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Major Issues With Whole Wheat Loaves

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Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Major Issues With Whole Wheat Loaves

Ok, I have now baked my 5th whole wheat loaf FAIL in a row, and am more than frustrated.

Back story:

Before last weekend, I had not previously attempted baking any breads with a whole wheat content that passed maybe 20%.  Last weekend I attempted a formula similar this one from Phil - Sesame Wholewheat:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/33964/sesame-wholewheat-red-gum-miche-100-wholegrain-spelt

It turned out a disaster.  Dough felt nice and showed no signs of any issues after bulk ferment and shaping.  Felt very nice. After overnight retard in fridge, it looked like it flattened out quite a bit in the banneton.  The bake made a 'loaf' that was extremely flat, the scoring disappeared and turned into a flattened seamless line.  The crumb was exactly what one would expect from a flattened loaf - dense, no holes larger than a millimeter.  2 loaves in the trash.

This week, I picked up some good organic stone ground wholegrain whole wheat flour, along with high quality bread flour.  I thought this would help make a whole wheat loaf with better success.

WRONG!

This time I attempted a wholewheat loaf that was closer to a type of bread I have had great success with numerous times before.  The Tartine loaf but the Whole Wheat formula.  Again, the dough felt amazing after the bulk ferment and shaping.  Nice and billowy and shaped nice and tight with great gluten development.  I wish I had a photo of the shaped dough before and after the overnight fridge retarding.  The dough, just as last weekend, flattened out and spread out in the banneton.  I figured this may be ok, because the Tartine Country Formula dough kind of does the same thing after an overnight retarding.  I had 2 loaves ready to bake.  I baked the first one, and it turned out a flat mess.  I would even say worse than last weekend's fiasco.  I decided to test something out with the 2nd loaf.  I reshaped and proofed it for about 45 mins.  The reshaping felt nice...kept it's shape and felt nice and full.  Not what one would say over-proofed dough would feel like.  It felt just as nice as it did in the shaping the night before.  This one also turned out horrible!  It maybe rose an extra 2 cm from the first flat loaf, but still NOTHING close to a successful bake.  What is going on here??  Over-proofing?  If so, how is it over-proofing in the fridge??? Too much hydration causing spreading out?  If so, how come it doesn't have at least some larger holes???

The photos below are of the last loaf.  Please help.  I am so frustrated by this, especially as I am able to turn out decent loaves with most other formulas, but this whole wheat thing has got me back to the stages I was at when I first started baking with NO knowledge at all. I would like to note that I follow temperatures and procedure EXACTLY to what the formula calls for.  I measure the temp of the rooms for bulk ferments, etc.  Very particular.

 

And what it SHOULD look like.

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi John,

Sorry these wholewheat loaves are still causing you grief.

Here are some thoughts and questions ...

What temperature are you bulk fermenting and for how long? You may be over fermenting by retarding in the fridge.

If you are using the Tartine formula did you notice the text relating to using less leaven or cooler temperatures?

I am very hesitant to retard shaped wholewheat loaves ... everything happens quicker with whole grains so I prefer to proof at room temperature so I can keep an eye on them. Retarding in bulk then proofing at room temperatures is a nice option if you are wanting to extend the process out. Another schedule is soaking the flour and water overnight before adding leaven and salt, then complete the bread at room temp.

Still think the shaping may be too loose for this type of dough ... 

How does it taste? Is it really sour? Looks like you cut it pretty soon after baking ... is it gummy?

Just some thoughts John ....

Cheers,
Phil

 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Hi Phil.

Thanks for your attention to my frustrating issue.  I appreciate it a lot.

To answer your questions:

1. For the Tartine Whole Wheat, I am bulk fermenting at 80 degrees (27 celsius).  I do not own the book so I used this formula posted here:  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20033/tartine-whole-wheat-loaf-quotholeyquot-grail

2. I tasted the bread above and it does not really taste sour at all.  Yes, I did slice it after only out of the oven for 40 minutes, and yes it did have a gummy texture, even after fully cooling.

3.  As for last week's bake of your WW Sesame loaf, the same exact thing happened and I followed your formula by retarding prior to shaping.

