Pane Integrale (Whole Wheat Bread)


In wanting to try to make as much of our own bread as possible, Joel ordered My Bread by Jim Lahey.  Two weeks ago, we made a loaf of bread to eat with brunch and it was quite possibly the best bread I had ever tasted.  Well, things got a little crazy between then and now, and with neither of us being home last week, our plans to make more bread were put on hold.  That was, until this last night.  Wednesday, Joel started to put together the dough for this whole wheat bread so that it would be ready in time for our dinner last night.  Good thing, too, because Thursday ended up being quite the busy day.  I had a community forum about the budget in my school district, and Joel's car ended up dying in the middle of a busy street in town.  Craziness ensued...Good thing we had this awesome loaf of bread dough waiting for us when we got home.  All we needed was a little bit of time to bake it off, which gave us the perfect opportunity to unwind with a glass of wine.  After these past 2 loaves of bread, I am quite positive that I will never buy a loaf from the store again!

2 1/4 cups Bread Flour
3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoon Yeast
1 1/3 cups Cool Water (55-65 degrees)
Wheat Bran, Cornmeal, or Flour for dusting

In a medium bowl, stir together flours, salt, and yeast.  Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds.  Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12-18 hours.  When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour.  Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece.  Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center.  Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.  Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust it with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour.  Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down.  If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with the wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour.  Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1-2 hours.  The dough is ready when it is almost doubled.  If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression.  If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.  Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees, with the rack positioned in the lower third, and place a covered 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.  Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it.  Unfold the tea towel and quickly, but gently, invert the dough into the pot, seam side up.  Use caution, the pot will be very hot!  Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15-30 more minutes.  Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.