The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Molasses + Whole Wheat = stone?

KD1001's picture

Molasses + Whole Wheat = stone?

I was just mixing up some dough to make some whole wheat sandwich bread, and decided to use molasses in place of honey, which I'm a bit short on at the moment. I've substituted in molasses successfully on a number of occassions, with one exception, and that problem seems to be repeating itself now. The dough (375 grams of flour, 75% Whole wheat, 70% total hydration, includes 30g molasses) has turned into a soft stone, and feels like I'm kneading 30% hydration dough, and it won't allow itself to be pushed back together if I try to seal up the seams. The gluten doesn't seem to be developing either, it just tears whenever pressure is applied and the dough easily tears apart. I tried adding more liquid, but all that happened was the dough discharged an equal amount of brown goop when I tried to knead it in. Anyone know what's going wrong here?

The dough is resting a bit now, I'm going to try kneading it a bit more, then go through the standard ferment - form - proof - bake process and see what happens. I had this happen once before and I got a brick out of the oven... will post with continued results.

xaipete's picture

I'm not really sure what is going on but I don't think it is the molasses. From what I understand molasses is just not as sweet as honey; I'm not aware that its presence or absence would make your loaf into a brick. Sounds like there is either not enough kneading or a problem with the yeast.


KD1001's picture

Hmm, I don't think it's my kneading, I kneaded it for a few minutes and the dough still tore itself apart if handled too roughly. The one other time this happened I continued kneading it for over 15 minutes and the problem with the dough refusing to come back together just became more pronounced, and I was left with a nasty lump full of seams. It's as if the molasses is thickening the dough or effectively drying it out.

However, on this one I decided to stop kneading and use the folding method described on the TFL tutorial. I let it rest for 10 minutes after each set of folds and repeated three times and so far it seems alright. I let it ferment another 30 minutes and it was still stone like, but it did expand a bit, and was much lighter, so the yeast are definitely working - imagine a smooth surfaced brown pumice. I decided to shape it and put it in a loaf pan for final proofing, we'll see what happens next...

rainwater's picture

I haven't started using molasses yet, but there must be a problem somewhere else.....It seems you can add just about anything to a bread dough really.....and comparitive sweetness shouldn't be an issue because there are so many formulas with no sweetness added.  I thought molasses was a standard addition for some types of bread...Is it possible to get a weird bad batch of flour????

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Hi there. 

Sounds like you need to get your hydration up. I have no Idea what happened but you've got to get some water in there.  Molassis doesn't really count as liquid.  So poke holes all over your dough and pour about 100ml into them and let it just rest 10 min that way.  Then start to tear up the gooey mess squishing it until it's worked in.   Once in, add some more water or wet your hands in between as you work the dough.  The yeast will be fine.


KD1001's picture

That's the odd thing mini, even if I take the molasses out of my spreadsheet calculations it's still a 61% hydration dough. How much of the molasses should I count as liquid anyway?

Well, one final update for the night. I baked the thing (which rose faster than I expected) and it doesn't look all that bad. Since it's almost midnight here I'll wait until tomorrow morning for a peek inside... a quickly taken picture:

Wheat loaf with molasses problem


ques2008's picture

your loaf looks pretty.  how did it taste?  are you happy with it?

KD1001's picture

Morning has finally arrived, and I'm pleasantly surprised to see that my horrible dough baked up quite nicely. It has a very mild molasses taste, soft and spongy crumb, and a soft and thin crust. It's not the perfect sandwich bread I'm aiming for, but it's certainly not bad:

Whole Wheat Loaf

I'm still interested to know if someone can enlighten me as to why the dough exhibited signs of rigor mortis.