Whole Wheat Buttermilk Bread

January  4, 2016
3 Ratings
Photo by Rebecca Zicarelli
  • Makes 2 loaves
Author Notes

This a my favorite variation of Ken Forkish's no-knead breads from "Flour Water Salt Yeast," a combination of the "Harvest Bread with Poolish" and "Overnight 40% Whole-wheat Bread" recipes with my own twists -- a bit of rye flour, some buttermilk, and a hint of maple. This bread is delicious.

Make the Poolish the night before, and finish the bread through the day. —Rebecca Zicarelli

What You'll Need
  • Poolish
  • 500 grams bread flour
  • 1/4 scant teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 350 grams water, tepid
  • 150 grams buttermilk
  • Dough
  • poolish from the night before
  • 300 grams whole wheat flour
  • 100 grams rye flour
  • 100 grams bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon maple sugar (or a tablespoon of maple syrup)
  • 21 grams salt
  • 1 scant teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 300 grams warm water, at about 100 to 108℉.
  1. Poolish
  2. Mix the 500g of bread flour with the 1/4 teaspoon of active-dry yeast in a 4 to 6 qt. bowl or dough bucket. Add the 500g of tepid water and buttermilk, and mix with a wooden spoon or your hand to combine. If using a bowl, cover with a damp towel and then a pot lid that lies flat on the top.
  3. Put the poolish in a place where the temperature will stay relatively even overnight to ferment -- I put mine in the oven, so long as it's not hot. Give it between 12 and 14 hours to ferment.
  1. Dough
  2. pour 2/3 (give or take) of the water around the poolish to loosen it from the sides of its proofing container. Dissolve the yeast in the remainder of the water.
  3. Combine the 300g of whole-wheat flour, 100g of rye flour, 100g of bread flour, 1 Tbsp. of maple sugar, and 21g. of salt into a large bread bowl or 12-qt. dough bucket. Combine. Add the poolish and water with the remaining yeast dissolved in it to the flour mixture. Mix with your hand, moistened with cold water and re-wetting it as necessary, folding and pinching the dough until it's evenly mixed.
  4. Let rise at room temperature for one hour, folding the dough every 20 min. by reading under it with your hand or a rubber spatula dipped into cold water, stretching one side of the dough up and over into the middle. Turn and repeat three more times for each fold. The long slow fermenting of the poolish and the folding are what develops the gluten in this bread.
  5. Let the bread rise until nearly trippled, about 2 to 3 more hours. Pour the dough out onto a floured board, divide into two, and fold each dough one more time, turn over and round the top to make a taught skin. Let the dough balls rest while you flour two bannetons (dough baskets) or bowls, and place the bread into the bannetons or bowls, seam-side down. Cover each with a plastic bag to keep the dough hydrated, and let rise until nearly tripled, about 2 to 2.5 hours.
  6. After 2 hours or rising time, preheat the oven to 425℉, placing two 4 to 7 qt. dutch ovens (or other large, heavy pots with tight-fitting heat-safe lids) in the oven. When the bread is fully risen -- a finger poked into it will leave an indentation, carefully turn the loaves out onto a lightly-floured board and then place them in the pre-heated dutch ovens, taking care not to burn yourself as you do this. Bake with the cover on for 30 min. Remove the covers and bake for an additional 25 min.
  7. Remove from pans and let cool at least one hour before slicing. Let bread cool completely, and than store in bread bags to maintain freshness.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Julie
  • Rebecca Zicarelli
    Rebecca Zicarelli

3 Reviews

Julie July 14, 2016
Something is desperately wrong with this recipe. There is way too little flour in proportion to the liquid.
Rebecca Z. July 14, 2016
It's a slack dough; similar proportions are used for Ciabatta and most dutch-oven recipes. This is 65% hydration; many such recipes are much higher.
Rebecca Z. July 14, 2016
I'm sorry, a correction to my comment; this recipe is at 80% hydration; still within the bounds of a slack dough given lots of time to develop.

It is best to handle it hands wetted in cold water. But the bread in the photo was made using these proportions.