4.  In regards to the shaping being too loose, do you mean not tight enough?  I shape very tight, using Chad's overlapping method and pulling the dough in towards me a few times to make the very tight surface tension.  The problem is when the shaped dough sits for a bit in banneton, in fridge or not, (as I witnessed today when I decided to re-shape after retarding and re-proof for short period), the dough slacks and is no longer a well shaped loaf.  The shaping produced a nice tight, full, plump dough.  Then when it sat in banneton proofing for only 30 mins, it already started to spread out and flatten.

What do you think?

John 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

I would say 27C is much to warm for the bulk fermentation ... I would say 24C or below would be a better choice. Things happen quick with whole grains and cooler temps will help control this.

I used to think I shaped tight ... until I met bakers who did shape tight ... made me realise how loose and overly gentle I was being with the dough ... These wet, slack doughs with whole grains need strength and tension ... especially in the final shaping ... I can't really explain it with words ... but the dough needs to be able to hold its shape when it hits the oven. That is another reason why i like a short proof with these style of breads. But this strength will begin as early as when water hits flour ... such as:

  • The properties and strength of the flour ...
  • How much water you use ...
  • How long you mix for ...
  • What condition your starter is in ( I prefer a stiff starter as it provides strength to the dough)
  • How many folds you give and how hard you work the dough during the folds ...
  • Temperature and amount of time in bulk ...
  • Pershaping and tightness given

... all of this before you even get to the shaping.

Perhaps next time try with slightly less water and cooler temps ... forget the retarding until you can watch for signs in how the bread/dough is behaving ...

Cheers,
Phil

 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Perfect.  Thanks for this Phil.  Next time I will do exactly that.  Less water, lower temp., and no retarding the proof.  I will try this again next weekend and let you know how it goes.  Who knew healthier bread would be so much more difficult than whites!

With your WW Sesame loaf in mind, if I were to exclude the retarding in fridge for 15 hours, how long would you proof on counter and at what temp?

Take care Phil, and look forward to your next bake.

John

PiPs's picture
PiPs

From memory it has about 10% pre fermented flour ... perhaps 3 hours between 22-24C in bulk ... watch the dough ... maybe around 3-4 folds ... drop the hydration back to around 80-85% overall ... This can give you some practice at bakers math too :)

Final proof can be anywhere round the 1 hour mark .. again watch the dough.

Have fun!!!

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

At the risk of hijacking this thread (apologies, SotB), I wonder if you (Phil) could take a sec to describe your basic small loaf shaping method.  I've been working on my technique all summer and, while I've made progress, I know I'm far from where I want to be with it.  I noticed in your recent post a proofing loaf that looked as though it had been simply rolled from a flattened oval.  How do you shape small (600-800 gr) loaves?

And I can't help but ask how it is that starter hydration affects ultimate dough strength.  You say above that stiff starters lead to stronger doughs.  I'm trying to make the biochemical connection there but coming up short.  Or is it just your empirical experience?

Thanks.

Tom

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi John,

I recognize the frustration that's coming through in your post but warm weather baking can be problematic, especially when we're accustomed to doing most of our baking in cooler temperatures than we have right now in B.C. Generally dough will move a lot quicker when it's like this and particularly ones made with a high ratio of whole grain.This is true even in our shop at work, which has reasonably good air conditioning.In addition to the good advice Phil has given you regarding the problem, and Robertson's points in that first paragraph on page 114, I'll suggest some basic guidelines that hopefully will be of use to you.

Autolyse the flours (not the preferment) for 1-2 hours, keep the DDT in the 74-75 range and watch it closely throughout bulk fermentation.

Regulate the temperature and build dough strength during BF with stretch and folds. Shape and final proof, then bake it off.

If the flavour and volume is acceptable to you, this is a process that's easy to manage for good results. Don't think of this as a setback, just a bump in the road that comes with the territory.

Best wishes,

Franko 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thank you Franko for your comments.  I really appreciate the help from the veteran bakers here like you and Phil.  You are making me feel more at ease already.

So are you saying to try avoiding fridge retarding all together with loaves such as this?

