The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help! Cannot get tall loaf with 100% Whole Wheat

Dgrock's picture
Dgrock

Help! Cannot get tall loaf with 100% Whole Wheat

I've been baking up a storm this summer.  I've had some wonderful results with no knead bread and Brother Juniper's Three Seed bread. However, I've failed miserably with my attempts at a nice tall sandwich loaf using mostly or all whole wheat flour.  I've used several recipes from Laurel's Kitchen Bread book.  I've followed the directions to a "T", kneading for long periods of time, using whole wheat bread flower, using an overnight starter, etc.  I've tried letting the bread rise in room temperature and in warmer temps above my garage.  I've allowed for longer rising time, tried increasing the amount of yeast, but to no avail.  Sometimes the bread will look like it's rising nicely during the first or sceond rise but then do little or even fall during the final proof. This has been the case with 100% WW and any bread that has more wheat than white.


One thing I've noticed is that the total amount of flour used in Laurel's Bread Book is much smaller than other books (maybe 5 cups for two loaves compared 7 or 8 in other books). It's been a while, but I've used The Bread Bible which has a 100% WW recipe that uses 8+ cups of flour.  I believe this did yield a taller loaf. 


I'm really aiming for a nice 100% (or mostly WW) that is nice and tall, rises slowly and doesn't use too much yeast.  Am I dreaming?


Any suggestions would be much appreciated.  Thanks!

Ford's picture
Ford

First -- 100% whole wheat dough, in my experience, does NOT rise as much as 50% WW.  Making a soaker of the WW and leaving it in the refrigerator over-night will help.


Mike Avery has a recipe that gives good results, but you still will not get the rise of white bread.  See: http://www.sourdoughhome.com.


Look for recipes on left column; click; then find 100% whole Wheat Bread.  It is easier than Reinhart's recipe and give about the same results.


Ford

Whole Grain Mama's picture
Whole Grain Mama

I have been baking 100% whole grain bread for years (in a machine) and have just started getting into artisan breads via this site. I mill my own wheat and have had great results (granted it took awhile to adjust). I wholly recommend Marilyn Moll of www.urbanhomemaker.com bread recipe. It's 100% whole wheat and comes out beautifully! She even has plenty of pics. I hope that helps.


My everyday sandwich bread recipe is as follows:


1 3/4 C water (or half water half milk when I make it into cinnamon raisin bread)


3 T oil (I use EVOO but also use coconut oil sometimes)


1 1/2 T raw honey


5 cups WW flour 


2 tsp salt


2 tsp yeast


~3 tsp gluten 


This has never come out like a brick for me and when you use milk/water it's more like a soft cake consistancy. This usually makes a 2 lb loaf for me, but I can get 24 small rolls or a nice size (rather flat) boule. This is our "daily bread" :) And for the cinn. raisin bread I add 3/4 C raisins, 3 tsp. cinnamon, and a little raw sugar or more honey for sweetness.


I hope this helps out!


 

Dgrock's picture
Dgrock

Thanks to you both for your advice.  I'll give both recipes a try.  The more I look at the other recipes, the more I'm realizing my recipes may be short on flour.  Two 1.5 loaves using only 5.25 cups of flour?  And some of yours use almost as much for one loaf!?  Something to explore.


Thanks again

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

Try all the tricks in the book!  


For a high, light and handsome 100% whole wheat loaf, I put an egg in and about 2 T. milk powder, usually buttermilk powder.  Gluten helps too, but I usually don't think to put it in, and even if I do, I think 1/2 tsp. per loaf is enough, nothing like the 2 T. or so I see in some recipes. I also put in a tablespoon or two per loaf of potato flour to keep the bread moist, or a little bit of grain (1/3 cup oatmeal or cornmeal, etc.) soaked in hot water till cool.


Three cups of bread flour or so make a nice 8 x 4 sandwich loaf.  I also do an autolyse to allow the flour to hydrate fully before kneading.


Happy experimenting!

General Store Guy's picture
General Store Guy

I, too, find great results from Marilyn Moll's recipe, but I also add dough enhancer. Another help is to use narrow bread pans (Norpro for regular loaves, Chicago Metallic mini loaf pans for small loaves). Heavy whole grains tend to fall in wider pans.

jrudnik's picture
jrudnik

It might not be the amount of flour, but as Whole Grain Mamma said in her recipe: the vital wheat gluten might help. I know that where I live Hodgson Mills sells it. The Healthy Bread In Five Minutes a day uses it in nearly (every?) recipe and I happen to have a lot on hand.

rayel's picture
rayel

Hi Dgrock, check out txfarmer's yogurt bread, and featherpuff bread, and you'll know it is possible to get high rising loaves with 100% whole wheat. Both were Laurel's recipes, How she tweaked them to get them there is the question. Two weeks ago I baked the Buttermilk bread from Laurel's and got better than my other recent results, with no added gluten, just a straight dough per her recipe, and keeping it a bit on the wet side. The flour for this loaf was a bit finer than I had been using, plus fresher yeast than I had been using.

