Monday, January 16, 2012

Breadfarm's Winthrop Whole Wheat Bread

Winthrop Whole Wheat Bread (as made and sold at the bakery)
Loosely based on a Peter Reinhart recipe, the Winthrop loaf is a fairly simple bread to make at home. You just need to plan ahead since it requires two preferments: a 24-hour soaker (which spends 12 hours in the refrigerator and 12 hours on the counter) and a whole wheat starter. Breadfarm's owner Scott Mangold uses wheat from two different parts of Washington State: white whole wheat flour from Bluebird Grain Farms in Winthrop and coarse whole wheat flour from Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill in nearby Burlington. Having neither of those, I used what I had on hand, which was white whole wheat flour from Fairhaven and hard red winter wheat berries from the coop, which I ground coarsely with my own little mill.
It is also a rather forgiving recipe if you make sure to bring both preferments to room temperature before incorporating them. I miscalculated my schedule for the day and had to slow down the starter in the fridge. It came back to life beautifully. Scott says that as an alternative to making the soaker one day ahead of time, you can also make it only 12 hours before mixing and then skip the waiting in the fridge part by just having it rest at room temperature (about 73°F/23°C).
Breadfarm maintains a whole wheat starter at 100% hydration but any wheat starter can be used provided its hydration is appropriately adjusted. I used my regular white liquid levain (100% hydration) and simply fed it twice with coarsely milled wheat flour before using in the recipe. The important part is to  make sure  to feed the starter about 8 hours prior to mixing (although, as I said, I had to slow mine down and it still worked). It must achieve full ripeness. If fed coarsely milled flour, the starter holds longer between feedings and the resulting bread is more chewy.

Fairhaven coarsely milled wheat flour

Ingredients (for 3 small loaves): 
(Scott uses his mixer at the bakery but at home I did the mixing by hand)
For the soaker
  • 320 g white whole wheat flour
  • 248 g water
  • 14.5 g salt (all the salt for the formula goes into the soaker to inhibit protease activity)
For the starter
  • 65.5 g ripe whole wheat starter (100% hydration)
  • 262 g coarse whole wheat flour
  • 262 g water
For the final dough
  • .85 g instant yeast (about 1/4 of a teaspoon) (used in a production situation to ensure that the bread rises on schedule but optional at home)
  • 23 g water
  • 590 g starter (all the starter)
  • 582 g soaker (all the soaker)
  • 227 g white whole wheat flour
In the video below, you see Scott mixing, folding, scaling and shaping. Only two folds are shown but Scott actually did three. Also the bakers working and chatting in the background are Caryn, Gregory and Nathan. Matt was in charge of the oven that day and he did the baking as Scott had to go home take care of his kids. 
  1. Proof the yeast in the warm water for 5 minutes (even if it's instant as it makes it more active and you need to use less)
  2. Combine all ingredients and mix until you get a good windowpane test (see video) but the dough is still loose and shaggy. Target dough temperature should be 78 to 80°F (26-27°C)
  3. Fold three times at 25 minutes interval
  4. Divide and shape as batards 25 minutes after the last fold (no pre-shaping)
  5. Bake about 20 minutes after shaping in 450°F/232°C oven for 35 to 45 minutes with steam in the first few minutes.

Winthrop 100% Whole Wheat (the Farine version)
I had fun making the Winthrop loaf and I love its flavor. Scott says it has a small but devoted following among the whole grains crowd and I can understand why. It's definitely a keeper!

The Winthrop 100% Whole Wheat Bread is going to Susan for Yeastspotting, her weekly roundup of breads and other baked goodies.


  1. MC,

    Thank you so much again with new baker and bakery introduction. I'm feel so lucky to be able to read all your great posts. I will try to bake your recipe soon and I don't think so I will be able to find coarse whole wheat flour since I already ship my little mill back to Asia but I will try on different type of ww flour. I will report back maybe in a week and so. Thank you so much.


  2. Very tempting bread, and healthier version as well!

    1. Hi, Dewi, thanks for stopping by. Don't you love it when taste and health go hand in hand?

  3. Gorgeous bread! I posted (or tried to) a comment yesterday, but the site kicked me out for some strange reason (no, I was not on my iPad.. :-)

    Anyway, I tried to say that I will need to save a special folder on my computer for your breads, every single one of them is a temptation to put on my list to bake "soon"

    Hope you are having a nice Sunday, snow and all...

    1. Oh, Sally, thank you so much! But you already have so much on your plate (no pun intended) for 2012. I don't see how you can possibly fit in more breads!

  4. Hello MC,
    Thank you for featuring this wonderful bread from BreadFarm. Your loaf looks just as perfect as the bakery's :^)
    I tried making this bread today & loved the flavor; I can see why it has a devoted following!
    :^) from breadsong

    1. Hi breadsong, so glad the bread worked out well for you! Scott will be happy to count one more whole-wheat lover.



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