The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Another newbie attempt at whole wheat

joeg214's picture
joeg214

Another newbie attempt at whole wheat

I've actually had 2 whole wheat breads since my last bread baking post.  The "baguettes" were not particularly pretty, but they tasted fine (especially when used as pizza).  see: http://pojosbreadblog.blogspot.com/ 

The bread after the "passable" baguettes was also 25% whole wheat but at a 75% hydration with a preferment (100% hydration poolish of whole wheat).  Unfortunately, my skill level is nil when it comes to forming any shape when the dough is that sticky.  I ended up with a nasty looking baguette and something more akin to a ciabatta than a batard.  Both took too many tries to form, were most definitely over-proofed and the results reflected it.  In my newbie attempts to date, these were my only two true failures.

 

Last night I put together a 62% hydration dough using the 25% / 75% whole wheat flour to white.  The fermentation took place in the fridge overnight (around 12 hours).  This was so much easier to form into a boule!  I let this proof after forming for about 40 minutes (while the oven pre-heated).  The finished bread looked wonderful.  This is the only one I've made so far that had a nice oven spring.  I used a combination of normal bake and convection bake at different oven temps  (to control the color of the crust).    Here's what it looked like:

 

 Now the crumb was, as I expected, somewhat denser than the higher hydration doughs I've made but it was not "heavy" if you know what I mean.  I'm guessing that the addition of the olive oil makes it that way.   While I did steam the oven for 15 minutes or so and sprayed the bread / oven 4 times during the bake, the crust was not as "crunchy" as I thought it would be (although it had a very gentle crispiness to it).  The flavor however was exceptional!

I guess I'll keep working on this particular hydration until I get the hang of handling it.  All in all, I think this one was was my best to date.  I'll stick with a winner for now. :)

 

Here's the formula (I didn't completely fill out the form, but you'll get the idea:

http://pojosbreadblog.blogspot.com/

Syd's picture
Syd

It looks like you got some nice oven spring there.  And the crumb is pretty much what you would expect from a 62% hydration loaf. 

Steaming prevents the crust of the loaf from setting too soon and thus allows the loaf to expand to its proper volume.  It is only useful in the first 5-10 minutes of baking becuase after this the yeast has been killed off by the heat of the oven and the bread is no longer expanding.  It is not going to bring about a crisp crust by itself.  It will contribute to a thinner crust by keeping it moist for longer.  But if you want a thicker, crisper crust that stays crisper for longer, you need to bake longer to drive off more of the moisture in the loaf.  If there is too much moisture left in the loaf, as the loaf cools, the retained moisture will soften the crust over time.  A lot of people suggest leaving the loaf in the oven for an extra 5 or so minutes at the end of baking.  First turn the oven off and then crack the door open and inch or two.  This will have a drying effect on the loaf without browning it any further. 

I think you are wise to stick with this hydration for a while.  Once you are comfortable with the dough at this hydration you can start to increase the water content.

If you want more oven spring, under proove slightly.  That way there will be more room for expansion in the oven.

Cold dough from the fridge might, actually, be quite difficult to shape in that it is quite stiff.  Allow it to warm up slightly (for half an hour or so) before you try to shape.  Overly hot dough will also be difficult to shape for just the opposite reason: it will be too soft and maybe sticky. 

All the best,

Syd

Syd's picture
Syd

It looks like you got some nice oven spring there.  And the crumb is pretty much what you would expect from a 62% hydration loaf. 

Steaming prevents the crust of the loaf from setting too soon and thus allows the loaf to expand to its proper volume.  It is only useful in the first 5-10 minutes of baking becuase after this the yeast has been killed off by the heat of the oven and the bread is no longer expanding.  It is not going to bring about a crisp crust by itself.  It will contribute to a thinner crust by keeping it moist for longer.  But if you want a thicker, crisper crust that stays crisper for longer, you need to bake longer to drive off more of the moisture in the loaf.  If there is too much moisture left in the loaf, as the loaf cools, the retained moisture will soften the crust over time.  A lot of people suggest leaving the loaf in the oven for an extra 5 or so minutes at the end of baking.  First turn the oven off and then crack the door open and inch or two.  This will have a drying effect on the loaf without browning it any further. 

I think you are wise to stick with this hydration for a while.  Once you are comfortable with the dough at this hydration you can start to increase the water content.

If you want more oven spring, under proove slightly.  That way there will be more room for expansion in the oven.

Cold dough from the fridge might, actually, be quite difficult to shape in that it is quite stiff.  Allow it to warm up slightly (for half an hour or so) before you try to shape.  Overly hot dough will also be difficult to shape for just the opposite reason: it will be too soft and maybe sticky. 

