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100% lean whole-grain bread, a question

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Juergen's picture
Juergen

100% lean whole-grain bread, a question

I am planning to make my first ever 100% whole-wheat loaf this weekend. Since I have never attempted to make a 100% ww loaf, I guess I'll be up for a challenge. I am planning to make a loaf from just ww-flour, water, salt and yeast. What I am striving for is to make a loaf with as much as 60% of the dough pre-fermented in the form of a pate fermentee. The baker's formula I've come up with is:

WW-flour 100%

Water 70%

Salt 2%

Yeast 2%

So basically it's very simple, 60% of the formula will be the pate fermentee and the rest will be the 'final' dough. 

I've kept the water ratio rather high since ww-flour tends to absorb more water. 

Do you guys think this can be a succes and do you have any other general tips or tricks with regard to this 'project'??

 

varda's picture
varda

seems to help.    Good luck.   -Varda

Aideuis's picture
Aideuis

I would suggest increasing your hydration.  The last WW that I made I used a formula that I am very familiar with as a white bread at 68%.  The whole wheat version ended up being over 80% before the dough felt right.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

The hydration really depends a lot on the flour, and I've found there's a lot of variation in how much water different whole wheat flours will absorb. With fresh whole wheat flour, I usually stick to 70-72% hydration, but with store-bought whole grain flours, I'll go higher, though not quite as high as 80%. Go by feel. You want it to be very tacky, but not sticky-gloopy, if that makes any sense at all.

60% pre-ferment seems high to me, but I've never tried it. Peter Reinhart's whole grain breads (you may already know this and, if so, just ignore me) are about 45% soaker and 40-45% pre-ferment, though, and they're great. I'd be concerned about getting enough rise with that much pre-ferment. But, heck, it's worth a try to see what happens. Good luck!

golgi70's picture
golgi70

I agree with previous poster that the hydration should be higher.  I also agree that it varies on the wheat you use.  I'd suggest starting at 75%.  Then go by  feel.   I also take advantage of Vital Wheat Gluten with this type of bread.  I'd say my hydration is around 78% or so (including the water weight in honey)  No mine is not lean it has some oil and honey it.   Oh and might I suggest soaking your wheat overnight before you mix.  Helps develop much better gluten structure.  

Happy Baking

Josh

Juergen's picture
Juergen

Thanks! This is all really helpful. I'll definitely up the water ratio at least.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Juergen,

some good advice here already, but I want to add a qualifier if I may.

I would definitely agree with JMonkey that 60% of the flour used in Pate Fermentee is high; 50% would be my maximum.   Reinhart's Wholegrains Book was revlutionary whern it came out, and his ideas to use a pre-ferment and a soaker as high amounts in the formula are fantastic...highly recommend you look at that.

Yes, I would up the hydration ...but not as much as some on here advise.   I note you are based in NL, not in N. America.   I'm in UK; I suspect our shop bought wholemeal will absorb slightly less water.   I always take 72% as a baseline, and use autolyse.   I very rarely have to add any more water later on in the mixing cycle.   Remember, if you add too much...you can't take it out later!

Best wishes

Andy

Juergen's picture
Juergen

Hi Andy,

Thanks for your advice. I am not familiar with North American wholemeal but the wholemeal I use, is indeed ordinary supermarket stuff and I guess it could well be very similar to the meal available in the UK (as far as I know, a lots of wheat for the Nort-western European market comes from Poland anyway). 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Juergen,

Most UK bread flour is actually home-produced.   The best quality ones have some Canadian wheat mixed in.

The American hard wheats absorb more water than European wheat which grows in a different climate.   I suspect the main Dutch sources will include Germany...and countries north and east, just as you indicate.   France also produces huge amounts of wheat, so it is quite likely some of this finds its way into Holland too.

Best wishes

Andy

ars pistorica's picture
ars pistorica

Northern European spring wheats (depending upon whether it is hard or soft), especially if whole-grain and preferably stone-ground, tolerate more water than people realise, especially when made with a reasonable amount of the total flour pre-fermented (<12.5%).  Try no autolyse to establish a baseline to understand the dough's normal fermentation tolerance.  I would increase salt as well, and use a formula closer to:

100% whole wheat, sifted if desired

80% water, ambient temperature

< 2.3% salt

> .33% yeast, instant-dried

 

ananda's picture
ananda

Some of us don't like salt at that level AP

Salt becomes too dominant in the flavour profile...and all the health advice is to use less salt rather than more.

This has to be balanced with the functional effects of salt in a formula.

And I still don't believe that European wheat absorbs as much water as the hard North American wheats, as a general rule.

Best wishes

Andy

ars pistorica's picture
ars pistorica

The suggested salt level is meant to establish a baseline to measure fermentation-tolerance of his or her flour, and is meant to inhibit the rate of fermentation toward a level commensurate with a normal white-flour straight-dough fermentation, as this seems the OP's main background experience. (I also cannot be bothered getting into the misunderstood debate on salt and health [there are a wide array of meta-studies on the subject], but I will say that a salt level up to 3% isn't uncommon in bread.)

You do not have to believe me about European spring wheats.  There's ample documented literature on the subject, as well as countless European bakers who use these sorts of hydrations (and not even for whole wheat doughs), sort of acting as proof-of-concept.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi AP,

If you fed me with bread at 3% salt level I'd spit it out!   However, I'm well aware of why you advised higher salt levels in respect of the fermentation process.   I'm actually not that hung up on cutting right down on salt either, although I'm happy to try to moderate intake and at least make some sort of effort so my bread will comply with impending UK legislation.

I gather that salt levels in UK bread have increased in the post War period...mainly because industrial bread is so bland that more salt was deemed necessary to give even a bit of flavour, and probably so the dough can be processed using bread plants.   Not that this is that relevant to the original post.

I'm not challenging your idea that we cannot make wet doughs with European flour.   I am suggesting that, as a general concept, North American hard wheat absorbs more water than European wheat.

Best wishes

Andy

dwfender's picture
dwfender

Not to downplay all the good advice above, BUT ... I say you're better of trying the recipe the way you think at least once. Make sure you way any extra water you add to adjust and add that to the recipe to get the percentage right.

The reason I say this is not to downplay the advice but everyone has different flour and different waters etc when baking. You never know how your version may come out and it just might turn out great.

I rarely go above 40 percent on preferments, but I have one recipe where I use 150 percent 18 hour preferment and the bread is incredible. 

You are better off trying it and posting results and we can all help you zero in on your goal! 

Juergen's picture
Juergen

I have decided not to go the 100% ww route just yet. I guess it's just too tricky for now. Since I am used to making loaves in a 'Pain de Campagne' style with 20% whole-wheat vs 80% white flour, I've taken that recipe as a baseline, upped the whole-wheat percentage to 50% and added a small percentage of soaked oat flakes just for the taste. The recipe contains exactly 1/3rd of pre-ferment in the form of a pate fermentee. Yesterday evening I made the pre-ferment and this afternoon I will make the bread. I hope it turns out as I expect! I will try and post some pics.

Thanks everyone for all the advice, it's highly appreciated!