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Reinhart 100% WW - Many Questions!

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ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

Reinhart 100% WW - Many Questions!

Good morning!

I have been working on perfecting Reinhart's 100% WW sandwich loaf.  So far...  well, I haven't been that successful.  Getting a little frustrated, because I can’t seem to figure out what I’m doing incorrectly.  It’s quite hard to learn how to bake without someone who knows the process well to give constructive feedback.

My main issue is that I can’t get these gosh darn loaves to rise nicely.  They always, always turn out dense.  Not like the tall loaf with beautiful crumb that Dgrock posted about a few weeks ago.  Sure, they taste good, but they’re not useable for sandwiches, which is what I need.

A little more info…  I’m using King Arthur whole wheat flour, following the recipe as closely as I can.  I’m pretty sure that my yeast is viable—it smells right, nice and yeasty, when I put it in water.

Here are my questions…

1)      The recipe calls for instant dry yeast, but I’ve been using active dry yeast.  I just researched this, and it seems like it does matter.  I’ve been adding the 2.25 tsp active dry yeast directly to the biga, soaker, and other ingredients in the third stage.  Should I rehydrate my active dry yeast somehow?

2)      This is probably a stupid question, so forgive me in advance.  I’ve been using a 9x5’’ loaf pan, as I haven’t been able to find the 8x4’’ loaf pan the recipe calls for.  Does this matter?  It seems like it would—a narrower pan should make the bread rise higher.  Is there any way I can scale up the recipe to fill the pan more?  What might I mess up if I scale up the recipe?

3)      Home Cooking in Montana (http://homecookinginmontana.blogspot.com/2010/01/peter-reinharts-100-whole-wheat.html) has posted some photos of what her biga and soaker look like.  My biga never rises as high as that and usually looks a little wetter.  On the other hand, my soaker never looks that goopy; it usually looks more like dough.  Do her photos approximately match what your biga and soaker look like?  Since I can’t visit your kitchen to touch your dough as you make it, does anyone have photos of the consistency of the biga and soaker?

4)      I have never, ever gotten any oven spring whatsoever out of this loaf.  When I do the final proof, the dough rises to the top of the 9x5 loaf pan, at which point I put it in the oven and it bakes to be exactly that size, if not a little smaller.  Home Cooking in Montana shows a proofed loaf that is way taller than the loaf pan!  Beautiful!  Should I let it proof longer?

5)      Also, I’ve never been particularly impressed with my dough rising.  I’ve seen photos of people uncovering bowls of dough that have risen to fill up the bowl—wow!  My dough will rise somewhat, but it’s a moderate increase in volume of maybe 50%.  Should I let it rise longer?

6)      A question about gluten development in whole wheat breads.  I can get a bit of windowpane, but as I stretch farther, the gluten strands do rip.  Does anyone know of a YouTube video that can demonstrate proper windowpane in a 100% whole grain dough?  I’m wondering if I need to knead longer (I usually knead ~10 minutes by hand; I don’t have a mixer).  Going back to the photos at Home Cooking in Montana, my dough never looks that pretty (pliable, smooth, hydrated, nearly shiny).  It’s either a goopy mess that sticks to my countertop or it doesn’t stick to itself when I roll it up or somewhere in between that just doesn’t look as nice as her photo.

7)      Should I bake this loaf at 350 or 425?  I’ve seen people do this recipe at both.

I apologize if these questions are basic.  I’ve been reading the forum, looking for suggestions, and I’m just getting overwhelmed.  I’m sorry if you answer questions like this all the time, but for a beginning baker it’s really helpful to get input specific to my situation.

Yours in frustration,

Nicole

P.S.  I forgot to add one more thing.  I live in Upstate New York, where our weather has recently taken a turn for the cooler.  My apartment is usually in the low 60's (F).  I turn on my electric oven to a low temperature and let the dough rise/ proof while sitting on top of the oven.  This means the bottom of the dough stays nice and warm, but the top is always cool to the touch.  Is this a problem?  How to people in cool climates raise/ proof their dough?

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

Adding active dry yeast directly to the third stage of this recipe is probably an issue with the rise.  Active dry yeast needs to be dissolved into water first before adding.  In the third step of this recipe, no additional water is added.  That's one reason Peter uses instant yeast.  If all you have is active dry yeast, when making the soaker and biga, reserve an ounce (1/8 cup) of liquid from each of the two doughs.  10 minutes before making the bread, dissolve the active dry yeast in the water allowing for some room to rise and bubble.  The biga and soaker (especially the biga) will be stiffer.