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

I agree -- Laurel's Featherpuff bread (with cottage cheese) is oh-so-light!  It was the recipes in her book that gave me my first success with whole wheat bread, over 20 years ago.  I'll never forget pulling that first lovely, light loaf from the oven -- what joy!  

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

I just made thsi featherpuff bread a couple weeks ago and it was super dense - not light at all. Probably the heaviest bread I've ever made and I always use 100% whole wheat. Wonder where I went wrong?

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

Hmm.... It was a favorite of mine for a long while, when I had cottage cheese in the house.  


I wonder what kind of flour or wheat you use?  Do you weigh your ingredients?  When I made it years ago, I did not weigh since I didn't have a scale, but if I made it again now (which I might soon!) I will use the weight measurements she gives.


Does the dough seem stiff and dense to you, or soft and slack?  I remember this dough as being springy. Do you knead with a machine?

rayel's picture
rayel

This is yogurt bread from an overnight sponge. recipe yields 2 loaves.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I wonder if part of the answer is lurking in your question about the quantity of flour in Laurel's recipes?  Since I don't have the book, I can't look up the information but perhaps you could.  What loaf pan size does Laurel recommend for her recipe?  If she specifies a 4x8 pan and you are using a 9x5 pan, then your loaves will not look tall because they cannot fill up that volume.


The other thing that caught my attention was your statement that the dough does well during the first and second rises, after which it will "then do little or even fall during the final proof."  That suggests over-proofing prior to baking, which is especially easy to do when you want a smaller amount of dough to expand enough to fill a larger pan. 


While I have seen recipes that call for two bulk rises before shaping and then a final proof, I'm not convinced that the more typical approach of one bulk rise followed by a final rise after shaping doesn't work just as well.  There's also less possibility for the yeast to run out of food during the final rise.


So, I'd first suggest that you check the book to see what pan size is recommended.  Once you know whether your equipment matches the recommendation, you can proceed to experimenting with flour quantities, number of rises and, in all cases, keeping a close eye on the dough to make sure that it does not overproof before baking.


 I'll also encourage you to use a scale for measuring ingredients, since volume measurements are obviously open to interpretation.  Granted, Laurel did not write her recipes that way but you can figure out before very long whether she fluffed or packed the flour in her measuring cups.


Happy baking,


Paul

rayel's picture
rayel

PMcCool's advice is the most helpfull. Weighing is the best way to give yourself the assurance that those ingredient qty's are not part of the problem. When grams are given, I"ll go with weighing. I have measured my flour, for instance, with the most accuracy I can muster, then weighed it. It is fun (at least for awhile)seeing how many tablespoons need to be removed. I like giving the dough a 2nd rise, before the shaping, because it has made the dough riper by then, and it becomes more user friendly. Also, it is still not too late to make tiny adjustments in adding more water, if it still feels like it needs it. Usually by pushing the center down to form a dish, & brushing it on the top.(I said tiny) When pans are indicated they are usually 8x4 in., In Laurel's book. Really good point. The final proof is a touchy, and "touch", thing, that be-devils many home bakers. Laurel's advice is about half the time as the 2nd rise, but she adds, you can be bolder with buttermilk bread and give it a bit longer. Regarding touch, that little bit of information, at the tip of your finger, when you press gently,  really is a learning process all it's own. One success, and all the questions about what went right, really help with your future bakes. Happy baking,  Ray

Renee B's picture
Renee B

I had exactly the same problem with the loaves I was baking rom Bernard Claytons book I found out that all I had to do was use a smaller loaf pan or a larger amount of dough and cut down my  risings.  It was really just getting overproofed and when I put them into the oven the loaves fell right down. 


I'll give you the recipe I use now and it never fails me, but take it with a grain of salt because I am, by no means, an expert.  For 1 9X5 pan I use:


1/4c honey


1/2c buttermilk


11/4c hot water


2t salt


2pkg AD yeast


4-6c WW flour


I  dissolve the honey in the water and add the buttermilk and salt, then I add the yeast.  Next I add about two cups of flour and let it mix at a higher speed for about four minutes to work up some gluten.  I have made this recipe a hundred times and I know my flour so I can just quickly add in another three cups of flour and any add ins I want like walnuts etc.  Lately, I have been using 1/4c of my liquid wild yeast starter in with the wet ingredients for some extra zing and rise. (and because I have to get rid of some of it, it multiplies in the dark like baling twine).  I let this dough, which is a little soft and sticky, sit at room temperature for about 20min then stick it in the fridge overnight.  I take it out in the morning, shape it using some AP flour to get a good consistency, stick it in my bread pans, score it and let it rise for about an hour.  I spray it with water and I bake it at 375 until its done.  It gets great oven spring with a verticle score. 


