The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Texture help...Please??!!

j-me's picture

Texture help...Please??!!

I have what some may think is an odd request.  I can make 100% whole wheat bread that's light and soft and fluffy.  What I want is a sandwich loaf with a dense, moist crumb like Great Harvest's Honey Whole Wheat Loaf.  I don't want to add anything other than water, flour, yeast, salt and honey.  How do I achieve a moist, tight,dense crumb?  Is it in the shaping?  The grind of the flour?  Coarse?  Fine?  (I have a Nutrimill and have both hard red and white wheat)  Is it hydration? Rising time? oven temperature?  I'm all for experimenting.  That's what I've been doing  but I figure if someone already has the secret, I'll save myself some time.  I've had fairly decent results using the Artisan Bread in 5 method but I kind of want something that I can just do in my Bosch and not have it take more than 4-5 hours max.  I appreciate any/all words of wisdom.  Thanks!


cranbo's picture

Soft light and fluffy to me represents lots of yeast, relatively low hydration (60% and below), and some amount of fat (from butter, oil, milk, etc). 

I would try hydration first. Start at maybe 65% of total flour weight for the first round of tests. Especially if you're adding honey, which will increase the hydration slightly. If that's not enough, work your way up toward 70%. Note that your dough will start to get sticky at those hydrations, so wet/oiled handling rules apply. 

If your hydration gets too high you'll end up with fairly big holes in your crumb though. 

Also, if you want to maintain moisture in your crumb, consider adding pre-ferment to your final dough (whether a sourdough starter, biga, poolish, etc). I think 33% of your flour weight is a good place to start, and work your way up. 

Keep us posted on the results!

EDIT: BTW, it would help us to show pictures of the optimum crumb you'd like. There are lots of photos on this site you can point us to. 

j-me's picture

thanks for your suggestions cranbo.  Looking around I found a picture of what I want.  Something like this here.   I'm off to experiment again....

and on another note, what percentage of the total flour/water/yeast do people use for their sponges?  All the water, all the yeast, half the flour?  half the yeast?  just a little of everything?

cranbo's picture

Looks like the recipe is for Tassajara whole wheat bread (link here); the link was included on another TFL page. 

Most of the time my sponge weight is between 30-80% of the flour weight. I personally use very little yeast in my sponge.

Chuck's picture

For me a "sponge" means all the water, half the flour, and "all" the yeast. (The "sponge" method usually needs less yeast than the "plain" method. Recipes that explicitly mention a "sponge" already specify the right amount of yeast, but if you use the sponge method on a recipe that didn't expect it you may need to reduce the amount of yeast yourself.)

Of course things need to remain quite flexible; that's not a hard and fast rule. For example when trying to "adapt" recipes to the sponge method, I've sometimes found it necessary to either add part of the fat to the sponge too when the sponge was way too dry, or hold some of the water out of the sponge to use later when the sponge was way too wet.

clazar123's picture

You describe your loaf as soft and fluffy whole wheat.What is the recipe and technique you use for your loaf? It would be helpful to know to be able to give you some meaningful,more specific suggestions.

Are you looking for a moister,denser loaf like a pumpernickel?(spelling right?) The picture you have in the link looks like a nice sandwich loaf, which should have some softness to it without being crumbly. 

You can make any recipe a sponge recipe just by taking some of the flour and most/all of the water and letting it soak for a number of hours and even overnight.Add a little yeast (very little) and you have a preferment.

lepainjersey's picture

if you want that,try king arthur's classic 100% whole wheat recipe. that will definitely give you the results you're looking for. Here's the link if you're interested.

mrfrost's picture

Contains way more ingredients than specified.

Does make a great loaf though, and with seemingly the desired texture.

j-me's picture

so, I think what I needed was to post here on TFL because I just made a batch that I am completely happy with!  Woohoo.  I took some suggestions and then just "winged" it. Here's what I did:

3 c. cool water, 3 c. whole wheat med-coarse fresh ground flour, 3 tsp yeast.  I let that sponge for 1 hour.  Then added 1/2 c. honey, 3 tsp salt, 1 c warm water and 6 c. more flour.  I mixed this in my Bosch on speed 1 for 8 min.  Let rise in the mixer  for 1 hour, knocked it down and put it into a bowl to rise another hour, cut it in half to make 2 loaves (about 2 lb 9 oz each) put them into loaf pans to rise and then I baked them at 335 degrees for 40 minutes. 

I did use less yeast than I normally do (which I think enhanced the flavor of the wheat) and I usually don't use a coarse grind.  I'll just have to see if I have the same results the next time I try. 


Here's a picture of my loaf.  I had a little oven spring which poofed out the side a little but I don't care if it doesn't look pretty ;)

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