Your windowpane is probably adequate, but I add a stretch and fold after letting it rise for 30 minutes in the bulk ferment.  Fermenting is done when the dough is 1.5 times it's initial volume.

The recipe in Peter's Whole Grain Breads is for one 9"x5" loaf pan.  Let it proof until 1" or so above the rim of the pan or 1.5 times the initial volume.

Enjoy, it's a great recipe.   I make a couple of loaves a week for the family.

FF

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

The recipe as relayed in the Montana blog calls for a smaller pan than called for in the book.   The recipe, however is the same and it calls for a 9"x5" pan.  That makes the rise look larger than it is.  You also can't judge the size of the ball of biga on the blog since the bowl it is in is of an unknown size.

FF

 

jcking's picture
jcking

As the air temperature falls the water temperature should rise. Ideally your final mixed dough should be between 73 to 78°F. I think many bakers encounter problems during the colder weather because the tap water used is cold. To keep the dough warm a heating pad and a box of some sort will help.

Jim

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

Thank you kindly for both of your suggestions.  Since I've heard so many people (such as yourself) have success with this recipe, I don't want to give up on it.

The next time I try this bread (which will probably start tonight for baking tomorrow), I will try reserving some of the liquid to activate the ADY.  And now I'm even second guessing what type of yeast I have--I believe the bag itself says active dry yeast, but the little sticker that my local co-op slaps on it says something about "good for bread machines" and "instant."  Who knows.

Regarding the size of the pan, I guess I'll stick with my 9x5 pans.

Water temperature--I do start off with warm water to make the biga, though I don't think it matters because I leave the biga in the fridge overnight.  The soaker sits on the counter.  I take the biga out of the fridge and let it warm up.  Both start out around 65 degrees, or the temperature of my apartment.  The dough does warm up after I knead it for 10 minutes.

More questions!

1)  Just to clarify, after kneading for 10 minutes, you are suggesting to allow the bread to rise for 30 minutes, the give it a stretch-and-fold, and finally allow it to rise again to 1.5 times its initial volume?  Is that correct?

2)  One question about "rising until 1.5 times the original size."  That means that the loaf should be 50% larger than the original size, correct?  So, imagine the dough occupied a volume of 81 cubic inches (a log of dough 9  inches by 3 inches by 3 inches), it would increase to 122 cubic inches (9x3x4.5).  Sorry, I'm an analyst, I like numbers more than words, because there is less ambiguity.  I was wondering if maybe it actually meant that the dough was supposed to double, then add another 50% of the original volume, in which case I would have been stopping the rising way too early.

3)  If only the dough would proof until it rose 1'' above the top of the loaf pan.  But it's barely to the top of the pan after 50 minutes, and I'm concerned that I'll overproof and it will collapse.  How can I improve/ speed up proofing and get the dough to proof higher?

4)  Can anyone suggest a heating pad without an automatic off function?  I would happily get a heating pad (it would help me with my yoghurt over the winter, too), but they all seem to have that stupid auto-off feature.  Anyone want to show off their DIY bread proofing box?

Thank you again for your suggestions, please keep them coming.  I'm frustrated but not ready to give up yet!

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

1.  stretch and fold.  Yes, rise for 20 to 30 minutes (won't rise much) and do a stretch and fold and return to the rising container.

2.  It's all approximate with bread pans.  The sides are sloped so it's not really 9x5x3, more like 8.5x4x3 (102 in3).  If the log is round, the volume of a 3" diam, 9" log is 64 in3.    If the dough is at the same temperature that it will proof at, I often take a golf-ball sized piece and place it into a clear, oiled, juice glass and mark the initial level.  When the dough reaches 1.5 times it's original height it's ready.

3.   At 65 degrees, the rise is slower, but the taste is better, so try rising a little longer - maybe not an inch above the rim, but more than you usually do.  The support from the pan will help keep the loaf from collapsing to a point.

4.  For proofing, a glass of warm water in a microwave works to raise the temp some.

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

I will add the stretch and fold to see whether it helps.

Do you add back that golf-ball sized piece after proofing?  I don't see how that would be possible, so I'll assume not!

I do need to come up with a better solution for rising and proofing.  I don't have a microwave.  I've seen some plans for plastic boxes with aquarium heaters--interesting concept, not sure if I could use it for yoghurt as well.  Would a heating pad and a cup of hot water inside a closed box work?  I could remove the cup of hot water to incubate yoghurt, then.