All the best,

Syd

joeg214's picture
joeg214

Hi Syd,

First of all, thanks for the feedback.  I really appreciate it...

All of the steaming, spraying took place during the first 15 minutes.  I was under the impression that the added moisture somehow contributed to a crispy crust.  I did leave it in the oven after the bake was completed with the oven off and the door cracked open (I had a final internal temp of 210F).  However, the initial crust was somewhat lost on the cooling rack.   

Quick question... How would you have baked it?  How long to proof?

I used 600g of total flour (25% WW) with 62% hydration.  I should also mention that I added 30g of honey and 8g of olive oil.   As I showed on my worksheet in my original post, I preheated the oven to 550F with conventional heat with my baking stone on the 2nd rack from the bottom.  I steamed for the first 15 minutes or so (a pan with one cup of water on the lowest rack and misting) and then went to convection heat at 465F (thinking the dry heat would help the crust?).  I did this for 15 minutes and then went to 365F for the final 15 min.  Since I've made a couple of breads this size before, I know that I'll reach a good internal temperature in around 40-45 minutes.  This particular temperature "plan" was just made up as I went along as I was afraid of darkening the crust too much). I'm thinking I should have left it in longer.

And yes, I'll definitely stick with the lower hydration dough and practice my forming :)  At 62%, I ended up with a very nice bread and I didn't have to go through the stress of trying to work with a sticky mess :)

Thanks for your help!

Joe

 

Syd's picture
Syd

You're welcome Joe.  First of all, sorry for the double post. :)

However, the initial crust was somewhat lost on the cooling rack.

That means not enough of the moisture was driven off during baking.  Eventually, even the crispest crust is going to go soft (especially if you store it in a plastic bag) and it isn't desirable to bake off all the moisture (unless you want a dry brick) but I always aim for it being able to maintain its crispness, at least, for the day it was baked on.  If the crust has gone soft during the cooling process, then it means you could have dried it out a bit more.

Quick question... How would you have baked it?  How long to proof?

I usually work with about 525g of total flour and a hydration of around 71%.  For a loaf this size I bake at 230C with steam (fan off) for 10 mins then I lower the temp to about 210C, turn the fan on, remove the steaming apparatus and bake for a further 35 - 40.  If the loaf is sufficiently browned, I will turn off the oven for the last five minutes, crack the door open a little and let it dry out.  Sometimes I will do this for closer t0 8 minutes. 

I usually only spritz the oven when I load the loaf because if you have to keep on  opening the oven door to spritz, you lose a lot of heat each time and that will affect oven spring.  I use Sylvia's wet towel method for steaming and it provides more than enough steam so that I don't have to open the door to spray. If you can't provide enough steam, then I would suggest that you bake in a covered Dutch Oven or cover your boule with a high roasting pan, stainless steel mixing bowl, etc.  This will trap the steam evaporating from the loaf as it bakes and have the same effect as steaming the loaf.  In leaky ovens this produces better results.  Just make sure whatever you cover you loaf with has enough height so that the loaf doesn't stick to it (it won't be pretty if it does). 

How long to proof?  That is an answer that depends on so many variables that it is very difficult to answer. dmsnyder always advises to watch the dough, not the clock.  How quickly your dough is ready will depend on; how much yeast/starter you used, what kind of flour you are using, how much salt or sugar you added, the temperature of the liquid you used when you mixed the dough, the final dough temp after mixing, the room temp during bulk fermentation, and the list goes on and on.   Experience will be your best teacher here.  But I think you hit it spot on in the loaf you baked in this thread.  Your scoring has opened nicely.  If your score marks showed little or no opening, then you would have proofed it too little.  If  they are wide, gaping chasms, then you under prooved the loaf.  The usual test is to gently push your finger into the dough. If the indentation springs back quickly, it isn't proved enough.  If the indentation springs back slowly, then you should think about getting it in the oven.  And if the indentation doesn't spring back at all, or worse still, the loaf collapses like a tired balloon, then you have over prooved it.

Hope this helps,

Syd

joeg214's picture
joeg214

Thanks Syd...  That was extremely helpful and it's nice to know I'm on the right track.  I've certainly learned quite a bit over the last couple of weeks.  On top of that, my popularity is on the rise since I started baking.  The orders are coming in :)   

I'm going to give it another go tomorrow,  stick with my WW formula and the boule shape.  This way, I should be able to make some changes to the bake and see how that affects the crust.  I just need to get my baking done before the hurricane hits on Sunday morning :)  

Thanks again for your help.

Joe