Whole Wheat Boule

I enjoy fancy breads, replete with various grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, and spices. But, there’s something to be said for returning to the basics and getting rids of the frills. The other day I was wanting a loaf of a simple, but well-done sourdough. Something with good flavor, crumb, and crust, but no extra additions to hide the inherent quality of the loaf. Here is a recipe that I adapted from Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the La Brea Bakery for a whole wheat boule that does just that. It focuses on bringing out the wheaty flavor while keeping the crumb light. The ingredients are fairly basic. Its preparation takes time, as all good sourdoughs do, but it is certainly worth it in the end. I cannot think of much more to say about this loaf. It is good and simple and satisfying and that is enough.


Whole Wheat Boule
Yield: ~1700 g (two medium-sized boules)

454 g water
482 g whole wheat starter (150% hydration)
25 g barley malt syrup
284 g whole wheat flour
411 g all-purpose flour
17 g wheat bran
17 g fine sea salt

Place water, whole-wheat starter, and malt syrup in a large bowl. Stir until the starter is loosened and the malt syrup is dissolved. Add the flours and wheat bran to this mixture. Stir/knead until well-combined and all of the flour is hydrated. Let rest or autolyse for 20 minutes.


Add the salt and continue kneading until the gluten in the dough has developed enough to pass the window pane test. Form the dough into a ball, place it in a well-oiled container, and cover.

Allow to ferment for 3-4 hours with a fold at every hour. By the last hour the dough should double in volume.

After the bulk fermentation, uncover the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut it into two equal pieces and slap each piece against the work surface a few time to release the gas bubbles that have developed. Tuck the edges under each piece, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Uncover the dough and shape the each piece into a boule. Place the boules, seam side up, into flour proofing baskets or banettons. Tightly cover the proofing baskets in with plastic and let the dough proof in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and take off the plastic wrap. The dough should have filled the bottom of each basket, but will not have risen very much. Cover the baskets and let the dough continue to proof at room temperature for 3-4 hours or until the dough reaches an internal temperature of 62 F.

Preheat the oven to 475 F one hour before baking. Prepare with a baking stone and steam pan. Invert the loaves onto a peel, score them, and place them in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes with steam and another 20-25 minutes without steam. Turn off the oven, crack the door, and leave loaves in for another 5-10 minutes. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into.


I’m most pleased to be part of this week’s YeastSpotting, as well. Make sure to check out the other delicious yeasted treats there!

11 Responses to “Whole Wheat Boule”

  1. Beautiful loaf! Very nice crust and airy crumb. No small feat with a whole wheat bread! Wow!

  2. foolishpoolish Says:

    Wow – great looking bread and I’m sure it tastes just as good. How easy was it to handle the dough? I have trouble with anything over 80% hydration – even if it’s whole wheat. Good job!

  3. FP – The dough was quite easy to handle. It wasn’t too sticky and could hold its shape pretty well. I’m partial to wet doughs myself. I never add the whole amount of flour required, but wait and see if I can get away with a little less or perhaps if the flour is dry enough that a smaller amount will suffice. Best of luck!

  4. I really like the way you describe this bread — good, simple, satisfying. It looks every bit that.

  5. I have had the Nancy Silverton cookbook for years but have not made this bread. I like the look of it. Will give it a shot and compare it with the whole wheat miche in Dan Leader’s Local Breads.

    • cbucholz Says:

      I just got the Nancy Silverton cookbook and absolutely love it! There are so many interesting breads in there and I have enjoyed playing with the more hydrated sourdoughs that Silverton uses.

  6. This looks like the kind of bread that makes you grow big and strong. I keep seeing Barley Malt Syrup pop up in recipes lately, so I’ll really have to go and hunt some down in the stores.

    Thanks for the recipe!


  7. This is a grand looking bread. This would be wonderful to serve with cheese and a thick peasant soup!

  8. I couldn’t agree with you more when it comes to sourdough. A simple loaf is almost beyond explanation. It’s more of an experience! Food at it’s best! Love it and the loaf looks beautiful!

  9. The crumb looks amazing as always, especially considering that it’s whole wheat. I’m always impressed with each of your posts.

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