Thank you again for all of your help.  I appreciate the timely responses.  Hopefully tomorrow's loaf will turn out!

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi Nicole,

Active Dry Yeasy contains less living yeast cells per gram than instant yeast, but more than fresh yeast.

The conversion factors by weight are (BBA, Hamelman etc):

1 part fresh yeast = 1/2 part ADY

1 part fresh yeast = 1/3 part instant yeast

Therefore 2 parts instant yeast = 3 parts ADY

If you need 5g instant yeast for your formula, you will need

5 * 3 / 2 = = 7.5 g Active Dry Yeast.

Happy Baking

Juergen

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

Thanks for this handy conversion list, Juergen.  I am confused regarding whether my yeast is ADY or instant, as (if I recall correctly) the package may say one thing, while the sticker label says something else.  I will have to look into this further.

Is there an easy way to tell whether yeast is ADY or instant without the package?

charbono's picture
charbono

The ADY grains are a little larger.

 

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Is there an easy way to tell whether yeast is ADY or instant...?

Not that I know of (at least not if you don't have anything to compare it to:-).

Here's the not-so-easy thing that I'd do: mix up flour (white if you have it), fairly cool water (but not cold like from a refrigerator), and the dry yeast granules (at 1% of the weight of the flour) into a small ball, put the ball in a roughly straight sided container you can see through (perhaps one of those Pyrex measuring cups?) and set the dough ball in its container in a warm place to rise. (If you can deal with DDT [Desired Dough Temperature], aim to have the completed dough ball come out around 70F-80F.)

If the dough ball has visibly grown after only ten minutes, treat the yeast as "instant" (IDY); if on the other hand not much of anything happens until sometime after twenty minutes have gone by, treat the yeast as "not instant" (ADY).

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

There are some photos of the different types of yeast

http://www.lesaffre.com/en/yeast-bread-making/yeasts/instant-dried-yeast.html

Cheers,

Juergen

 

charbono's picture
charbono

Nicole,

Your original post says that you're adding yeast to the soaker.   That's not the Reinhart method in Whole Grain Breads, and it wouldn't be a soaker.

 

 

 

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

I'm sorry--I may have been unclear in my first point.  What I was trying to say is that I was kneading the bulk of the yeast (2.25 tsp), plus the remaining ingredients, into the chopped-up biga and soaker in the third step.  Hopefully that makes sense now.

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

I'm sorry, it's been a while since I've updated this thread.

Yes, I definitely am using instant yeast.

I got a heating pad and WOW the dough rises faster and higher.  But...  my loaves are still coming out short. 

Questions:

1)  This time, the proof completely filled the pan (previously, the "arch" of the top of the loaf would be at the level of the pan; this time, the sides of the loaf were at the top of the pan).  So, getting better.  There were a few strange air bubbles at the top, and when I saw that, I was worried that I'd overproofed, so I quickly threw it in the oven.  Should I let it proof even higher?

2)  My loaves get DARK, and they get dark quickly.  When I put a thermometer inside the bread after only 35 minutes, it was 200 degrees F.  I had my oven set to 400.  I should probably borrow an oven thermometer from my neighbors to check the temp, eh?  What would happen if my oven were too hot?

3)  My dough still seems too wet.  After bulk fermentation, it still sticks to my hands and is very difficult to shape and place in the pan accurately.  How can I determine the proper hydration level for the dough?  It has been rather humid lately.

Thank you again for all of the hints and suggestions.  I'm determined to get this right before my boyfriend gets tired of eating shorty gnome loaves.

nasv's picture
nasv

To your questions:

1) I think the proofing is fine, but the idea that there were air bubbles at the top makes me think that you had too much moisture or that the dough was not sufficiently uniform or kneaded enough.

2) Does you oven have convection?  Turn it off if you can, otherwise just put in the dough-and-pan and cover it loosely with alumnium foil for the last 15 minutes of baking.  Also on temperature, pre-heat at 425F and then lower the temperature to 350F when the bread goes into the oven.

3) Based on your first question, I do think the dough may have been a bit moist.  Use a kitchen scale if you can, and just know that the recipes/formulas can only be so accurate because every flour is different.  The dough should be slightly tacky, not sticky.

Good luck!