 


I recently bought two Henry Watson Pottery original suffolk bread bakers and I love them.  They're clay and the shape of them kind of funnels the dough out toward the top so you get a really plump shape. 


 


 


 

Renee B's picture
Renee B

P.S.  I also add a couple of tsp wheat gluten and I sift my flour to get rid of some of the bran.

Dgrock's picture
Dgrock

A few weeks ago, after 10 fallen loaves, I put the Laurel book away, convinced I'd tried everything.  With all of your suggestions I'll be back at it soon, paying careful attention to the measurements and rise time.  I'm beginning to think (thanks to Paul and others) that over-proofing may be the culprit.  I will repost sometime next week (hopefully with pictures).  Thanks to all for your time and advice....this bread baking thing is really addictive! 

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

Yesterday I baked Featherpuff bread from Laurel's book, which I haven't done in years.  When I used to bake it, I didn't use a scale, just measured.  And I think that's where the problem is.  


The recipe calls for 5 cups of flour, or 750 grams.  Well, that's 150 grams per cup, and my 'cups' are nowhere near 150 grams, more like 120 grams (I mill my own flour in a Nutrimill).  In fact, I tried to pack the flour in the cup to make 150 grams, and couldn't.  So I used 650 grams instead of 750, but even then I had to add at least 1/4 cup additional water, and still the dough was rather stiff.  A typical cup of whole wheat flour for me would weigh 120 or so grams, making a total of 600 grams... a huge difference in the recipe!


I know when I made this years ago, I just paid attention to the dough to see what it was needing.  Maybe another time I will make it again and weigh my ingredients and write them down!


Good luck!

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner


PMcCool on July 15, 2010 - 5:42am.


[…] What loaf pan size does Laurel recommend for her recipe?  If she specifies a 4x8 pan and you are using a 9x5 pan, then your loaves will not look tall because they cannot fill up that volume.



The question is, how are the pans measured?  My own pans are are 4×8 at the bottom, and 5×9 at the top, and 2½ in tall.  So, what is their nominative size?


gary

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

And I don't know that I have a definitive answer.  My guess would be to measure across the bottom of the pan.  Since yours are 2.5" deep, they would probably be termed 4x8 pans.  This site has a really helpful table of pan sizes and volumes (although it doesn't answer the dimension question), about half-way down.


I hope that helps.


Paul

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

Thanks, Paul.  I'm inclined to go with the intermediate size, 8½ × 4½ × 2½, due to what it takes, 24 to 27 oz. of white dough, to get a proper crown.  But, the definitive answer will come from measuring the liquid volume.  If I have the smaller pan, I need to look to my dough. :(


//edit: have measured, and found the volume to be 6 cups, therefore the intermediate size.


cheers,


gary

Dgrock's picture
Dgrock

I tried Laurel's 100% WW buttermilk bread this morning.  It calls for 5 1/2 cups of flour.  I used 6 1/2 and added more water to get the right consistency. The dough rose for 1.5 hours and then I split the dough. 3/4 of the dough went into the loaf pan (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2)  & the remaining 1/4 went free form (see picture).  I let the shaped dough rise for another 45 minutes before baking.  This is the first time I was able to get tall loaf of 100% ww.  I'm still thinking I shoud be able to do this without adding more flour and by splitting the dough into two loaf pans.  I do not yet have a scale for weighing my flour, but that is next on my list.


 


rayel's picture
rayel

Hi Dgrock, nice loaves. What happened to the middle rise? Can't argue with success, but it should result in a lighter loaf. Yours look great by the way. One more benefit from 2nd rise, the dough will feel right without the extra cup of flour, take it on faith, till you try it. The yeast will not give up, if that is a concern. It looks like you are making great headway. Try using the amt. of flour called for, and hold back a little water.  The flavor is great, yes?  Ray

Dgrock's picture
Dgrock

Thanks Ray,


The taste and texture were very nice.  I did try the recipe as is with the recommended amount of flour, but it never rose much above the loaf pans.  Could it be that my 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 are too large?  Laurel's calls for 8 x 4....didn't think it would make that much of a difference.  I skipped the second rise this time b/c I was thinking the yeast may have run out of steam with the loaves that didn't rise.  So many variables!  Thanks and I'll be trying this again.

rayel's picture
rayel

Hi Dgrock, I too, wouldn't have thought that small pan size difference would have mattered. Clearly something is amiss. Your recent success, shows that many things went right, and the stars alligned for you, as is often the case at my house. You know, the Hail Mary pass, so to speak. There isn't one right way, it seems. I think your adjusting, first the flour then the water, is how several of my sessions went with whole wheat. Your intuition matters. I am sure the more often you bake this bread, the more successes you'll have. Your breads were knock outs. I am impressed.  Ray

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

As mentioned above, the 8½ × 4½in pan is 50% larger in volume than the 8 × 4in loaf pan, and the 9 × 5in is double the volume.


cheers,


gary