How to Make Italian Whole Wheat Bread
For the Sponge:
2 1/4 tablespoons active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
For the Dough:
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus extra for kneading
1 teaspoon oil, for greasing plastic wrap
1. If making 1 loaf, prepare 1 baking sheet by lining it with silicone mats or parchment paper and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of semolina over the top. If making 2 loaves, prepare 2 baking sheets in the same manner.
2. To make the sponge, place 1 3/4 cup tepid water in a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over the water and stir until dissolved. Set aside and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the whole wheat pastry flour and bread flour. Whisk well to combine and form a smooth batter like consistency.
4. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours or store overnight in the refrigerator.
5. To make the dough, place sponge in a heavy - duty electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the salt and 1/2 cup of the flour and mix to combine. Beat on high speed for one minute. With mixer running on low speed, add in the rest of the flour and mix until a dough forms.
6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead energetically for approximately 10 minutes to create a soft, slightly sticky dough. If dough is too sticky to work with, gradually add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, and continue kneading until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
7. Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
8. After dough has rested, divide it in half to make 2 smaller loaves or keep it whole for 1 large loaf. To shape the dough, roll it into 2 small or 1 large ball and place on prepared baking sheets.
9. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until tripled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.
10. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 425F degrees. Unwrap loaves and make crosses on the top. Bake on the lowest rack of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. Cool on wire racks.