The Approachable Loaf #BBB

Edison hard white wheat is my current favorite grain/flour for bread baking.  I have used it in many loaves, including a 100% whole wheat, fresh ground sandwich loaf.  Edison wheat was developed by a local cereal breeder and tested in the WSU Mount Vernon growing plots.  It is a great performer for our northwest climate, has wonderful flavor and functional properties, and is a great way to try out increasing whole grain portions.  I have always preferred the hard white wheat for a milder flavor profile, although I have learned to like red fife as well.

So for this month's bake, I am sharing an easy recipe that was developed right here in my region by the WSU Bread Lab: the Approachable Loaf.  (Their whole wheat and rye chocolate chip cookies are phenomenal too.)  It includes both a levain and a bit of yeast to boost the final bake.  The resulting loaf was lovely, a great flavor and texture.  Here is what they have to say about the approachable loaf:

Bread is a staple. People have been eating it for thousands of years.

Yet, there are breads that are expensive and inaccessible for many people. Huge, round crusty loaves that do not resemble what we might want in our school lunches or on our dinner tables.

Other breads are widely available but lack nutrition and can somehow sit on a grocery store shelf for months.

We wanted a bread that is approachable, accessible and affordable. With no stabilizers or conditioners in it.

The Approachable Loaf is tin-baked and sliced, contains no more than seven ingredients and no non-food. It is at least 60-100% whole wheat and priced under $8/loaf depending on regionality.

Oh, and it tastes really good too.

Of course I was a doofenshmirtz and absentmindedly used all the levain instead of the 80g I needed for one loaf.** So I ended up having to add another ~50g flour to offset the change in hydration. Still, it was a really nice dough to work with and watch it build up. There is a noticeable change in texture and cohesion when the final water is worked in and the gluten reaches perfect development.* The original recipe makes enough to bake two large 1kg loaves, each baked in a 9x5" pan. I prefer an 8x4" loaf and divided the recipe into thirds to make a more manageable size.

We would love to have you try out this easy loaf with us this month and share how it turned out and what you thought!  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.  If you would like to post your results with a Buddy badge on a blog, let us know in the comments or on the Facebook page. 

* It will make a large difference in the ease of building this dough to remember to not add all the liquid at once!  Hold back 10% or more of the water and work the dough well before adding it in.  This is true for all higher hydration dough from lean whole grain to highly enriched pannetone.

** Updating the recipe to include all the levain and a balancing amount of flour to yield a better loaf size for the pan!  Good suggestion, Elle!

Note: fresh ground flour has all the bran and endosperm and therefore absorbs more moisture than pre-ground flour.  You may need more flour to get the perfect dough consistency when using store bought flour.
The Approachable Loaf
from the WSU bread lab

60g flour ~½ cup (I used all purpose)
60g water~½ cup + 1 tsp
2g sourdough starter  ~¾ tsp (Elle made hers with a levain, no sourdough, check it out!)

Final dough:
340g white whole wheat flour ~2¼ cups (I used fresh ground Edison and reground the sifted bran a few times)
247g water ~1 cup + 1 tbsp + 1¾ tsp
7g sea salt ~1 tsp sea salt
2.4g yeast ~¾ tsp + tiny pinch
23g honey ~ 1 tbsp
17g olive oil ~1tbsp + 1 tsp
All the levain


The night before baking, mix levain ingredients until well incorporated. Cover and let rest 12-15 hours at room temperature.  You will have more than is required for the final dough.

Flexible timing, this was close to 18 hours in warm weather.

Final Dough:

Add all ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer, holding back about 10% water.  Mix on low for a few minutes to combine.  Increase speed to medium low and knead until the gluten begins to develop some stretch, about 5 minutes.  Slowly add in the remaining water and knead for another 5 minutes until the dough is well developed.

 Let the dough proof for about 90 minutes, folding after 45 minutes by bringing up the sides to the center all the way around.    

After folding.

After initial rise.

 Shape into a loaf and place in a greased 8x4" loaf pan.

Let rise for 60-90 minutes until the dough has doubled and/or risen above the edge of the pan by about ¾-1".

Score if desired.

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Load the bread and reduce the temperature to 375°F.  Bake for 40-45 minutes. (If browning too quickly, lower to 350°F.)

Remove to wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan to finish cooling.  Slice when completely cool.

 The rest of the Bread Baking Babes


Great fresh, great toasted!


  1. I am so jealous of the loft you achieved with all whole wheat. Gorgeous.

    1. I really want to do some testing now with flours, hydration, and time kneading...

  2. Your 100% whole wheat loaf does look gorgeous! I love the browning. I'll take that slice with butter, please.

    1. I do brush the hot loaf with butter straight out of the oven! It does help accentuate the color of the crust.

  3. I so wanted to get the loft you got, Kelly! Your bread looks perfect!

    1. Is "approachable" a subjective term in this case? LOL! I think you got a great open crumb, but brick shaped loaves do tend to leave you wanting more loft, I agree. I've had my share for sure!!

    2. Hmmm, I'm not quite sure how "approachable" can be subjective here. Unless flat can be considered as accessible. (After all, sandwiches made with flat bread would fit easily into a lunch box, wouldn't they?)

      I'm afraid that I've had more than my share of flat whole wheat loaves. But, thinking about it, I do remember getting a wonderfully lofty loaf when using relatively freshly milled Red Fife Flour given to us by our sheep farming friends north of the city. When I made 100% whole grain bread with their flour, it had been milled about 2 days previously. The bread was free-form, rather than baked in a tin. (I must say that I'm now much more comfortable shaping boules than standard long loaves.) But there really must be something to using freshly milled flour over commercial flour that was milled who knows when.

  4. Kelly, thanks so much for this recipe...I plan on baking it often. I do think that adding the 'extra' levain and more flour would work better for this size loaf pan...allowing it to fill and the top to rise over the pan a bit more. Otherwise, love it. I didn't have starter, so I made a similar levain with dry yeast and it worked well.

    1. You are probably right, the half recipe would be too large, but the third is just pushing a bit too small. I might update to include all the levain plus the extra 50g flour I used because I did it that way. So pleased your yeast started levain worked so well!

    2. I followed your advice, Kelly, and I used all the levain plus an extra 50g flour in the dough. It just seemed like less work than putting extra levain back into the fridge. But I'm wondering if the bread tin I used was a little large (did I measure the tin?? Of course not. That would be too clever) and that's one of the reasons my loaf over-rose. I was waiting for it to go higher than the top rim. Duh....

  5. I love a simple bread - my sandwich bread is much the same.


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