The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Kneading and cracked wheat.

  • Pin It
goer's picture
goer

Kneading and cracked wheat.

I hear all the time about kneading till smooth and silky. Cracked wheat makes kneading different. I started kneading yesterday at 4:30 and finished at 5:30. Now it wasn't a solid hour of kneading. I'd go 15 minutes then rest 5. So that said it would still want to tear when pulled or stretched. Then after eight hours of rising I popped it in the brick oven. Had a very active culture, but found the gas pockets in the bread weren't very defined or somewhat large. Wondering if I should have let it rise for another hour. Anyone mess with cracked wheat much here? Thanks

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

That's quite a workout!

While I haven't used cracked wheat, I have used cracked rye in some of my breads.  One key requirement is that the cracked grain be soaked, typically overnight, before mixing it into the rest of the dough.  That softens it greatly, reducing its tendency to absorb water from the surrounding dough and produce a dry bread.  It also reduces the tendency for the particles of grain to tear the gluten web, although that reduction can't be driven all the way to zero.

Did you give the dough a chance to relax for several minutes before trying to pull the window pane?  If the gluten were still "tight" from the kneading, that would also interfere with getting a classic window pane.

Depending on your formula, you may have the option of developing the dough prior to adding the cracked wheat.  That would let you get to the level of development you wish, and then mix enough to incorporate the cracked wheat.

The crumb you describe puzzles me.  After that much kneading, I would have expected a very uniform, smooth crumb, almost like a commercial sandwich loaf's crumb.  Some possibilities to consider: 1) Shaping did not produce an adequate gluten sheath.  2) The extended ferment (8 hours for an "very active" culture?) may have allowed the starter's acids to degrade the gluten in the dough.  How did the unbaked dough look/feel just before you put it into the oven?  How much had it expanded?

Paul

goer's picture
goer

At least soft till I start working out so I can knead this stuff. I do about 23lbs at a pop. Thanks for the info. I'll try soaking the cracked wheat tonight, as I plan on cooking tomorrow again. 

I do give the dough a relaxation time. You can feel it loosen up and relax. 

The crumb was as you mentioned very uniform. That's what I don't like. I wanted to see larger air pockets with the classic streaming upwards to escape the heat of the hearth. The unbaked dough was firm. It had expanded, but didn't double or anything. I add about 20% starter to the mix. I might try 30% to see what happens. You mentioned the CWheat tearing the gluten web. I had wondered about that and it it also prevented the bigger air pockets from forming.

Thank you very much.

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Some additional thoughts, goer:

1. The starter content, at about 20%, should be more than enough to leaven the dough in 8 hours of fermenting, assuming that ambient temperatures are higher than 70F/21C.  You have described the starter as "very active".  Could it be that the bread was actually over-proofed, instead of under-proofed?  In other words, that it had already expanded and fallen before going into the oven?

2. Unless you want shoulders like the Incredible Hulk's, you may want to consider a different kneading technique.  Click on the Handbook link at the top of the page to read about the stretch and fold technique.  It will be much easier with that large a dough mass than will the push-turn-fold-push method.  It will also help you in your quest to achieve a more open crumb.

3. While you have the handbook open, read about autolyse, too.  That will also cut down on the amount of kneading that is required.

4. While an open crumb structure can be achieved across a range of hydration levels, it is easier to do with a bread whose hydration is higher than with one whose hydration is lower.  How much water, by weight, does your dough contain, compared to the weight of flour?

Paul

d.sikes's picture
d.sikes

To confirm PMcCool's comments. You have to realize that yeast and bacteria only thrive or move in liquid media. Therefore, if you have dry grain they will not be able to get to the grain to perform their magic. I would suggest, in addition to steeping the grain in warm water, that instead of adding more starter, mix and kneed for a while and then let the dough ferment for at least 18 hrs at around 20/70 deg. You should have good gluten formation. You may want to reduce the size of the cracked grain, this vastly increases the surface area the the bugs can attach to, also increase the Hydration of the mix because the grain will continue to absorb water. The longer you let it ferment,within reasosn, the better structure the dough will have. If it does not come off the side of the bowl in strings it probably hasen't developed the gluten enough. good luck D.

To clarify my above comments, I am a believer in the theory of using minimal amounts of starter/yeast, minimal mixing, and very long primary fermentation times (see Jim Lehay "My Bread") I routinely make great bread with the kind of structure the original poster is looking for. When I want to eat the bread the same day I start it, I use more traditional techniques using my Bomb proof Hobart stand Mixer.

David 

 

goer's picture
goer

I increased the hydration by a bakers percentage of 2% and things really really changed. Much better now. Might add more water to see what will happen. I'll post pictures someday, but don't have a net photo account anywhere. Thanks for all of ya'lls helpful suggestions.