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100% Whole Grain Goodness and Fiasco. A tale of two cities.

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David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

100% Whole Grain Goodness and Fiasco. A tale of two cities.

I put my new grain mill to work this weekend. The first thing I did was bake the teaching loaf in Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book.  Note, the master formula is not error free. Under ingredients and method he states to use all of the soaker, and then states use all of the soaker (or biga) when he should have said starter (or biga).  See, I read these things, Peter!

More substantively, the master formula states to chop the soaker and the starter or biga into 12 pieces each and to "sprinkle some of the extra flour over the pre-doughs to keep the pieces from sticking back to each other."

What am I missing, here? Why would you flour the pieces to prevent them from sticking if the goal is to mix the 24 pieces and combine them into a uniform mass?  Seems that flouring the pieces is counterproductive.

Anyway, back to the story.

The mill:

The just-combined dough:

The bulk rise:

In the pan -- you can see the pan was a bit too small to contain the dough:

The bakes loaf:

The crumb (this is my PB&J sandwich. It is a little wet with jelly to the right of middle:

Overall, I am not thrilled with the bread I baked. It tastes fine and is not heavy. But it is also a bit too crumbly. It is difficult to slice thin and when sliced sandwich thickness, it does not hold up very well.

That said, I assume that this is the fault of the baker and not the formula.  Although, if those who make this loaf regularly tell me that the bread is always easily torn and this is the best you can hope for from whole-grain goodness, my expectations can be adjusted.

After baking the sandwich loaf, I went back to Tartine and looked at his whole wheat recipe.  That formula and instruction set is fundamentally flawed and I can't even figure out what is supposed to be done with it, because while he says the whole wheat requires extra hydration, he does not give a formula for 100% whole wheat, leaving me wondering how much extra hydration is needed if I decide to go 100% whole wheat.

It is flawed for a second reason also -- whereas the basic country loaf discusses 750 grams (50 grams reserved to add with the salt) of water, the whole wheat description mentions 800 grams of water, mentions nothing about a reserve, and tells you mix the dough and says nothing about when to add the salt (if I recall, it actually refers back to the basic country loaf, but has you starting after the salt has been added).

Anyway, I figured if 800 grams was used with 800 grams of whole wheat, then I should add more than 800 for 100% whole wheat.  However, using 845 grams produced a dough that was rather wet.

I autholyzed overnight at room temperature, added the leaven and let it bulk ferment for 4 hours at 70 degrees.  The dough was bubbling at the surface. But it was very wet. I did not know whether I should shape it or let it sit longer.  So I shaped it.  Unfortunately, it was too loose and so I followed his directions after seeing a too runny bench rest and did another pre-shape.  This time it held together much better, so I finished the shaping and added it to my basket.

After proofing for 3 hours, it rose considerably but it had the consistency of Jell-O and did not look like it would make it out of the basket.

To my surprise, I successfully predicted that the dough would not come out of the basket. No way, no how. It was stuck good what I was able to tear out, was a big gloppy mess.

I baked it anyway. I am afraid to cut it.

It came out like a dense rock. I didn't bother scoring it because the "it" was not really a loaf.

I am ashamed to have wasted so much flour.  I don't know if my 86% hydrated dough was the problem or if I should have let it sit overnight in the fridge to let it dry out.  Unfortunately, I am not yet "there" with knowing whether dough is overproofed and I was a little concerned that leaving it for too long in its whole wheat state, would result in overproofed dough -- especially when I was seeing bubbles at the surface after only a few hours.

I also made whole wheat pizza with the other half of the dough (with 1/2 of that, still in the fridge).  The pizza was chewy and not bad, but not nearly as good as the tartine basic country loaf with white flour.  In part, it was not a fair test because I did not cook it on a preheated pan, but it was just too wet and stretchy to bake it that way and instead I dropped the goopy dough into the rectangular pan, stretched it out a bit and baked it in a hot oven.

Comments

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Whole wheat is a specialty unto itself-just like rye and Gluten free.There are a few basic concepts you need to know to make a "fluffy" and non crumbly loaf of whole wheat.

