The Fresh Loaf

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Whole Wheat Bread

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permafrost's picture
permafrost

Whole Wheat Bread

I've been making a fool-proof batter bread for about a year now for all of my family's sandwich bread needs.  the basice recipe requires 4 cups of flour per loaf and I use all different proportions of AP to Whole Wheat flour. Recently I decided to use half the water and make a regular ddough bread (sorry, kind of a newbie, don't have all the right terminology yet).  It was going fine, until about a month ago, my bread refuses to rise when I try to make 100% whole wheat or 75% whole wheat (I haven't tried any other proportions because I want the bread to be mostly whole wheat).  I can leave it at room temp or put it in the fridge overnight: it will not double.  It will rise a tiny bit or not at all and smell like alcohol. It barely rises while baking either. My first two unsuccessful batches were incredibly salty and alcohol-tasting and inedible.  Now they are edible, but flat

In this same time period, I have successfully made sticky buns, ciabatta, focaccia as well as cakes and quick breads.  These were usually 100% AP flour or 25% whole wheat.  The only thing I've done differently recently is used a differnt brand of Whole Wheat flour: Bob's Red Mill.  Before that I would use King Arthur, Gold Medal, different store brands, etc. but I started buying the BRM 25lb.-bag at Costco because I make A LOT more bread now. 

My basic recipe is this: 
4 cups flour (combo of AP and/or WW flours)
1 to 1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp salt
5 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp flax seeds 
I mix together everything but the water; then add the water and knead for 5-10 minutes (difficult because it's a sticky dough).  TRY to rise for an hour, put it in the pan, TRY to rise for 30-60 min, bake at 400F for 30 minutes.  

My batter bread recipe looked like this:
4 cups flour (combo of AP and/or WW flours)
2 to 2 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp salt
5 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp flax seeds  
Mix it all together, let it bubble for 60 minutes, stir down and pour into pan, let rest for 10 minutes, bake at 400F for 30 minutes.

Sorry this is so long, but I really want to know what went wrong: too much salt? too much sugar? too much or too little yeast? water?  wrong technique?
I would appreciate any feedback, thank you! 

 

 

sgregory's picture
sgregory

I would try to switch your WW flour back to some stuff you used before.  The bran may not be softening enough to allow the gluten structure to develop.  As a result the bread never leavens properly. 

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... is your problem, I think. You say:

Recently I decided to use half the water and make a regular ddough bread (sorry, kind of a newbie, don't have all the right terminology yet).  It was going fine, until about a month ago, my bread refuses to rise when I try to make 100% whole wheat or 75% whole wheat (I haven't tried any other proportions because I want the bread to be mostly whole wheat).

(The bold script is mine btw). So if I understand you, you have halved the water, but when using 100% -75% wholewheat - the bread fails. Wholewheat flour is thirsty. Far thirstier than white AP. So when increasing the percentage of wholewheat in the dough, you should INCREASE the water allowance, not halve it. By halving the water you've gone in the wrong direction.  The dough is then way too dry and the gluten can't develop properly as a result. Hence very little rise.

I would be looking to increase the percentage of hydration (water) to 75% + if using 75%-100% wholewheat in my recipe.

The alcohol smell could be a result of overproofing too. Wholewheat is not only thirstier than white flour, it also ferments faster. You may need to reduce your bulk ferment and final proofing times. Once properly hydrated, the dough will be your guide.

Lastly, yes, it could be your flour, but I would address the other issues first and see how things go with a higher hydration and possibly shorter fermentation.

All at Sea

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

The answer is still to add more water and let it soak for a while before kneading, as you say, but the OP was decreasing the water from a batter bread in order to make a dough bread.  The water used should still be less than for the batter bread, just not halved.

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... I meant when increasing the proportion of wholewheat in a recipe you need to increase the hydration - halving it was going too far in the direction of reducing the water content.

All at Sea

 

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I just thought you had missed the part about the original recipe being batter bread.  *smile*

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I recently made batter breads and it was an interesting experience. The texture is different and the mechanics of it are different than a kneaded loaf. A batter bread is not quite so dependent on developing a tough gluten structure but has plenty of starchy matrix to trap the bubbles instead. All is not lost.

To go from a batter bread to a dough bread you do have to reduce the liquid-just not quite as much as you have been.It will also depend on the flour mix (WW/AP) that you use. A description may help. With a high percentage of whole wheat, at the end of the initial mix, when the dough is quite shaggy,you want a sticky dough that will stick to your hands and fingers a lot but not be dripping or soggy. At this stage, let it sit for 30 minutes then come back and it will be more like a tacky dough and not quite stick to you. At this stage, if it is too wet, add a LITTLE AP flour. You want a WW dough to be wetter,overall, than a AP dough. I would describe it as tacky to almost sticky.

TACKY means when a dry finger touches it, it comes away with NO dough stuck to it-like a postit note

STICKY means a dry finger will come away with a slight amount of dough or dampness (slightly sticky) to a large amount (sticky) of dough on the finger.

 To go from an AP flour to a WW flour, you need to build in time to allow the WW to absorb the water AND you have to encourage it to release its starch and develop a strong gluten network. This means a higher amount of water than an AP flour would want but also time to absorb that before the yeast eats everything and starts starving (the alcohol smell and dense dough).So after the dough rested for 30 minutes-either stretch and fold(use search box) or knead until you have a good gluten development-Good gluten development means the dough resists stretching. It feels elastic and a finger poked into the dough 1/2 inch instantly bounces back to competely fill in. NOW rise to double,deflate gently,shape and pan. Rise to 3/4 double. When it is properly proofed another finger poke will tell you that- (see "finger poke clazar123" in search box.)

Take good notes so you can duplicate what you did whether it turns out or not. Thomas Edison discovered 999 ways NOT to make a light bulb before he was successful. It won't take that long to go from batter bread to dough bread. After all, you have ALL the Fresh Loafers that have gone before you to ask questions of.

Have delicious fun!

 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

All at Sea, I believe we said the same thing-I just go into great detail-often much to the reader's dismay. I do work on succintness but often don't achieve it.

Sparkling waters,steady breeze and sunshine to you!

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... now you've got me lost for words entirely ... but thank you!

All at Sea

 

permafrost's picture
permafrost

Thank you so much everyone, for youur thoroughand prompt responses!  I think I know what to do now: more water than what i've been using, short rest before rising, shorter rising time; or just go back to the batter bread ;)  

Thanks!
 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

I can't help adding a recommendation not 100% related to your question because AAS and C123 have pretty much diagnosed your 'problem' and given great solutions.

I bake using 100% whole grains and Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads totally revolutionized my way of baking bread.  If you can get a copy from your local library you might like to check it out.  All the ways it helped me are too numerous to mention but I will mention one because it does pertain to your post. His book gave me solutions to issues I was having.  I now know how to resolve almost any problem I run across in my breads.

Take Care,

Janet

benchwarmer's picture
benchwarmer

Hi: Now that's interesting...I, too, switched to Bob's Red Mill whole wheat flour that I got at CostCo (for the same reasons) and my bread has frustrated me ever since. Mad as a hornet! Now I've got 25 lbs. in my food storage and half a bucket in the kitchen. Awesome. I want as close to 100% whole wheat since that's what my husband likes...o.k. by me. I put dry milk in mine and before Bob's it was fine. Now nothing seems to work including adding vital wheat gluten. I'm heading off to buy a different flour and see what happens, or, maybe I'll try clazar123's suggestion above. ADD & impatience, or work with "Bob's"...stay tuned.