The Fresh Loaf

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Reinhart Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread (Flat)

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Steve H's picture
Steve H

Reinhart Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread (Flat)

I made the Reinhart 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich bread (the first one in the book, I'm pretty sure) and it came out flat like a Ciabatta.  I tried to make a Batard, per the instructions, and it just didn't come out.  The dough lacked the strength to hold its shape for very long so it flattened out while proofing.


I used a Kitchenaid dough hook to do the mixing.  I am thinking that the dough needed to be stretched and folded somewhere in the process, maybe, to build up strength in the dough.  Anyone had any experience with this and know where I might be going wrong?


I'll post a picture of the pancake tonight. :)

LLM777's picture
LLM777

I use a Kitchenaid dough hook also and knead according to directions. There have been postings to say that the kneading should be longer than what is stated so I do that now (10-15 min) and it seems to help some.


The times when my loaves were flat (spread more than should've) with this recipe was when I used too much water or overproofed. Now that I weigh my ingredients my breads come out like they're supposed to.  I do not add any water to adjust except what I use on my hands to knead the dough. And I try not to overproof but I'm still learning how it's suppose to look and feel.


I also grind my own wheat so that may absorb more water but I still stick to the recipe amounts. If you use store bought wheat that may not absord as much water and create a dough that's too hydrated.


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Make sure you are grinding your wheat and using it right away (preferably on the day you grind). Otherwise age the ground flour for at least 2 weeks before using.


Also, you might want to get a new package of yeast if your bread isn't proofing properly. A lot of us here use SAF Red instant yeast. It only cost about $6 a pound and buying a new package should eliminate the possibility of bad yeast as a variable.


--Pamela

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

Someone else here, and I did a little research to see how accurate he was, had slightly different advice when it comes to aging and using freshly ground flour ...and I believe he was correct according to other sources (which I don't recall now.)  Basically it's this ...White flour (or flour with most of the bran sifted out) needs to age about 4 weeks to let the natural enzymes and oxidation to take place.  Someone added "Or use it right away" to that, but I couldn't verify that.  I only found "age it 4 weeks" and believe that this is what flour manufacturers do.  But for whole wheat, the aging doesn't make as much difference.  It does help with rising a little (slightly better gluten formation), but the loss of nutrients and flavor is too large a trade-off for the slight increase in bread volume.  With whole-grain flour, you'll probably be happier if you grind it when you need it, and use it right away (or within a couple of days.)  Note that I'm passing on what I've read ...that my new mill is enroute and I don't have it yet to experiment with!  (A Country Living Grain Mill ...the Grainmaker sounded too hard to turn in comparison, and the Diamant was ...shall we say ...a bit spendy?  I'd love to have one, but my kid can buy a used car for that price.)


Brian


 

Steve H's picture
Steve H

I used store-bought flour for these.  Gold Medal All Natural Whole Wheat.  I also measured the incredients.  I had 4 grams too much of water, and used some of the extra flour, but not all.


I'm wondering if my kneading technique is off.  Specifically, I wonder if I could add some strech and folds to this method to make the dough stronger.  I have a theory that stretching and folding might not just develop gluten but also create a stronger grain structure, kind of like cold-working metal (e.g. folding metal for swords, etc)


The crumb seems normal and the flavor is very mild.


 



xaipete's picture
xaipete

Really, Steve, your loaf looks nice. One-hundred percent whole wheat bread doesn't get the oven spring that white bread or transitional bread gets. You could add some VWG to the mixture. That would probably get you a little more spring. Baking under some type of a cloche also increases oven spring.


I think you should be very happy with your results. The crumb look nice and even.


--Pamela

Steve H's picture
Steve H

Thanks Pam I will try those out!  Still I felt like if the dough had held its shape better it would have been nice.  I found it difficult to get much any surface tension making the Boule.  I probably need practice.


I have a dutch oven that I use for bread and will probably do that next, since it includes a cover and makes for a nice even bake.

