I'm going to be teaching a friend how to bake bread. She has never baked bread or had any experience with a bread-like dough. Since it'll be a one-day thing, it won't use sourdough as I'm used to doing since I want her to learn from start to finish and take the loaf home. All yeast recipes I see online are for enriched whole wheat bread. I have no experience baking a whole grain bread with yeast, but here's what I typically do with sourdough (I do not include starter ingredients in my 100%): hydration: 80-83% salt: 2% starter: 15-20%

For a dough with 80% home-milled whole wheat flour (of the 80%, I might use a small percentage of whole grain spelt and rye, maybe 8% each) and 20% bread flour, I have the following questions:

  • is 80% a good hydration level? (I want a dough that will be easy to work with)
  • should I do an autolyse?
  • how do I determine the percentage of dry active or instant yeast (I have both)?
  • do I ferment and proof until double the size (I do much less for sourdough)?
  • why do some recipes say to "punch down" the dough after the first rise? This is not typically done with sourdough. Thank you.
  • If I were doing it, I’d probably make some dough before I got there, so while you’re waiting for the dough to rise that you made that day, you also have some to work with and bake.
    – Joe
    Apr 18, 2022 at 12:40
  • 3
    "I have no experience baking a whole grain bread with yeast" -- if you're teaching a student, you need to do one of these on your own first. Maybe more than one.
    – FuzzyChef
    Apr 18, 2022 at 17:37
  • Also, maybe get a baking book with solid recipes, instead of relying on what you can find online. Peter Reinhart is good, as is King Arthur.
    – FuzzyChef
    Apr 18, 2022 at 17:39
  • 80% hydration is very high, and will be hard to shape. I'd suggest 65%.
    – GdD
    Apr 18, 2022 at 20:44
  • I've baked challah with yeast, and I'm confident enough in my basic bread baking skills, even though sourdough, that I'll be able to carry this out. This is a casual lesson. I want to teach her about bakers percentages especially since she'll probably eventually move on to sourdough so I want to do a simple 4-ingredient method.
    – Arlo
    Apr 18, 2022 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


Your plans sound pretty good to me. I'd treat yeasted breads almost exactly the same as sourdough. The only real difference is the proofing time. The only negative I would say is that whole grain breads really do need a long fermentation to help improve their flavour, and I find if you don't do that, then the bread tends to taste a bit like a field of wheat, and a bit grassy. You can perhaps add a teaspoon of malt extract to dissolve in the water to help improve the flavour. Otherwise it might be better to go with a predominantly white flour mix, and only use a small amount of whole grain flour, maybe like 30%.

It is possible to do a long ferment with yeast, you just start with much less yeast - like only pinch, and leave overnight, but obviously you don't have time for that. Other possibilities are to use some of the flour to make a pre-ferment such as a poolish/biga, and use this as you would use a sourdough starter. But again, these are usually done overnight - of course you could prepare it in advance.

Anyway, to address your points . . .

  1. Yes, sounds like a good idea. 80% hydration will be easier to handle

  2. Yes, do an autolyse. It will help hydrate the flour, just as it does with sourdough.

  3. Use 1% to 1.5% active/instant dry yeast. Makes no difference which kind of dried yeast you use. If you use active yeast, add it to warm water to dissolve and let it activate for around 10 minutes before adding to the flour. Instant yeast can be added directly into the flour.

  4. Whole grain doughs don't rise as much as white flour. I wouldn't expect it to double in size, so again just as you would normally with sourdough. It will likely be fully risen within 1 to 2 hours, depending on how warm your room is and how much yeast you added.

  5. Usually punching down is for very gassy/bubbly doughs. You likely won't need to do that with a whole grain dough. It doesn't rise as much, and you probably want to retain as much gas as possible - same as with a sourdough.

  • Thanks for the answer. I plan on explaining to her that we will be sacrificing flavor by doing a short fermantation with no preferment. I think it'll be a good lesson. For the autolyse, when do you suggest adding the yeast? As I said, I can use either dry active or instant. Usually autolyse is without leavening. I tend to let my doughs rise about 70%, mainly out of fear of overfermenting! From what you're saying, I think I should probably stick with that.
    – Arlo
    Apr 18, 2022 at 23:11
  • Just do the autolyse the same as with a sourdough, you can't go wrong really. Yes, you can add the yeast later, but be sure to reserve a little water if you are using active yeast so you can activate it.
    – Billy Kerr
    Apr 19, 2022 at 9:37

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