour is wet.  You want the dough to be soft and sticky, almost like really think pancake dough.  If the poolish is too dry add more water (this will depend upon the humidity of your location, I live Provo which has a very low humidity so I always have to add more water).  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  You may use the poolish after about 3 to 4 hours or when it has become bubbly and foamy.  If you are not going to use it immediately or just want a more flavorful bread, you can refrigerate the dough overnight. If you decide to refrigerate the dough, be sure to take it out 1 to 2 hours before use so that it can come up to room temperature.

Once your poolish is ready, add the butter, honey, yeast, and salt.  Stir lightly.  Add the water and 2 cups of the flour.  Stir with a strong spoon, or get your hands dirty.  Knead the dough, adding flour until the dough is smooth, elastic, and very lightly sticky.

Cover your dough with either flour and a cloth, or with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with oil.  Let your dough sit until doubled.  Separate into two pieces.  Now you have a lot of options.  You can forms balls (also known as boules), or into the longer, torpedo shape, that I made as well as many many other options.  If you have a couche it is wonderful to raise the dough on that, if not I recommend that you raise it on what it will be baked on.

When your dough has almost doubled preheat the oven to 350 F, and prepare about 1 to 1+1/2 cups of boiling water. (Or other methods see below)

Once the oven is ready, pour the water into the oven. (CAUTION) Be very careful doing this, firstly so that you don't break the glass in your oven door due to thermal shock. Secondly, this should probably not be done in any oven that has vents in the bottom of the oven, like many gas ovens.  As an alternative, you can preheat the oven with a warp-proof pan on the lower rack and pour the steam into that.  Warp-proof pans tend to be solid steel or iron, most aluminum pans will warp from the shock.  Also, don't use anything with a teflon coating.  One additional option is to spray a large amount of water into the oven using a spray bottle.  If you are doing that, be careful not to hit the light or oven door.  (CAUTION)

Bake for about 20 minutes.  Look in the oven, and rotate the pans if the bread is cooking unevenly.  Bake for another 15-25 minutes or until the bread is golden brown.



  1. Andrew!! I'm so glad you posted this! And I haven't seen you since LAST YEAR. We need to do something about that. :)

  2. Your cooking sounds dangerous, lots of warnings and cautions, so awesome!!!