I love whole wheat and multi-grain bread! It is a must have for my power sandwiches packed full of fresh vegetables, sprouts, thinly sliced meat and cheese with just a little homemade mayonnaise and a smidgen of mustard. Whole wheat and multi-grain breads tend to be dense breads with a low rise and small pores. There are a few ways to improve the rise and pore size in homemade whole wheat and multi-grain breads (eg. add gluten or lecithin, use part all purpose flour). I decided to make a batch of 40% whole wheat dough for cold fermentation.
2 c whole wheat flour
4½ c unbleached flour
1½ tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp instant yeast
3 c warm water
Mix the dry ingredients. Pour in the water and mix well. Let sit lightly covered until bubbly. Place in refrigerator with lid on container but not snapped tight. Cut the desired amount off to make a loaf of bread. Shape into boule on floured board then transfer to lightly floured parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for at least 2 hours. During the last half hour of the dough resting, heat oven to 425° - 450°F. Pour about 2 c of water into enamel coated cast iron Dutch oven. Preheat the Dutch oven in the oven for 30 minutes. When the Dutch oven is preheated pour out any remaining water. Slash the top of the dough. Carefully pull the corners of the parchment together to form a sling. Transfer paper and dough into the Dutch oven. Cover and bake 40 to 50 minutes depending on size of loaf. Remove the lid and continue baking until crust is golden brown.
During the last half hour of the dough resting, I preheated the Dutch oven at 425°F. I find I am getting nicer results baking at 425°F rather than 450°F that some are using. Quite often the temperature has to be adjusted slightly to get the desired results with your oven as ovens do vary slightly. Ovens can also have hot spots that will require shifting baking vessels and pans to prevent burning. This is less of a problem with newer ranges especially those with convection ovens. It may take a bit of trial an error to get the temperature just right. Start with the recommended 450°F and adjust as needed from there, starting by reducing the uncovered bake time from 15 minutes.
I could not wait to cut into this gorgeous loaf of bread but had to wait until dinner time. Once the bread had cooled, I carefully wrapped it in a t-towel. This kept the crust crispy and interior tender until ready to cut.
The more that I have worked with the cold fermented doughs, both unbleached all purpose and whole wheat based, the more I like them. Most bread recipes make a specific sized loaf of bread, not that you can't divide it down to make two smaller loaves, but once the dough is made it needs to be all baked at the same time. During the week it is usually just the two of us with a routine of eating dinner out Tuesdays and Fridays most weeks when home, and averaging 4 dinners out a week when at our vacation home. The majority of our breakfasts and lunches are not eaten out at either home so we still go through a fair amount of bread. Homemade bread is best used the same day or the next but it does not keep well. It can be froze but I prefer not to use my valuable freezer real estate for freezing breads. The beauty of the larger batch cold fermented doughs is you cut off the amount you need which works well for us. I can make a smaller loaf of bread that will get used up within a day but if need be make a larger loaf using the same dough simply by cutting off a bigger piece of dough. In that respect, the cold fermented doughs are very well suited to cooking for one or two people.