The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Reinhart recipe problems

sreinert's picture
sreinert

Reinhart recipe problems

I'm having problems with Peter Reinart's whole wheat sandwich and hearth breads. The bigas and soakers are too dry and the dough doesn't rise much when proofing or in the oven. I'm weighing the ingredients and using a new package of instant yeast. Any ideas would be welcome.

Edith Pilaf's picture
Edith Pilaf

I've gotten good results by 1) not adding any of the final flour -- I only use a couple tablespoons to dust the counter;  I mix the biga and soaker together by hand using the "stacking" method he describes in the book and knead for a few minutes in the Kitchenaid; and 2) proofing in a very warm spot (77F to 80F degrees).  This is warmer than I use for any other bread.   I get a good rise, nice oven spring, and a moist, tender crumb. 


The biga and soaker seemed quite dry to me when I tried this the first time.  I use regular whole wheat flour (Bob's Red Mill).  I guess I use about 1/4 cup less flour than he calls for.

sreinert's picture
sreinert

Thanks for your reply. I'm glad I'm not the only one who found the biga and soakers dry. Also, I usually don't proof bread dough in a very warm place. I'll try your suggestions.

Kroha's picture
Kroha

I have baked the multigrain one several times successfully.  I have never baked the master recipe, but have baked many other breads in the book over and over.  I am not sure if the consistency of the biga matters.  I baked both with roller-milled and stone-ground flour, and the stone-ground flour makes for a drier biga, but I get great bread either way.  I think much of the consistency depends on the flour you use as different flours abosrb water diffferently.  He does not specify any consistency adjustments to the biga, so I do not make them.  I also recall  that in the book he says that biga will rise in the fridge, but does not have to rise significantly in order to do its job.    As for the soaker, its consistency will depend greatly on the grains you use.  Sometimes, my soaker is stiff enouch that I can cut it with dough scarper as suggested in the recipe.  Other times, it is so loose that I can't cut it and just throw it in with the rest of the ingredients.  I just make the flour adjustments while kneaning in the machine and by hand, and it works out fine.  I often find that I  have to add some flour during hand kneading  to get the dough consistency he describes (tacky but not sticky).  I consistenly get great results from the book.


I am not a super experienced baker, but I would suggest making sure that the dough is properly developed (meets windowpane test) and holding back some flour if your flour makes a final dough that is too dry.  Also, I would think that it is important to make sure that the bulk fermentation is completed by poking the dough gently to about 1/4 inch depth with the tip of your damp finger.  If the indentation does not fill, the dough is ready to be shaped and proofed.  Also, proper shaping technique is very important for rising as it helps create tension on the surface of the loaf.  Also, make sure that you proof fully by testing the dough, rather than just following the time inidcated in the recipe.


I apologize if I am telling you what you know and do already.


Happy baking!


Kroha