Remember what WW flour is. It consists of the starchy center of the grain as well as the branny, bark-like bits of the outer coating. What makes your WW loaf crumble after it is baked is that the bran bits have not had enough time to become fully saturated before being baked and continued to absorb moisture right from the baked crumb AFTER it was baked. This causes the starchy part of the crumb to dry slightly and become more brittle. That is when the sandwich falls into pieces as you try to bite into it. Frustrating! The solution is a soaking period of some kind of the WW flour-sponge,preferment,autolyse-and long enough (minimum of 30 minutes but several hours works better) for the bran bits to become fully soggy.

The next problem is that WW can be a dense bread. It will never be as fluffy as an all AP flour bread but it can be quite fluffy in a slightly dense way.  The trick is to develop the starchy matrix and this takes water and kneading. An alternative is to use a tangzhong made with part of the WW flour and the water or the addition of a starchy flour (rye,AP,cornstarch,potatoes or potato water,etc). It doesn't take much but fluffy bread has a well-developed starchy matrix. NOT vital wheat gluten-it makes for a more rubbery loaf-in my opinion. Some people like it-I don't.

So, water, time and starch are the keys to a fluffy WW loaf.

Have fun experimenting!

PS It took MANY practice loaves to figure this all out!

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

But I don't see where I could have autolyzed longer, unless I am missing something in the formula.

He uses a soaker (227 grams flour with 198 grams milk ) with 4 grams sale, which sits overnight. (So way more than 30 minutes)

A biga (227 grams flour, 1 gram yeast, 170 grams water) mixed and sits overnight int he fridge (So way more than 30 minutes).

In the morning, he has me mix the soaker and biga with another 56.5 grams flour, 5 grams salt, 7 grams yeast and 42.5 grams honey and 28.5 grams melted butter (So there is very little liquid to hydrate this bit of flour).

 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

After proofing for 3 hours, it rose considerably but it had the consistency of Jell-O and did not look like it would make it out of the basket.

To my surprise, I successfully predicted that the dough would not come out of the basket. No way, no how. It was stuck good what I was able to tear out, was a big gloppy mess.

 

 

At 3 hours of final proofing at very wet hydration-it was overproofed.  Take a search for "finger-poke test" and see if that info is helpful. It simply deflated with the "tear out" from the banneton.

Croutons? Bread soup? Garlic and broth can cover many sins!

 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I was surprised that 3 hours could overproof a sourdough, but I suppose with 100% whole wheat that sped things along too nicely.  I would not have poked my finger into this thing and gotten it back.  Not at 3 hours. Maybe at 1 hour.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

the counter overnight autolyse for a whole grain dough.   If I tried that in AZ it would be gloppy mess.  .It does sound like it was over proofed too.  Things happen faster as you kitchen worms u heading into summer.

When a very wet dough is at had after shaping. I like to dust the top with a light dusting of rice flour and after that goes down into the rice floured  basket, I like to dust the outside rim of the bottom of the dough so that as it rises ist too won't stick to the sides.

This extra precaution probably wouldm'tt be required for a retarded loaves baked straight out of the fridge, 

Love your new mill and Happy Bakinjg

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I tend to think things through in concepts and if you think of the concepts of what is happening when you poke dough with your finger, it makes sense.

If it is underproofed the dough will be firm feeling and won't leave an indent. The bubbles are forming but the gluten is very strong and not too relaxed so the bubbles just bounce back without breaking.

If it is overproofed, the gluten strands/walls have relaxed but also weakened and the bubbles are pretty inflated. When you poke into the dough, the bubble walls break easily and deflate. The poke stays indented with little or no bounce back.The whole loaf is in danger of collapse, esp when the heat of the oven expands and breaks the bubbles-the whole loaf sinks either in the oven or shortly after removal.

If it is correctly proofed, the gluten strings/walls are relaxed, the bubbles are inflated but most still have some bounce back  and don't break-they will expand as they heat before setting but some bubbles will break and leave a light indent in the dough.