Sorry if this sounds a bit naive, but isn't temperature the same regardless of how hot it is outside the home/bakery?  I mean, if it is 45 degrees celsius outside, but a thermometer shows 27 degrees inside a room, doesn't that mean the dough will be proofed at 27 degrees celsius?  In the reverse, during the winter when it is 3 degrees celsius outside, it doesn't matter because I have my heating on to make the room a perfect 27 degrees celsius.  Am I totally wrong in this thinking?

Thanks again Franko.

John

Franko's picture
Franko

My apologies John, I didn't realize you were working without the book at hand.

Robertson says that the technique of giving the dough an over night rest is worthy if the leaven is added before giving the dough turns, or stretch and folds after it's rested overnight. I'm not saying to avoid retarding so much as suggesting that it's easier to control the dough if you do it over a shorter period of time. 

Your question regarding temps is a good one. On the face of it, what you're saying makes sense...however what your wall thermostat/thermometer is telling you is what it's reading over a limited area and less than perfect. The ambient temperature of a large area such as a room, and the ambient temperature surrounding an object in the room can be quite different due to drafts, insulation, how efficient the heating/cooling system is, etc. It's why bakeries spend a good portion of their equipment budget on proofing chambers that are designed to control fluctuations in temperatures and humidity. Controlling water temperature in your mix is far easier to do than trying to control the air temp surrounding your dough, that's why so much emphasis is placed on DDT, the air temperature being only one factor in that calculation. The Brod & Taylor home proofer, is one way to have better control over the immediate environment of a dough, but a styrofoam cooler with a heating pad or a pan of hot water will work as well, but with less control.

Franko

 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

No need for apologies Franko. 

As a note, I do not use a wall therm. as a reading of room temp.  What I do is put my oven thermometer upside down on a desk, so the thermometer rod does not touch the desk, or any other surface I do not want the temp of.  The thermometer then reads the ambient air.  I place the thermometer right beside the bowl of dough so it reads the air around it.  I understand that this is probably still not accurate enough.  Would you suggest against inserting the thermometer directly into the dough and keeping it there during the bulk ferment time to read the dough temp?

John

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi John, 

Absolutely, put the thermometer right in the center of the dough for the duration of bulk ferment. No better way I know of to get a good reading on your dough temp.

Franko

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

baking in AZ can be difficult when the kitchen is 82 F.  For whole grains, starter amount, autolyse, gluten development and temperature make all the difference if you want to retard the dough like you want do to develop the flavor.  I autolyse the whole grains for at least 4 hours on the counter and if I am going up to 8 hours then this is done in the fridge in the fridge.  You have to get the bran soft so it doesn't cut the gluten strands. 

I use less levain than i normally would in the winter time.  10-15 % of the total dough weight is plenty with 10% being better if over proofing is a problem.

I work fast when the dough isn't in the fridge.   I do 10 minutes of slap and folds to get the gluten developed quickly and then let it rest 15 minutes.   I do 3 quick S&F's on 10-15 minute intervals to fold in the add ins mainly but also to keep the gluten where it needs to be and then pre-shape and shape for the moulds.  Then a very short 15 - 30 minutes of counter proof before it hits the fridge.

Sometimes I just put it right into the fridge right after shaping if the kitchen is very hot.    I prefer this way in the summer months becuse i have greater control.  Then depending on how much the dough has risen in the fridge over  12-16 hours,  I can then decide if I want to bake it straight out of the fridge or let it proof some more on the counter.  Even after 2 hours on the counter for the rye this week, the dough was still cool when it went into the oven.   ! want this kind  control in the summer.

In the winter, I would rather let the dough rest on the counter an hour and a half after the last S&F and then into the fridge for 16 hours of bulk ferment.  Over proofing is not an issue in the winter,  Then you can shape and proof on the counter and bake whenever.  I get better results this way in the winter.

Don't know if this will help you or not in BC but it works for me here in the AZ heat.   Around here, whole grains on the conter are to be avoided if it isn't the end of the final proof.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks for the advice.  It is not anywhere close as hot here, but your tips can sure be used. 

On the bright side I had some successful bakes last night.  It is a long weekend here and I couldn't let a few flop bakes ruin it for me.

Happy baking.

John