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

In looking at the top photo, my first thought was "dough was too soft or over-mature."  In looking at the grain in the bread, my first thought was "too dry or not enough gluten formation."  Look at the flat bottom of the loaf and how it did not lift from the pan as oven spring occurred.  I think the only conclusion can be that the gluten formation was inadequate.  Run the KitchenAid (what I use also) longer, and don't start timing until all of the ingredients have disappeared into the dough.  I know the dough hook is 'kneading' the dough while adding those last ingredients, but don't worry about that.  Just add them as you should, not too fast, and start timing after the last is in.  And with a whole-wheat dough, it'll benefit from extra folding.  I made a similar recipe last weekend (then fell asleep while it was baking ...with the expected result) that turned out fine.  I folded once when the dough peaked, rising in a 70 F room, then put it in the fridge for baking the next day.  I folded once again at around midnight since the dough (a sourdough loaf) had doubled again.  On Sunday, I folded once again when it came out of the fridge and let it warm up to room temperature, folding once more prior to preshaping, a 20 minute bench time, and final shaping.  Final ferment was on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  Nice oven spring, nice artisan-like crumb inside, great flavor ...well, the still-soft center of the loaves tasted great ...the burned, thick, rock-hard outer crust was inedible ...darn, I wish I didn't fall asleep while baking!  That's what I get for finishing up in the evening...


Brian


 

chiaoapple's picture
chiaoapple

This might be a silly suggestion, but if you're mainly concerned about flatness, try a loaf pan. If you still don't get any spring in a loaf pan, the issue might be overproofing (as mentioned by other posters). if it gets an ok spring (ww will seldom attain the heights of white), then it probably means the dough just isn't strong enough to keep from spreading in the oven.

Steve H's picture
Steve H

Thanks chiaoapple!  I was trying to go for a more rustic look than I could get with a pan but certainly that is an option.  I actually did this with another bread where I used a cake pan to make what looked kind of like a giant muffin.  There is always, of course, the standard loaf pan, which would not be a bad choice for sandwich bread. :-)


Last night, did a bulk ferment and preshaping of some sourdough bread I plan to cook tonight or tomorrow.  During preshaping, I was able to figure out the hand technique pretty well for a boule or batard.  There is sortof this tuck and roll motion that I didn't quite have down.  While this dough is a bit stickier, I'm hoping some surface tension will help.


Kind of off-topic of this thread, but there sure are some kinda sketchy/wrong youtube videos of kneading out there.  I was watching one the other day and the woman had to have incorporated a good 2 cups of additional flour into her bread during kneading.   Wow!

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

I know what you mean about YouTube (and some other sources).  What I get from the funky methods that people use is that bread making is very forgiving.  You'll almost always get a loaf ...the trick is in producing the best loaf that you can (color, smell, flavor, crumb, shape, etc).  My grandmother makes bread in a Cuisinart... with the blade.  I never have figured that one out, but her bread (always the same) isn't bad.  It's a medium crumb Bavarian (1/3rd whole wheat, 1/3rd white, 1/3rd rye) loaf that they use for daily table fare.


 


Brian


 

Weatherwax's picture
Weatherwax

Hi, I just made the same bread in a loaf pan. The dough was pretty wet and felt slack to me, so I don't know what would have happened if I'd made a batard. 


Did you do a windowpane test? I noticed that it took a good deal more time and effort to develop the gluten than PR indicated in the recipe. I did it all by hand and followed his directions exactly . . . until the final kneading, which he said would take about a minute.  I ended up whacking away at it pretty vigorously for about twenty minutes before I got to the windowpane stage.  Obviously the mixer would get there faster, but it might still take more than the 2-3 minutes he calls for.


There was a big change in texture near the end--it suddenly got to the point that it was sticking more to itself than to me, and the dough cleaned my hands and the counter.


