The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Beautiful Whole Wheat loaf with one major flaw

Karmel_Kuisine's picture

Beautiful Whole Wheat loaf with one major flaw

I'm not sure if this question belongs here, because it is a problem that seems to plague most of my loaves.

I made a beautiful 100% whole wheat loaf of bread. The recipe comes from The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book. It includes ingredients like potato flour (3 tablespoons), nonfat dry milk (¼ cup), butter (as always in KAF recipes).

I followed the recipe to the letter and was pleased with how beautifully it turned out. It rose like a dream. It tastes delicious too.

But try putting a slice in the toaster. When it pops up and you go to pick it up, it just falls apart.

I have this problem a lot. I have wondered if it's the butter....if substituting oil would result in a denser loaf. I seem to have better luck with a recipe book where the loaves call mostly for oil instead of butter.

I kneaded it as recommended. But how can I get better protein development so this doesn't happen? What's the trick here?

yozzause's picture

Hi Karmel

Why not try the same recipe again and use a 50% white 50% wholewheat to see if that gives you the desired strength in the crumb structure, whole meal with all the bitty pieces milled into the flour can have a tearing effect on the gluten strands and a separating effect on the baked structure. Well worth a try, butter is not your problem and for me is probably the best addition to bread followed closely by a quality olive oil.   

you didnt give quantities for the flour and butter to work out your ratios to the mik powder 1/4 cup and the potatoe flour 3 tablespoons.

regards Yozza

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

spelt loaf (also a whole wheat) is allowed to rise a long time after being shaped.  It seems the gluten will stretch and keep stretching and not fall and still pass the poke test when it's overproofed.  It literally rises itself apart.  

Try baking it sooner, not letting it rise so high before popping it into the oven and see if that helps.  

Sounds like you have a very stretchy flour.  :)


Karmel_Kuisine's picture

Can I substitute spelt flour for whole wheat & just keep the recipe the same otherwise?

I know spelt is considered an "ancient grain" but I'm not sure how it differs from wheat.

I guess no one agrees with my butter theory because I've mentioned it on the forum before and no one seems to think it could be the reason. It's just that butter differs so much in quality, and I don't fork out the cash for really good butter. Land O Lakes is as high quality as I go. Of course always unsalted.

I really WOULD like to start moving toward whole grains, but I've been known to throw a bit of bread flour in, and yes, that does usually help.

I'm gaining too much weight with all this homemade bread!!

clazar123's picture

The sandwiches that fall apart used to be my husband's biggest complaint.You didn't mention what was in your recipe so I don't know if you are making a lean or enriched loaf (fat,eggs,milk,potato flakes,white flour,etc). So,here are a couple ideas for you.

1. The overproofing MiniOven mentions is a distinct possiblitiy and you should follow that idea for any whole wheat.

2. When you make whole wheat, it takes a long time for the bran present in the flour to absorb water. Most people don't allow for this and bake the dough before this happens. As a result, the bran in the crumb proceeds to absorb the water and you end up with a crumbly structure. Look up "autolyse" in the search box. Fancy word for allowing the dough to sit for 1-24 hours before the first rise.Anything that lets the whole wheat flour soak up water for a period of time offers a better chance for having a non-crumbly crumb in the finished loaf.All different ways top do that.I make a WW dough that I put in the refrigerator overnight before the first rise.Proceed the next day and no prob with crumblies.It is an enriched loaf.

3. Add extra water to your usual recipe. WW dough should start it's early life stickier than reg bread dough. If you do this and simply let it rest for about 30-60 min after mixing, it will absorb the extra water, as previously mentioned.

4. 1 egg per loaf adds a LOT of softness to a loaf.

5. Oil, butter, lecithin all add some lubrication and softness. Butter, of course, tastes better.

6.Milk protein also softens crumb and provides moisture to the loaf.

7.Potatoes or potato flakes also do this (I have no expe with this but many people swear by it)

8. I use the AP flour at the end of the mix to get the right dough consistency since it absorbs water so quickly.

Someone will probably advise adding wheat gluten. This is probably not what you need to do. It makes for a chewier  bread (unless that is what you want.)

Overmixing (with a machine mixer) can cause the gluten to be stretchy and slack but that takes a LOT of time in the mixer-prob over 10 minutes on vigorous mixing).Unless you are a body builder-you can't overmix/overknead by hand.

So try some of these ideas and see what works.Sounds like you have the taste thing down so its a good start.