In France a “Pain Complet” is almost what we would call a wholemeal loaf. However, the flour used is typically slightly more refined: often roller milled without the wheat germ, resulting in a bread with a rich dark crumb colour, but a rather lighter texture than our regular 100% wholemeal bread, yet maintaining a bold bran flavour. This means that if you want to add other ingredients like olives, fried shallots or walnuts, you’ll still get a good rise and delicate crumb without heaviness, especially with the fine, light texture of Foricher’s Organic Farine Complète t150 Brun de Plaisir flour.
Making a dough-like pre-ferment the day before baking gives it time to become fully active before mixing the dough. However, wholemeal-type flours generally produce a better shaped loaf if the final rise is then kept a bit shorter; over-extending the final rise, for example by doing it overnight in the fridge, will give a flatter result, particularly when baking without using a tin.
Makes one large loaf
About 12 hours before baking, mix together the ingredients for the overnight pre-ferment. Put the water in a mixing bowl, add the yeast and stir until dissolved, then stir in the flour and knead to a firm, smooth dough. Cover the bowl tightly and leave overnight to rise.
The following day make the final dough. Put the water and honey in a bowl, break up the overnight dough into small pieces, drop these into the water and rub them in well. Add the flour, mix to a soft, even dough, then leave for 10 minutes. This time allows the gluten to partially form, and if this happens before the salt (which has the effect of tightening the protein) is added, it’ll give the crumb a more open, lighter texture. Add the salt and mix well until you have a smooth, elastic and slightly sticky dough. Cover the bowl and leave for 1 hour to rise.
Lightly stretch and fold the dough, then leave for a further 30-60 minutes until the dough feels puffy. Shape the dough into a baton, place seam-side upward in a floured banneton and leave until risen by about half (not doubled).
Heat the oven to 220°C fan. Upturn the dough onto a lined tray (or into your Challenger Bread Pan), slash the top with a Grignette or Lame and bake for 40 minutes or until a rich dark colour.
Recipe by Dan Lepard