I don't know if that's helpful! I'm a novice, really, and this is a newbie sort of answer--hope it's not annoying. I used KA whole wheat flour, by the way; I'm sure it was more than a few days old.

ezm's picture
ezm

Hi,


I read this thread with interest because I've just started making PR whole grain loaves.  I tried the standard recipe and got a loaf that looked a lot like the one pictured above.  It tasted goo and had ok texture but was too flat.  Then I moved on to the basic hearth bread recipe on p.153 and have made 4 of these loaves.  They too have seemed a bit too flat, and there has been, more importantly, very little oven spring.  I've tried differnet proofing times to try to avoid overproofing but without incresaing oven spring.  I'm starting to wonder if this is really not a probelm actually.  The loaves taste good, but the reason I think there should be more oven spring is partly that the crumb is a bit denser o the bottom of the loaf, and also, well, because the pictures in Reinhart's book show a loaf that is not so flat.  But I've yet to figure out the key here.  One problem may be that I have tried to score the loaves because when I have scored them after the final proofing they have all deflated quite a bit in the process, and since there is little oven spring that shows.  I wonder if I would get a better shaped loaf without scoring.  Well, it would be great to keep this thread going until we get some more answers... 


 


 

Steve H's picture
Steve H

I'm going to try again tonight or this weekend to make this bread again.  The basic one, not the one on p.153.  We shall see how it turns out.  The bread was flavorful; and cutting it at an angle, like I did, yielded tolerably large slices.  Still, I was hoping for better.


1.  I think I could solve this problem very easily with a ceramic dutch oven, like the one I have.  Or a loaf pan.


2.  I am going to try more careful kneading and checking for the windowpane test.  I might also do some stretch and folds during bulk fermentation, like Hamelman is very fond of doing in his recipies.  I'm also going to try to create more surface tension in the final loaf, in hopes that will help it hold its shape better.


Approach 2 is what I am going to go for this weekend.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

tananaBrian's picture
tananaBrian

Hi,


Since gas such as the CO2 in your dough MUST expand when heated, as all gases do, the only answer to the question about lack of oven spring has to be a) that the gas leaks out of the bread as it's heating up OR b) the dough lacked CO2 in the first place and there was little there to expand, or c) the skin of the dough is too tough and not allowing the bread to expand, or d) the dough got deflated prior to baking.


If the CO2 is leaking out during the period of time when you should see oven spring (first 5 minutes in the oven or so), then the gluten structure is not holding it in the dough.  This can happen for any of several reasons.  The most obvious are a) lack of enough gluten development, or b) ingredients or flour that interrupt the gluten structure, e.g. oils, sugar, sharp bran that cuts the gluten, rough grade flour (home milled?), etcetera.


If there was not enough CO2 in the dough in the first place, then it's a matter of making sure the dough is leavened with a viable leavener that was not made less viable by your dough making process.  The only way that I can think of to make (fresh) yeast less viable is to overheat it by adding it to very very hot water.  I suppose that if the ferment was too short and in a cold place, that the yeast may not have produced much gas either, but I'm sure your not doing that to your dough.


If the skin of the dough is too tough, it probably means that it dried somewhat.  Rising dough needs to be protected from drying out.  I cover with a damp towel which is in turn covered by a sheet of plastic wrap.  There are other ways of course.


If the dough got deflated before baking, it could be from letting it rise too long (but you'd see it collapse), or slicing too deeply when scoring the bread.  Try a shallow scoring while holding the knife/razor blade/whatever horizontal (same position as when it's laying on the counter.)


It seems that the obvious run of experiments to determine the trouble would then be:


1. Using only fresh commercially manufactured yeast, try longer mixer times under the dough hook and/or additional folds (do several) during the ferment.  This assumes the dough is approximately correct in hydration, but it doesn't have to be perfect.


2. Try again, but use a plain white recipe that has no excessive amounts of non-flour ingredients or low-gluten flour in it.  You should still use fresh commercial yeast.


3. If you're not sure about your dough hydration level and haven't achieved success yet, then experiment with wetter/drier versions of your simple recipe (from step #2 above.)  You should still be using fresh commercial yeast.


4. Once you have succeeded when using fresh commercial yeast, then switch to sourdough if you like.  The same applies to more challenging ingredients being in the recipe.  Once you succeed with a simple white recipe, move on to a more challenging one.


Just my 2-bits...  As you can tell, I like the divide and conquer method.


Brian


 

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

Reinhart has a number of books out; would y'all mind adding the book name (e.g. BBA) when you cite page numbers? Thanks!

ezm's picture
ezm

I'm talking about Reinhart's book "Whole Grain Breads" and the loaf I was making was the one described on p.153.