That is what happens and may give you a good idea of what it all means as you poke.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Bravo for jumping in with the Master loaf.  I remember getting crumbly breads in the beginning too.

Not sure if you have read any of txfarmer's blogs on making 100% whole wheat loaves but it was her explanation of intensive kneading that made a difference for me.  Prior to that I was not getting a really strong windowpane - now I know how to get them mostly all of the time and it does make a difference.

With his formulas I generally cut down the IY in the final dough when I make IY loaves.  

I found his HL to be okay.  Sometimes I had to add a bit more water to get the right consistency.  All comes with practice.  Taking notes helps too.

Have Fun,

Janet

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

You found his "HL" to be okay... what is HL?

TXFarmer suggests intensive kneading; but Reinhart doesn't seem to suggest anything more than 4-5 minutes, by hand, if I recall. He says it should feel soft and not tacky but not sticky.  I suppose the next go, I will knead longer and maybe even let it rest a bit before kneading some more (I did find that it became a bit stiff in the kneading but did not know if that meant I ought to be kneading still more).

Linking back to TX Farmer thread so I can review later.

 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

HL = hydration level.

I now test for windowpane by stretching the dough as txfarmer shows.  PR shows a photo in his book too.  Best way to judge this is to take a walnut sized piece of dough and see how resilient it is when stretched out to a thin sheet.  Does it tear?  Not kneaded enough.  Does it stretch nicely and have strength?  Nice windowpane.  You can go too far though and then you get weak dough again but, if you are kneading by hand this is not something you need to be concerned about!

Takes more than 4-5 minutes with my mixer and, if doing by hand, I am sure it would take at least 20 minutes with 100% whole wheat.  

If it was feeling dry I would have added a bit more water to it.  Texture is hard to explain and comes with practice - just like you did with your Tartine loaf.  Over time you will know what an enriched dough should feel like. SOmeone gave the description of - think about cooking rice with too little water.  To soften the bran more water is necessary and ww flour takes longer for the water to be absorbed.  Your biga and soaker will be fine - it is the extra flour added to the final dough that needs time.  

When you try this again pay attention to the texture of your soaker.  That is the texture you are going for in the final dough.  Feel it right after you mix it and then 12 hours later.  You will see how stretchy and resilient it has become.  The biga, on the other hand, will be weaker due to the fermenting but it will show gluten development too.

Hope this helps.  I know it can get very confusing but it does come together with practice.

Janet

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

nuff said. the sandwich loaf was not kneaded enough. I am sure of it. 

golgi70's picture
golgi70

First things first freshly milled wheat is much different than store bought.  It will ferment much faster hence the need for lesser inoculation of "yeast" (natural or commercial).  The first loaf with milk, honey, and butter is bound to be a tender loaf but I'm sure with proper development it will be sliceable but I can't say I've tried this particular formula.  Fresh milled wheat is also quite thirsty and if you want a 100% loaf that has lightness (it will never be like a white flour loaf) it requires ample hydration and time.  The fruits of this labor are eye opening and well worth it.  One way to figure your hydration without wasting too much flour is to take say 4 oz of the fresh milled flour and mix with equal water.  Do an autolyse of say 20 minutes then begin doing folds every 30 minutes and see how long it takes to develop and how well. Different grain will hydrate differently so this is good practice each time you buy some berries to find it's rough hydration point.  You'll also get an idea of how long and how many folds your dough will need.  

My suggestions for the pan loaf if you are using fresh milled flour would be to cut the overnight flour soaker and decrease the yeast significantly if not completely and let the biga do the work.  Then I'd suggest doing a cold bulk fermentation.  So prep your biga and don't retard.  Do a simple 20-30 minute autolyse and hold back some of the liquid to help incorporate the biga and salt.  Squreeze through the biga with some of the held back h20, then again with the salt  and gently pince and fold til you have moderate gluten devlopment.  Now get a few folds in to build strength before placing in the fridge for 12 hours or so (Maybe 3/4@ 20 minute intervals).  since the fermenation will go on so much longer the yeast will need to be decreased quite a bit.  How much???  I'd think 40% prefermented flour would be more than enough if not too much in the biga alone.  Then pop it out and let it come to temp for 30-60 minutes and divide/preshape/rest(a little longer than normal as the dough is cold and will take longer to relax) and then shape/proof/bake.  

