Vital Wheat Gluten (VWG) is protein which is extracted from wheat and sold separately to be added to low protein flours to increase the protein content. So if you add VWG to all-purpose flour you can make your own bread flour. Whole wheat flour is very low in gluten/ wheat protein which is extremely important in bread as it gives bread its characteristic texture/ chewiness and rise. So many bakers tend to add a little VWG to whole wheat flour especially when baking 100% whole wheat breads.
You can make this bread without VWG as the Soaker, the Biga/ Sponge and the honey and milk are all supposed to make it soft and give it a really good texture. I have made it both with and without and while adding a little bit of VWG does make for a slightly higher and softer bread, the one without is also pretty good. If using VWG, the rule of the thumb measurement in most cases is suggested as 1 tbsp of VWG for every 2 to 3 cups. Remember to put the VGW in the measuring cup and then top up with whole wheat flour.
Now make the Biga/ Sponge. Mix all of the Biga/ Sponge in a bowl and knead together well till a soft ball forms. Again you might need more than the originally suggested 3/4 cup of liquid; I needed a little more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. This will keep for up to 3 days.
Two hours before you plan to mix your dough for the bread, remove the Biga from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. You might find your Biga rising a little during this time.
Divide the Biga and Soaker into small pieces (about 12 pieces each) using a sharp knife or scraper and put them in the food processor bowl (or stand mixer). You can knead this by hand too, but the dough will be tacky and a little difficult to manage. Do not be tempted to add more flour, when it is time to, than necessary.
Add the remaining ingredients for the dough, except the 1/3 cup flour) and knead for about 3 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then add as much flour as needed (if necessary) to the dough and knead for another 3-4 minutes. Your dough should now come away from the sides of the bowl but still be a little sticky but somewhat manageable. It’s really important to not add too much extra flour during this step.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let rise until almost doubled (about 1 1/2 hours). Then turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat the dough out into a rectangle with a width that just a bit less than your loaf tin. See that you do not tear the dough. Roll it up and shape into a loaf ( see the video, if you need it ).
Place your loaf in a greased and floured loaf tin (I used a 9” by 4” loaf tin) and let it rise until it is just higher than your loaf tin. Bake the loaf at 180C (350F) for about 40 to 45 minutes until the top is a nice deep brown colour and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Let the loaf cool completely (at least for about 2 hours), before slicing it. Refrigerate the loaf if not consuming immediately.