If you don’t know anything about Flour Water Salt Yeast (FWSY) yet, you definitely will by the time you finish reading this post. If you do know FWSY, skip to the next paragraph. FWSY is a legendary book by Ken Forkish that uses age-old baking fundamentals and techniques without any fancy equipment. I believe this book is now the cornerstone of artisan bread and pizza making today, and anyone even remotely interested in baking should own a copy. Now that my fanboy piece is out of the way, let’s dive right into testing out one of Ken’s recipes from the book, but with a twist: a 75% whole wheat honey (the honey is the twist!) levain bread.
FWSY 75% Whole Wheat Levain Bread at a Glance
Before I tell you my experiences with this recipe and how it turned out, let’s take a quick look at the ingredients and basic steps involved. It’s broken into two main pieces: the levain and the final dough.
|Mature starter||100 g (1/3 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp)|
|White flour||400 g (3 cups + 2 tbsp)|
|Whole wheat flour||100 g (3/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp)|
|Water||400 g (1 3/4 cup) at 85F-90F|
|White flour||90 g (1/2 cups + 3 tbsp)|
|Whole wheat flour||710 g (5 1/2 cups + 1/2 tbsp)|
|Water||660 g (2 7/8 cups) at 90F-95F|
|Salt||21 g (1 tbsp + 1 scant tsp)|
|Instant dried yeast||1.75 g (scant 1/2 tsp)|
|Levain (from earlier)||360 g (1 1/3 cups)|
Since this recipe uses so much whole wheat flour, the amount of yeast needed is quite a bit lower than you might initially expect. This is because whole wheat and rye flours have a lot more nutrients in them for the yeast to flourish than white flours, and is usually the reason people recommend feeding sourdough starters with 50/50 rye/all purpose flour.
Ken put forth a pretty nice baking schedule with this recipe that is easy to follow and is perfect for a saturday morning bake. The steps go as follows:
- Feed your starter/levain at 8am (discard all but 100g, then add the ingredients labeled “Starter” above)
- Mix the final dough at 3pm and bulk ferment for 5 hours
- Shape into two loaves at 8pm
- Proof the loaves for 12-13 hours overnight
- Bake between 8am – 9am the next morning
When mixing the final dough, I also added 2-3 tbsp of honey and mixed thoroughly. After the 12 hour proofing in a Bread Boss basket, I baked the loaf per Ken’s guidelines (which are the same for all of his recipes): preheat a dutch oven to 475F for 30-45 minutes, carefully add dough and cover, bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for 15-20 minutes more.
The results were spectacular. I loved the addition of the honey to accompany the nutty flavors of the whole wheat. My daughter enjoyed it as peanut butter toast for the next few mornings until nothing but a few crumbs were left on the counter.