As for a hearth loaf again decreased levain % is ideal with higher hydration as well.  Again I fell these 100% whole grain doughs benefit greatly from a long slow fermentation time (cold).  It's also much easier to handle these high hydration doughs with some chill on them.  As for them sticking.  A mix of rice and white flour and a real good dusting did the trick for me when I was having issues.  If it cakes up a bunch on the loaf you can brush it off after turning out of bowl with a pastry brush.  

Welcome to whole grain baking.  It sure is challenging but when you do get a good loaf you are gonna name that mill and have a love for it like a member of the family.  Just a bit of different techniques and the fun lesson of handling very wet dough.  It's all worth it.  Sorry if I have said too much.

Happy Milling/Baking

Josh

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

You are more of an intuitive baker than I am. At this point I need to follow directions, but I understand the point that fresh milled will ferment faster than store bought and that I therefore must watch the dough more carefully. I will definitely be doing this again and again and will try incorporating your suggestions as time permits.

The hearth loaf was not following directions but I blame Chad for making his directions too difficult to understand in this regard.  At least I know that I have the basic country loaf down to a near certain great loaf of bread, so I can fall back on that when and as needed. :)

golgi70's picture
golgi70

Tartine is a fantastic book(s) it can be a bit confusing at times.  I like to take his recipes and write them in my format before I begin so it is clearer.  He doesn't include the levain as part of the flour/water in his formulas but as it's own entity which makes perfect sense but i like to see it incorporated in the totals myself.  Furthermore none of his doughs encompass 100% whole grain (I take that back I only own book 3 so maybe in book 1)

I fear doing the long cold proof with 100% whole grain as it loses its strength and over proofs over that course of time.  Or at least in my few experiences.  i find once you push the whole grain to a certain percentage it's best to do a final proof as swiftly as possible (not necessarily fast but not stalled by chilling).  Thats me though and I have seen some fine loaves of 100% WG bread with a cold final proof.  I've just not had much success in doing so.  I have found the cold bulk to be the my ticket with these types of dough.  

Just a small change of process/scheduling.  It's actually a bit easier but takes a bit more preparation and more of your time.  

I look forward to your results with the new mill.  

Cheers

Josh

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Tartine 2 has a whole wheat adjustment to the basic country loaf. The discussion says you can go to 100% but the formula is, I believe, 80%. The formula is not confusing. It is his directions because he skips adding the salt and is not clear if there is supposed to be another 50 grams of water since that is the step he skips (In the basic loaf he adds salt and 50 grams additional water). 

golgi70's picture
golgi70

From what I know of Tartine it's all a tweak off the basic loaf.  So I think it's implied to hold back 50 g for the salt.  Being that most "recipe" books have a set of instructions for each recipe it is a bit confusing.  So what was your hydration after all was said and done?  

Josh

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

It was 86%.  I didn't calculate that until after the bake. 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

My 100% home-milled loaf that ripped apart in the basket tastes delicious. looks awful on the outside but had a decent structure inside and more importantly, tastes very good and is not dry.  The crust is a bit tough to chew but I believe this would have been different if it was proofed properly or if it came our of the basket in one piece. 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

My second attempt at the 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf was made in a larger pan. I also kneaded it for a lot longer, and with my wet hands, I think the dough was hydrated more than it needed to be.  The dough was very sticky. I don't know if I should have kept kneading or not, but it was getting ridiculous how often I had to wet my hands and that only seemed to make it worse.

The bread soft, almost too soft for cutting easily. I think I need one of those guides to make sure I cut straight. The crumb is moist, and not as crumbly as it was before.  Still, it is not quite what I am looking for in a sandwich bread. I will try again for sure, as it tastes pretty good.  But in the end, I think I am going to prefer the tartine bake, when made in a loaf pan, to this bread, because it is easier to slice.  We'll see if that is true when I go to 100% whole wheat on the tartine formula.