The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Need some help

Fly's picture

Need some help


     I've been working on a wheat bread for a while now and still having trouble.  First, the recipe for 3lbs of dough: 


     50/50 bread flour/WW flour

     67% water

     10% butter

     5% sugar

     2% salt

     1.8% Fleischmann's active dry yeast


     The night before I set up a 100% poolish with half of the bread flour (so 25% of the total flour) and a pinch of the yeast.  This will do it's thing for 6 hours or so before I mix the dough.  Poolish, remaining flour and water, and the rest of the yeast goes into my 6qt KitchenAid Pro with dough hook on low just long enough to mix, usually 2 minutes or so.  After a 20 minute autolyse I knead on 2nd or 3rd spead for 4 minutes, add the butter and sugar, then knead for a further 4-5 minutes.  I shoot for a dough temp in the mid-60s.  I'll bulk ferment for 1 hour, with stretches at 20 and 40 min, then seperate into 9" loaf pans.  I let these rise until level with the top of the pans then bake for 1 hour at 375.  I look for 200-205 on the thermometer.  I'll bake uncovered for 15 min then cover with foil for the remainder to keep the crust soft. 


     The flavor is just fine; I like it, wife, loves it, and the kids insist on it for their school lunch sandwiches.  The biggest roblem I have with it is loaf volume.  Initially I split the dough into my 2-loaf Italian bread pan.  When I decided to use the loaf pans I split it 3 ways: two 9" pans and one 10x5 pan.  None of these would come close to filling the pan without over-proofing and collapsing upon slashing.  So I tried splitting the dough in half, first between one 9" and one 10" pan, then 2 9" pans.  Still, although they rise to fill the pan, I get almost no oven spring and the finished loaves are only a little over half the height of a normal sandwich loaf.  Obviously it's also very dense.


     It seems that a 67% dough should have plenty of water a good oven spring, but I get better performance out of my 62% white Italian bread.  I've thought about vital wheat gluten but from reading on here it seems more appropriate for 100% WW bread; the bread flour provides enough gluten.  So I'm looking for suggestions and critical analysis.  If there are technique issues I've not addressed already just ask and I'll give more detail.  Thanks in advance for all your help!







jpchisari's picture

Try a final dough temp of 75 deg 2 hr ferment or - 80 deg 1.5 hr ferment Also a higher oven temp of 400 should give you a better initial oven spring. When do you add salt to mixer?

I aslo make my wheat bread using instant yeast, 1.5% straight dough and no poolish, and get great volume. My original formula calls for 3.75% Fresh Yeast.



Fly's picture

     I've been adding it for the initial mix.  I know that I'm not doing a true autolyse, but I use Kosher salt and I was finding that adding it later led to a lot of tearing of the dough during kneading.  By adding it with the water the salt dissolves before kneading.  In practice, all my "autolyse" does is give the flour time to absorb the water before kneading.

mrfrost's picture

I think you may be too optimistic as to your expectations on the height of the loaves in relation to how much dough you are using per loaf(1 lb), the size of the loaf pans, and the 50 % ww recipe.

Just as a comparison, in the Peter Reinhart BBA challenge, many participants made the "Light Whole Wheat" recipe. It is(or can be) a very high rising loaf. It is about 66% bread flour/33 % whole wheat. If you do a search, you can find images of some hugely risen loaves. However, the recipe makes, for a single loaf, 31 oz of dough, to be baked in an 8.5 x 4.5" pan.

If your loaves are truly dense, I'm guessing you just need to develope the gluten more through longer kneading. Make sure not to over proof. Maybe try underproofing, just a little.


Fly's picture

This is EXACTLY the type of answer I'm looking for!  Thank you!

