The Fresh Loaf

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What are the principles for a lighter/softer crumb?

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nfierman's picture
nfierman

What are the principles for a lighter/softer crumb?

My whole wheat breads, even with 1/2 or more general purpose flour, come out pretty dense.  I am looking for a lighter, softer crumb.  What are the key principles for doing that?  Thanks

BettyR's picture
BettyR

in my opinion for a light and fluffy whole wheat loaf is...


1) You have to have plenty of moisture.


2) Your gluten development has to be strong enough to support all that moisture.


3) I know I said two most important but I have also found that making one really big loaf instead of two smaller ones helps to keep some of that moisture inside the bread. I have never taken any pictures of my everyday bread because my way of making my bread is so different from what I read on these forums that I never really thought anyone would be interested...but I will be making bread again tomorrow and if you want to see it I will take pictures.


 


I use the least expensive all purpose flour for my daily baking that I can find and around here that's a 25 pound bag for $6.00 at the local farmer's market. I mill my own whole wheat. I make all the bread and bread type products that we eat so I use a lot of flour. I can't afford to pay $3.50 for 5 pounds of AP flour so I splurge on the wheat berries that I buy to make our everyday sandwich bread with. I also buy vital wheat gluten (in bulk...cheaper that way) to add to my AP flour so I can get that structure that I need for a really soft and fluffy loaf of sandwich bread...and I use a lot of it.


 


This is the recipe that I use for my sandwich bread.


 

Whole Wheat Honey Bread


2 heaping tablespoons sugar

1/4-cup oil

1/3-cup honey

1/2 stick butter (2-ounces)  – chopped

1-teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups scalded milk

1/2-cup cool water

2 large cold eggs (100 to 110-grams)– beaten

1 – pound all-purpose flour

(4-1/2 ounces) vital wheat gluten

1-tablespoon (1/2 ounce) yeast

12 – ounces whole-wheat flour

 

In the bowl of my Kitchen Aid mixer I add the sugar, oil, honey, butter, salt and scalded milk. Beat on low speed with the paddle attachment until the butter has melted then add the cool water and the cold eggs. Add the all purpose flour, vital wheat gluten and the yeast and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes.

 

Switch to the dough hook and add the whole-wheat flour…mix and knead until the dough has come together very well.

 

Place dough in pan of bread machine and select the dough cycle. When cycle has finished form 1 large torpedo shaped loaf and place it on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spray well with cooking oil spray and let rise for 35 minutes.

 

Bake 375° oven for 39 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 190°.

 

Place on cooling rack to cool. When bread is completely cooled cut the loaf in half and place in two plastic bread bags. The loaf will be too large to fit in one bag. I try to get 4 to 5 uses out of each plastic bag before I toss them.

 

 

nfierman's picture
nfierman

Hi, thank you so much! 


On the gluten development, do you think I may not be kneading enough?  I either do it by hand or with a dough hook. 

nfierman's picture
nfierman

I forgot, I would like to see pictures.  Thanks agan

BettyR's picture
BettyR

but if your flour doesn't have enough gluten in it to start with it really doesn't matter how much you knead it. So you have to start with a flour that has a high enough protein content or add more to it as I do. I have no idea why some people on this forum frown on adding extra protein to their bread but I find it a wonderful luxury. We never had it before bread machines became popular and stores started stocking it on their shelves to put in bread machine recipes. Vital wheat gluten is a great source of extra protein that is sometimes used as a substitute for meat in some recipes for people who follow a vegetarian diet. You also must have plenty of moisture to make a soft crumb and without the extra gluten my dough would be a big gloppy mess.


 


I will take pictures tomorrow when I'm making my bread and post them in the evening.


Betty


 


 

BettyR's picture
BettyR

 

 

Steps for Making Honey Wheat Bread

 


***Mix together in mixer bowl:


2 heaping tablespoons sugar


1/4-cup oil


1/3-cup honey


1/2 stick butter (2-ounces)  – chopped


1-teaspoon salt


1-1/2 cups scalded milk


***Beat on low speed until butter is melted…Then add while mixer is running:


1/2-cup cool water


2 large cold eggs (100 to 110-grams)– beaten


***Then add:


1 – pound all-purpose flour


(4-1/2 ounces) vital wheat gluten


1-tablespoon (1/2 ounce) yeast


***And beat on medium speed for 5 minutes



***Then add:


12 ounces whole wheat flour


***Mix with dough hook for about 3 minutes or until dough starts to climb the hook.



***Transfer dough to bread machine and select dough cycle. Allow machine to finish kneading the dough and proof it.




***Degas dough by turning machine back on for a couple of minutes and letting the dough paddles do the work for you. Close the lid and let the dough relax for about 5 minutes.



***Shape the loaf and place on the pan




***Proof the loaf for 35 minutes




***Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 39 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 190°  


***Cool completely


***Cut through the middle to make two loaves



***Make a really yummy sandwich





 


 


 

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

I see no one has specifically mentioned two very key components to a soft, traditional sandwich bread:  fat and/or milk.  These ingredients serve to soften the crumb.  I regularly make 60-70% whole wheat using a recipe that includes both vegetable oil and milk, and the result is a soft, but still substantial crumb so that it holds up to things like peanut butter.



So if the bread recipe you use doesn't include milk, try adding it.  And if it doesn't use fat/oil, or not much, try increasing it.

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I second using dairy i.e. milk, powdered milk, cottage cheese etc instead of water.  You may even want to read about water roux (Tangzhong) method that produces very soft and fluffy crumb. 


Al




ananda's picture
ananda

Hi


It is not easy to make soft wholewheat bread.   Incorporating fat in the formula will definitely help, so too milk/milk powder.


One technique I really like is to introduce autolyse for wholemeal.   My logic is that the extra bran, fibre and minerals, germ etc. all need extra water to that needed by the starchy endosperm of white flour.   The dry matter needs a longer time period to assimilate this water.   For a good quality wholemeal flour I can achieve 72% hydration quite easily using this technique.   This is for a genuine 100% wholemeal loaf.   Following autolyse it needs good vigorous mixing, but by hand is fine.


I have different ideas to BettyR about flour quality and use of vital wheat gluten, although I do not say there is one best way.   Make your own mind up please.   I prefer to select top quality flour in the first place.   That way there is no need for any additives such as VWG.


Best wishes


Andy

sphealey's picture
sphealey

This bread got extensive discussion a few years ago and works well for me:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2453/plain-ol-wheat-sandwich-bread


(page down until you find the link to the Google spreadsheet with the correct formula).


For this recipe I have been mixing the whole wheat flour with an equal weight of water, a tiny pinch of yeast, and a few tablespoons of my sourdough starter and letting it preferment for a few hours or overnight. This removes any last hint of bitter wheat taste in my experience.


[updated - I had the wrong link.  It is important to use the spreadsheet as the formula was corrected in it]


sPh

Sustainable Eats's picture
Sustainable Eats

My problem with my bread is that the crumb is almost too soft and moist.  It makes it hard to spread cold peanut butter on the bread without tearing so I've been playing around with a mash but still not happy yet with the results.  This is my recipe:  http://www.sustainableeats.com/2009/03/30/100-whole-grain-bread-soaked.html.


I soak the grains overnight which reduces the phytic acid and allows the moisture to really penetrate.  I use a hard red or white wheat berry with a stone grinder set as finely as possible but still stone ground so fairly coarse grain.


I also use some acidic medium in the soak, I prefer whey since it doesn't sour the bread which my family can't stand.  I use dairy for the liquid and add 2 tablespoons of butter, both of which work as dough conditioners.


It makes an amazingly moist 100% whole wheat loaf.