100% Whole Wheat no VWG Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread 3.0

100% Whole Wheat no VWG Sourdough Hokkaido Milk Bread 3.0

I am presenting this bake of my 3.0 version of this bread to show how it does without any added VWG.  As I suspected the VWG really helps with getting the super tall loaf that I love seeing.  Without the VWG, the loaf is a normal profile, neither tall nor short.  I’m not mad at it.  It’s good to know that VWG isn’t absolutely required.


For 9 x 4 x 4 “ pan


Overnight Stiff Sweet Levain fermented at 76-78°F 

14 g starter + 14 g brown sugar + 18 g water + 41 g whole wheat


Tangzhong prepared the night before and refrigerated 

28 g whole wheat + 142 g milk


Final Dough

184 g milk (reduce to 174 g if not using VWG) + 1 large egg (53 g) + 24 g sugar + 5.56 g salt + all Tangzhong 

+ all Stiff Sweet Levain + 331 g whole wheat flour + 7.08 g vital wheat gluten (optional) + 1.91 g diastatic malt (optional)

+ 52 g butter


Pre-bake Wash 

• 1 egg beaten

• 1 Tbsp milk


Post-bake Wash 

• 1 Tbsp butter (optional)




Mix the levain ingredients in a jar or pyrex container with space for at least 300% growth. 

Press down with your knuckles or silicone spatula to create a uniform surface and to push out air.

At a temperature of 76ºF, it typically takes up to 10-12 hours for this sweet stiff levain to be at peak.  For my starter I typically see 3-3.5 times increase in size at peak.  The levain will smell sweet with only a mild tang.


In a sauce pan set on medium heat, stir the milk and flour until blended. Then cook for several minutes until well thickened, stirring regularly with a spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Let cool in the pan or, for faster results, in a new bowl.  Theoretically it should reach 65ºC (149ºF) but I don’t find I need to measure the temperature as the tangzhong gelatinizes at this temperature.  You can prepare this the night before and refrigerate it, ensure that it is covered to prevent it from drying out.



In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk (consider holding back 10 g of milk and adding later if this is the first time you’re making this), egg, tangzhong, salt, sugar, diastatic malt and levain.  Mix and then break up the levain into many smaller pieces.  Next add the flour and vital wheat gluten.  I like to use my spatula to mix until there aren’t many dry areas.  Allow the flour to hydrate (fermentolyse) for 20-30 minutes.  Mix on low speed and then medium speed until moderate gluten development this may take 5-10 mins.  You may want to scrape the sides of the bowl during the first 5 minutes of mixing.  Next drizzle in the melted butter a little at a time, or alternatively add room temperature butter one pat at a time.  Slow the mixer down to avoid splashing the butter at you. The dough may come apart, be patient, continue to mix until it comes together before drizzling or adding in more butter.  Once all the butter has been added and incorporated increase the speed gradually to medium.  Mix at medium speed until the gluten is well developed, approximately 10 mins.  You will want to check gluten development by windowpane during this time and stop mixing when you get a good windowpane.  You should be able to pull a good windowpane, not quite as good as a white flour because the bran will interrupt the windowpane somewhat.  This is a good time to add inclusions such as my favorite black sesame seeds, that way they do not interfere with the gluten development.  If you add inclusions mix until they are well incorporated in the dough.


On the counter, shape the dough into a tight ball, cover in the bowl and ferment for 2.5-3.5 hours at 82ºF.  There may be some rise visible at this stage.


You can next place the dough into the fridge to chill the dough for about 1.5 hours, this makes rolling the dough easier to shape.  Remember, if you do so the final proof will take longer.  Alternatively, you can do a cold retard in the fridge overnight, however, you may find that this increases the tang in your bread.


Prepare your pans by greasing them or line with parchment paper.  


Lightly flour the top of the dough. Scrape the dough out onto a clean counter top and divide it into four. I like to weigh them to have equal sized lobes. Shape each tightly into a boule, allow to rest 5 mins. Using a rolling pin roll each ball out and then letterfold. Turn 90* and using a rolling pin roll each out to at least 8”. Letterfold again from the sides so you have a long narrow dough. Then using a rolling pin, roll flatter but keeping the dough relatively narrow.  The reason to do this extra letterfold is that the shorter fatter rolls when placed in the pan will not touch the sides of the pan.  This allows the swirled ends to rise during final proof, this is only done for appearance sake and is not necessary.  Next roll each into a tight roll with some tension. Arrange the rolls of dough inside your lined pan alternating the direction of the swirls. This should allow a greater rise during proof and in the oven.


Cover and let proof for 6-8 hours at a warm temperature.  I proof at 82°F.  You will need longer than 6-8 hours if you chilled your dough for shaping. I proof until the top of the dough comes to within 1 cm of the top edge of the pan.


Preheat the oven to 350F and brush the dough with the egg-milk wash.  Just prior to baking brush with the egg-milk wash again.


Bake the loaves for 50 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 190ºF, rotating as needed to get even browning. Shield your loaf if it gets brown early in the baking process. After 50 mins remove the bread from the pan and bake a further 10 mins by placing the loaf directly in the oven on the rack with the oven turned down to 325ºF. You can brush the top of the loaf with butter if you wish at this point while the bread is still hot to keep the top crust soft.


This next one is for comparison, this one used the VWG.  There is quite a difference between the two and the only difference is the 7.07g of VWG.  So if you want a really tall loaf, use the VWG with this small amount you cannot taste it.  However, you can easily see the difference it makes.