Project Description

 

Photo by Photo by Grant Butler | The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Michael Pollam — a long time friend of Community Grains — adapted this recipe from his book, Cooked, using Community Grains’ flours. In the book, Pollan attributed this recipe to Chad Robertson whose Country Loaf is featured in his book, Tartine Bread. Unlike Robertson’s recipe, Pollan’s recipe is 100% whole-grain.

Michael Pollan’s Whole Wheat Country Loaf

Makes 2 loaves.

Levain

Ingredient Amount Baker’s Percentage
CG Hard Red Wheat Flour 200g 100%
Warm Water 200g 100%
Sourdough Starter 30-35g 15% – 17%

 

The night before baking your bread, prepare your levain and premix your dough (below). Prepare the levain by combining the following ingredients in a glass bowl:

  1. 200g Community Grains Hard Red Wheat Flour
  2. 200g warm water (about 80°F)
  3. 2 tablespoons (30-35g) of starter
  4. Cover loosely with a tea towel, and let sit in a draft-free spot at room temperature for 8-10 hours (overnight)

Dough 

Ingredient

Amount

Baker’s Percentage

Total Flour

1000g

100%

CG Summit Hard Red Wheat Flour

600g

60%

CG Patwin Hard White Wheat Flour

400g

40%

Water

925g

92.5%

Salt

25g

2.5%

Brown Rice Flour (for dusting), optional

N/A

 

Premix (Autolyse)

The reason for this step is to fully moisten the whole-grain flours before the fermentation begins. This softens the bran (making for a more voluminous loaf) and begins to breakdown the starches and sugar (deepening flavor and color). A recommended extra step: pass whole grain flour through a sifter to remove larger bits of bran; reserved bran will be incorporated later.

  1. Place a large mixing bowl on a kitchen scale. Zero the scale.
  2. Pour both flours and 875g of warm water into the bowl, mixing by hand or with a spatula until there are no lumps or patches of dry flour remaining.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave out overnight.

Final Mix

  1. In the morning, add about half of your levain to the bowl with the wet dough; reserve the rest of your levain as your starter going forward.
  2. Wet your hands, and mix the dough and levain together for a few minutes by squeezing and folding the dough on top of itself.
  3. Let the dough rest for 20-45 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a cup mix the salt with the remaining 50g of warm water.
  5. After the dough has rested add the salty water and work it in thoroughly by hand.

Bulk Fermentation

This step takes 4-5 hours depending on the ambient temperature, the vigor of your starter, and the protein content of your bread (the protein content changes by harvest). Watch for the formation of air bubbles; smell and taste along the way.

  1. To perform a turn, wet your dominant hand, lightly grab the quadrant of dough closest to you, gently stretch it upwards and fold it back onto the center of the dough mass.
  2. Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and repeat this action until you’ve completed at least one revolution of the bowl.
  3. Repeat every 45 to 60 minutes.
  4. The dough is ready to be divided and shaped when it feels billowy cohesive–it wants to stick to itself more than the bowl.

Dividing the Dough

  1. Sprinkle your work surface with flour. Spill the dough out on the surface. Using a dough scraper, divide the mass into 2 more or less equal halves.
  2. Shape these into globes, using your floured hands together with the scraper to rotate the dough against the work surface until it forms a ball with some surface tension.
  3. Cover the 2 globes with a towel (or inverted bowl) and let them rest for 20 minutes.

Shaping the Dough

  1. Dust the top of the dough and using the scraper flip one of the globes, which will have flattened somewhat, onto its back.
  2. Grab the top edge of the dough (farthest from you) stretch is away from you and fold it over the top.
  3. Do the same to the edge of the dough closest to you, and then to each of the sides. You should have a rough rectangle of dough.
  4. Next, take each of the corners in turn, stretching and folding over the top.
  5. Now, cup your hands around the package of dough and roll it away from you until you have a short, taut cylinder, with the seams on the bottom.
  6. If you sifted the whole-grain flour, spread the reserved bran on a plate or baking sheet and gently roll the dough in it to cover the bottom.
  7. Sprinkle either rice flour or the remaining bran into the bottom of a large bowl and then place the round dough top side down (use a proofing basket instead if you have one).
  8. Repeat steps 1 through 7 with the second loaf.

Proofing

  1. Cover the bowls with towels and let them rest in a warm spot for 2 to 3 hours, until the dough gets puffy again.
  2. Alternatively, put the shaped loaves in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight; this will retard fermentation while continuing to build flavor. It’s not necessary to proof it again after refrigeration, but give it an hour or so at room temperature before baking.

Bake

  1. Preheat oven to 500°F with empty combo cooker or Dutch oven inside.
  2. After 45-60 minutes, quickly remove the bottom half of the combo cooker from the oven and close the door.
  3. Turn the bowl (or basket) over the pot to drop the proofed loaf into it. Don’t worry if it doesn’t land squarely; it will straighten out.
  4. Take a single edge razor blade (or lame) and score the top of the loaf, in any pattern you like. But be decisive!
  5. Now take the top of the pot from the oven and place it on top to seal, then move the whole thing into the oven.
  6. Lower the temperature to 450°F and set a timer for 20 minutes.
  7. After 20 minutes, remove the top of the pot. The loaf will have doubled in volume and acquired a pale brown or tan color.
  8. Close the oven and give it another 20 to 25 minutes to bake with the top off. The loaf should now be a dark mahogany with a bit of blackening here and there, especially where it was scored.
  9. Remove the pot from the oven and the bread from the pot, using an oven mitt and a spatula.
  10. Tap it on the bottom, which should be very dark. A hallow percussion sound means the bread is properly cooked. If the bottom is pale and the sound is not percussive, return it to the oven for 5 more minutes.
  11. Set on a rack to cool for a few hours (wait at least an hour to cut into it). Whole-grain bread is usually at its best of day two and remains good for several days after that, kept in a paper (not plastic) bag.