The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Reinhart Flop - Whole Wheat!

captino's picture
captino

First Reinhart Flop - Whole Wheat!

I've made about 8 different recipes from PR's book, always with success, although with experience I improved.  Then I tried his regular Whole Wheat.  I used corn for the soaker, but only regular "store bought" whole wheat flour for the Poolish and main ingredient.  As I kneaded the dough, I noticed that it would not pass the window-pain test.  I tried adding more flour and then less flour, and then simply kneading some more (hoping for the gluten to develop), but NO GO.  Finally, I just put it in a bowl for the first rise, which was fine!  I then formed it into loaves, but after an hour the texture of the dough was no longer smooth and they had not risen much at all!  The two loaves looked all broken on the surface, giving me an indication of poor gluten formation.  I'm going to bake them off, but I expect a poor result.


Q:  is this due to my not using high-protein wheat flour?  That was my only variation from the recipe, and the book does say I can use it.  I was skeptical because I've noticed that other "whole wheat" recipes call for both white and wheat, perhaps because of gluten?  I am a novice here, and upset over my first failure with this fellow's wonderful recipes.  Where did I go wrong?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Captino.


I doubt your problem is due to the WW flour.


Which of Reinhart's WW recipes are you using? The 100% whole wheat bread from BBA or a different recipe from his Whole Grain book?


When you say you are using "corn" for the soaker, in what form is it? (Coarse corn meal? Fine corn meal? Whole popcorn kernals?)


If the corn is quite coarse, it may be cutting the gluten strands when you mix. If that's the problem, you might try a different soaker or add the soaker just for the last 2 minutes of mixing, after you have developed the gluten pretty well already. I have made the 100% WW bread from BBA using bulghur (cracked wheat) as the soaker, and had no problem with gluten development, following the directions in the formula.


David


 

captino's picture
captino

David - thanks for answering.  Well - the book is BBA (I should have said, but I'm new to the forum).  Also, the corn I was using was polenta, which is what I have also used as the soaker (per the book) in his Anadama Bread recipe - with wonderful results (Anadama is my fav).  Given that the polenta soaker in that recipe does not affect the texture of the bread, it doesn't seem that this one should -- and that's why I attributed it to the lower gluen in the supermarket WW flour.   The failure of the dough to pass the windowpane test here is the key, but I have since reviewed the recipe and I left out nothing.  I have also now baked off the two loaves, and they taste good, but there was no oven spring (zero!) and they are far from what I expected.  Could it be that I proofed the dough too long after kneading it?  Yet that still leaves the question of why the dough did not seem to have the elasticity that the windowpane test measures. 


The finished bread has great taste and I want to make the recipe again, but not until I've figured out what happened. 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I haven't done the whole wheat from BBA, but I have finished the Anadama.  Instead of using corn meal (polenta and other varieties) I did my soak with corn flour (Masa Harina) which is finer and offers a smoother texture to the finished dough.


I'm no where near an expert on these subjects; like you, I'm something of a novice in the bread baking field.  But if it's the coarseness of your corn meal that's generating your disappointment, I'd suggest trying the Masa Harina to see if it fairs better than Polenta.


This info. is brief, yet fairly comprehensive


http://bakingbites.com/2008/07/what-is-masa-harina/

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Well, Polenta should work fine. 


Overproofing can lead to poor oven spring, but I thought you said you got poor rising during bulk fermentation. That suggests either a problem developing the gluten (which fits with other observations you made) or dead yeast.


David

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones


you said you got poor rising during bulk fermentation. That suggests either a problem developing the gluten (which fits with other observations you made) or dead yeast.



Or adding too much flour, perhaps? I used to get this poor rising during the first ferment, and as soon as I started making doughs wetter this problem disappeared. Also, having patience and giving it several hours more sometimes helps. I used to think that if the recipe said it would rise in an hour, that I should give it that one hour, and then bake it, LOL. (Bangs head against wall)


OP, were both the flour and yeast very fresh? Just curious.

captino's picture
captino

Maybe the flour was the problem!  It was a bag of whole wheat flour that I'd had on my shelf for at LEAST one year!  Could that be it???  I always thought that flour was ageless.