Are thre any rules of thumb for dough-weight by pan size?  I end up with around    1.5 lbs in each pan.  Sounds like I could possibly put all 3 lbs into my 10x5 pan, but I'd worry that it would be too dense.  I do want the final bread to be a little lighter than it is now, but not as light as Wonder, et al.  I went ahead and added a pic to my original post...


mrfrost's picture

Just depends on the size and shape loaf you are looking for, in relation to the recipe. As you can see, you are probably not going to get quite the rise of the BBA light wheat, as you have less bread flour. You are probably going to need about 2 lbs of dough to get the "squarish" type loaf you seem to be looking for, in the 9" pans.

Although I have no experience with a 10", it seems like, with your recipe, the 3 lbs of dough may be about right.

This is my loaf of the BBA light wheat, made with 38 oz of dough in a 9 x 5 pan. Again, in my opinion, Reinhart developed this recipe to be an impressive riser. All things being equal, your recipe is not going to have quite the rise:



flournwater's picture

One aspect of your post jumps out at me, and that is your focus on the dough rising to "fill the pan".  If you're priority is for them to rise to fill the pan rather than rise to double or nearly double your problem may be in under or over proofing. Just a thought; for what it's worth.

Fly's picture

I'd guess that after scaling and panning the dough is roughly 30% of the pan volume, but it may even be as low as 25%.  This would be someplace where knowledge and practice are not connecting for me.  I know that final proof should see the dough double in size, or perhaps just under.  Yet I also know that the quantity of dough I put in each pan would need to at least triple in volume to fill it.  Looking at it that way I'm getting good performance from the dough, but I'm expecting too much from it!  Thanks to you, as well.

jstreed1476's picture

I've had better luck with making the poolish with the whole grain flour and adding the bread/ap flour afterward. I also start the poolish with very warm water and add the yeast after it has cooled down to room temp. Not sure if that's endorsed by all but it seems to work for me most of the time.

Maybe also do the stretch-and-fold at greater intervals? When I use a similar recipe, I do mine at 45 and 90 minutes--the last right before a 10 minute pre-shaping rest. Seems easier to stretch it while still maintaining volume.

yozzause's picture

great expectations I think our TFL folk have hit the nail on the head for you. The dough piece needs to be bigger our standard loaf tin here is 10" x 3.5" at the base 11" x 4.5" at the top and that takes a dough piece weighing 2lb 4ozs or 36ozs.
Unless for decorative reasons i would not slash the loaf,OR if you do get in and do it early.
i too would poolish the whole wheat too rather than the flour as it will be better able to absorb the water into the bran etc.I would also consider doing it as a straight out regular dough and not bother with stretch and folds as it is not a particularly long fermentation period and basicly not a sour dough that you are making. Allow a normal full bulk fermentation and take the dough at its peak.
If you are able to get some gluten and you like the well risen loaf that you get with your 100% white flour doughs then this will help.
I would agree in a higher finished dough temp keep the yeast in its comfort zone, if you are in a cold weather area 78 DEG FARENHEIT finish is not to warm.
The picture of your bread looks fine and the proof of the pudding is the family loves it.
The good thing is as this is your everyday bread you can try these suggested changes 1 at a time, i would even suggest you draw up a little chart with what you are wanting to achieve and get the whole family to participate on whether you are going in the right direction.
Just a thought try some Molasis or dark brown sugar instead of your sugar.
I would also be inclined to bake hotter and quicker
regards Yozza

spsq's picture

but it looks to me like you have a great - and soft - crumb.  I'm seriously betting on too little dough in the pan. 

Fly's picture

I was definitely not using enough dough.  I first successfully tried the light wheat recipe linked above, then used my own 50/50 recipe listed above (substituting 12oz of the water with milk), putting all 3 lbs of dough into my 10x5 pan.  The resulting bread was wonderful!  The family agreed after the Reinhart recipe that the preferred the flavor of the 50/50, as do I.  One big upshot is that when I did my recipe a couple days ago I dispensed with the poolish.  Start to finish was only about 5 hours with no loss of flavor.  I'm sure the butter, sugar, and milk helped there.