The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Whole Wheat bread crumbling, help!

curvesarein's picture

Whole Wheat bread crumbling, help!

I am using the original recipe from 30 years ago that a mormon introduced me to and found on this forum. I am Using a Bosch Universal Mixer. After several days in the fridge I notice my bread is very crumbly. Could I be adding too much flour? Any other ideas?

AW's picture

I'm not sure what happened to your bread but as consolation if you want to try mine please do. It's a tried and true whole wheat sandwich bread. -Arlene

curvesarein's picture

I am trying to avoid white flour all together. I was wondering if it is because there are no preservatives in it.

AW's picture

It might be because there is not enough gluten development in a 100% whole wheat loaf. Someone smarter than me will have the answer.

curvesarein's picture

It could be that, but I am kneading for 10 minutes on speed 3, before I was using speed 2. I think I only need to develope it for 8 minutes, so maybe I am developing it too long.

clazar123's picture

Whole wheat flour has some unique characteristics that require a slight difference in technique when making a good loaf. I don't know what the recipe is that you are using but no matter what recipe, whole wheat flour needs a little more hydration than an AP flour ratio and also it needs time to just sit and absorb. The bran part of the shole wheat kernel takes a long time to absorb water and stay moist. You need to make the dough a little stickier than ususal for a dough and then just let it sit for at least 30 minutes but overnight is better.It will absorb the water and be a normal feeling dough. If you don't let the dough absorb the water then when you have baked a loaf,these unhydrated bits of bran will continue to absorb the moisture from the crumb of your loaf and it will become crumbly.

I often make my dough up,put it in a large oiled plastic container,seal it and put it in the refrig overnight. The next am it is mostly risen. Put the container on the counter until it is finished doubling,shape, proof and bake. As for timing-I make the dough up as late as 9PM,refrigerate until 7AM when it is removed from the refrig,baked by around noon (depending on how warm the house is).

Of course, adding eggs, milk, and oil will make a much softer loaf.But it still needs a soak.

So you may just need to increase the water slightly and rest the dough.

curvesarein's picture

Basic Whole Wheat Bread  (Makes 4 loaves)

Mill 10 Cups wheat on fine.

In mixer add: 

5 1/2 Cups Water
1/2    Cup oil
2/3    Cup honey
2 Tbsp salt

Blend the above, then add
9 Cups flour

3 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
    (proof the yeast in warm water with pinch of sugar or honey)

Blend and continue to add flour 1/2 Cup at a time till the dough cleans the sides of the bowl.  Then knead on low speed for 10 minutes.

Form into 4 loaves, place into greased/buttered/oiled 9" x 5" loaf pans and raise in oven preheated to 150F and turned off!  When the dough has a little more than doubled turn the oven on to 350F without removing the bread.  Bake 25-40 minutes, until done.

I think it is plenty wet enough as it sticks to my hands unless oiled. I see this says low speed for 10 minutes, maybe that has something to do with it, But this last batch I was making cinnamon rolls first and the rest of the dough sat for about 30 minutes before I formed it into loaves, so it was already rising and I had to punch it down.

mike owens's picture
mike owens

like someone said earlier,  i very well could be the gluten.  i was hooked on trying to get the perfect wheat loaf for ten years before i tried any other type of bread and i often had a crumbly loaf.   are you grinding your own wheat?  and what type.  if buying you also need to know what type.  typically a hard red winter which is very tasty does not have much protien, maybe 9 or 10 %.  a good spring wheat will produce consistently better texture for wheat.  sometimes i will add 1 cup in seven of hard red (for flavor) to a two loaf recipe and even then i notice a slight decline in crumb.  with all that said i have come across a company with great protien in thier winter wheat,  its called 'wheat montana', you can read about the specs on thier website. i just found them last year and i gave away most of the other wheat i had, i love it.  also if you are not opposed try adding a tbls of gluten for each cup of flour without changing any thing else and see if that gets you closer. that will help narrow down where your issues lie, then try soaking. or vs/vs 

Syd's picture

I agree with everything  clazar123 says.  I would just like to add:  don't store it in the fridge.  It is the worst place to keep bread.  If you can't eat it quick enough, cut the loaf in two and freeze one half.  When you want to eat it, let it defrost naturally at room temp.  You can then refresh it by spritzing it with a little water and putting it into a preheated oven for 5 to 10 mins, but I would be wary about doing this for too long if it were cut.  You might lose too much moisture from the cut end.  You would be better off just slicing it up for toast at that point. 

See what this article says about storing bread in the fridge.

curvesarein's picture

Thanks for the info and link. I had my bread in the fridge and the loaf I gave my girlfriend, she kept out, they both crumbled. So I think I must have done something different this last time. I was using up some wheat from Sprout's market. But I have used that wheat before, so that isn't it. But someone on another thread sent a blue ribbon recipe close to mine I am going to try. Marylin's bread. I think the link is on the thread where I asked for the recipe from 30 years ago. She has won many blue ribbons with it. It has a little more oil and some dough enhancer and gluten. She is also using the same machine as I am.

hanseata's picture

I agree with Syd, the fridge is not the right place to keep bread, I also find that it gets moldy faster.

Another thing that Clazar123 mentions - the difference between whole wheat and white flour. Before I baked my own breads I sometimes bought whole wheat breads from a health store - they were always brittle!

From Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads" I learned about working with pre-doughs, and how to soak part of the whole grain flour for several hours before making the final dough.

Whole wheat breads made with this technique are never brittle - and taste better, too.



Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

It looks like the dough is over 100% hydrated (wt of water/wt of flour) depending on what the cups of flour weigh.  Try 70 to73% hydration or 3 3/4 cups of water to 9 cups of flour that aren't packed at all - very lightly filled and leveled using a knife to scrape the top of the cup.  If you have a scale, try 1200 g flour to 850 g water.

The soaking recommended by hanseata above is a winning method for whole wheat breads.

curvesarein's picture

This seems to be getting more complicated. Someone needs to direct me to the forum that talks about this and remember I am using a Bosch Universal Machine,

Today I used the Blue Ribbon Recipe. I put my cinnamon rolls on top since they burned on the bottom last time and the bread on the bottom, Problem is my window on my oven is not easy to see through, so when I opened to check on my cinnamon rolls my bread fell! Have any suggestions on this. Should the cinnamon rolls and bread be baked seperately? I am warming the oven and then shutting off and putting the bread in there to raise. I didn't seem to have these problems in the beginning. (maybe it was flourgirls good wheat). But I have made bread since with other wheat that has been fine. The cinnamon rolls today were fantastic, haven't tried the bread yet, even though it did fall.