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

I've read that flour should be used within about three months, especially if it's a whole grain flour -- the oils (from the germ) in the latter go rancid, for one thing.

captino's picture
captino

David - well, a misread there.  During the first rising I got a good doubling of the dough, so it seemed like the yeast was OK.  But the proofing was a bust - almost no rise at all, except to break the skin of the loaves (showing poor elasticity).

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I suspect insufficient gluten development. Note that a higher gluten flour would require more mixing, not less. Also, I've found with several of the BBA formulas that Reinhart's mixing times are shorter than what the dough needs with my KitchenAid Accolade.


When I first got BBA, my breads were dense, and had poor oven spring. Over time, I started paying more attention to the dough and less to the clock, and my breads improved. It took almost 2 years to really get a feel for dough, though.


In this regard, you should read SusanFNP's latest blog entry on her Wild Yeast Blog.  It's a lesson we all need to learn.


David

flournwater's picture
flournwater

A beautifully told story and, in it, a lesson I shall not forget.


Thanks for sharing that, David

captino's picture
captino

David, it WAS insufficient gluten development.  I went down and checked the small amount of flour I had remaining in the little bag that I had tossed after today's experience - it was a 2 pound bag that had been sitting in my cupboard that I opened this morning.  I checked the "sell by" date and it was Oct 2004!!!  Ancient flour!  It was foolish of me to use the old stuff 'cause I had a new bag handy, but that's what I did - I just had no idea how old it was and frankly didn't know it would matter.  It matters!


Thanks for all the interest in this problem!


Jim

Steve H's picture
Steve H

Really?  I'd heard about the rancidity problem but didn't know that old flour would have problems with gluten development. I figured the gluten was stable...

captino's picture
captino

Steve, I really don't know myself about this.  The flour had no particular odor to indivate it was rancid.  It had been kept utterly dry on a high shelf in my cabinet all this time.  But, it was 5 years past its "sell by" date and the dough although it did rise after being mixed with yeast, would not come close to passing the windowpane test -- it had virtually no elasticity or flexibilty when pulled.  So...I have to believe that the loaves failed because of the age of the whole wheat flour.  Jim

mredwood's picture
mredwood

Old flour may sometimes present problems but if it is not rancid it has not been a problelm for me. I visit mom every 2 years and when I get there I bake for her. Anything and everything. The flour is always what is left over from my past visit. Never had a problem. 


Mariah

captino's picture
captino

Mariah - well, today I made the identical recipe using everything the same EXCEPT the flour - I used new whole wheat flour.  The effect was visible from the appearance of the poolish and of the final dough.  Both showed gluten development where, with the old flour (5 years past its sell date!) there was nothing.  I am not sure whether that old flour had gone rancid.  The package had never been opened, and as I say there was no smell. But if you buy a new bag of flour, what is the "sell by" date on that? 3-4 years maybe?  If so, that means the flour I had used was over 8 years old.  I have to think it was the flour.


Jim

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

captino on June 12, 2009 wrote:
today I made the identical recipe using everything the same EXCEPT the flour - I used new whole wheat flour.  The effect was visible from the appearance of the poolish and of the final dough.  Both showed gluten development where, with the old flour (5 years past its sell date!) there was nothing.

Whole grain (or bean flour - such as soy flour) can definitely degrade over time.


Commercial white flour (even unbleached) is more robust. Five years past the sell-by date is long, but if its only a year I'd bet it would be fine.


To repeat yet again the advice given by many TFL bakers for whole grain / whole bean flours...store them in the freezer.


If you - like me - are cursed with limited freezer space but routinely bake with whole grain flours, consider buying a good grain mill. I've milled good flour from wheat at least 3 years old that was stored at room temperature. Seeds are more tolerant of storage conditions; only if you live in an area with prolonged high temperature plus humidity do you have to be concerned about how they're stored.

mredwood's picture
mredwood

Jim


You have me convinced. I use fresh at home. When I bake at moms it hardly sends an hour or two on the counter. If It 's not eaten by my bro's it's wrapped for mom for when I leave.


Thanks for  your input. I don't know if I have ever eaten flour that old. 


Mariah