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Climbavay,  I can't offer much help other than to say, stick with it.  I had minimal success with a number of Rheinhart recipes, but have gone back again and again because everyone raves about him.  I just made the WW bread from Artisan Breads daily, and it came out very well. As to the size of the pan, yes it matters.  If you are weighing all your ingredients, just increase everything 10% and see how that fills out the pan - if that isn't enough, try 20%.  Once I find a recipe I like,   I usually put it in a chart showing the original amouts called for, the next column is for the bakers percentages based on the recipe, and then I leave a few columns blank, and fill them in in pencil as I experiment with diff sizes until I find the size I want.  You can do the same with water, if you are concerned you have too much, just drop it 5% and see how it comes out.  To me, one indicator of too wet is if the dough collapses while baking, and I don't think you mentioned it.  WW doughs are usually made much wetter than regular flour, so I don't think that is your problem.   

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

nasv, I am making another loaf tonight.  This time, the biga came out significantly stiffer, much more like dough and less like mush.  It may have been because I was using a brand new, just-opened bag of flour.  Even though I store my flour in an airtight container and go through 5 pounds of flour fairly quickly (a few weeks), perhaps my flour was absorbing moisture from the humid atmosphere?  I guess I'll find out in a few hours.  One of these days, I will get the hydration level correct, and then I'll know how it "should" feel.  Either that or I'll find a kitchen scale somewhere.  :-)  I will try your trick with oven temps and aluminum foil.

Barry, thanks for the response, I love your organization!  I should make notes every time I try this loaf.  It's just odd that it seems to come out differently, even when I'm trying to follow the recipe exactly each time.

Updates to follow tomorrow.  <crosses fingers>

nasv's picture
nasv

I have learned so much about bread by simply trying and trying and making small adjustments - I'm learning about the results and the feel of the bread just by judging from my previous bakes - so will you here! 

One trick with Reinhart WW methods... when you are creating the final dough, lay the biga flat on top of the soaker (don't try to degass too much), and then cut them into pieces.  I think he suggests 12, but I always do a little more.

Good luck!

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

The latest attempt:

Holy crap what the heck is that?!  I put dough in my oven, and OUT FLEW A FREAKING SPACESHIP!!!

Let's go inside the spaceship...

Cue sad music.

Well technically this loaf was not the same height as the others, because that funky bubble that developed under the crust during proofing made it taller.  But at the same time...  I still don't have sandwich bread.

I despair.  My boyfriend longs for store-bought loaves.  I fear that he will secretly start hoarding bread in his sock drawer.  Please, people, help me:  I can't let this get to the point that I'm digging illicit Wonderbread slices out from between his boxer shorts.

Ok so my evaluation:  per everyone's suggestions, the dough was not as gloopy wet.  Despite/ because of this, crumb was better this time, a little more open and a little less dense and spongy.  I turned the oven down and covered with foil, too, but it didn't seem to make a difference for the crust, still turned the color of milk chocolate.  Also worthy of note, I kneaded longer than I usually do, I let it rise the first time longer than I usually do, and I let it proof longer than usual.

On to my questions.

1)  How the heck did I end up with a spaceship?!  Do I need to worry about UFOs appearing elsewhere in my cupboards?  Little green men hiding behind my yoghurt?  Ok ok, seriously, I know it's "just a bubble under the crust" (yeah right, I see you've had your brain zapped with the alien brain zapper).  How do I avoid spaceships in the future (without a time travel machine)?

2)  I have noticed that after the bulk fermentation the dough seems FRAGILE.  I really don't know how else to explain it.  It's like those nice, tight, strong glutens that form during kneading relax themselves so completely that it's actually quite difficult to get the shaped dough off the counter without it stretching out immediately over my hands.  Is there something I'm missing--some advice you could give--about shaping the dough and getting it into the pan in more or less the shape I want?

3)  Back to the oven spring topic.  My loaves actually shrink in the oven.  Grrr.  Has anyone ever achieved oven spring with this recipe? 

4)  Anything else that I can do to get taller loaves?  I would try anything...  singing lullabies to the dough while its proofing, spoon-feeding the yeast with their choice of honey, whatever it takes.  I'm trying to keep joking about this, all the alien business and whatnot, but it's getting really frustrating.  Maybe it's time to go back to 50/50 whole grain/ bread flour, or even that dang New York Times no-knead recipe.  I just hate giving up.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

First, go straight to the store and get a blindfold, put it on your boyfriend and have him taste the loaf - if its good, then we can worry about how it looks later.  As to color, most likely the temperature was too high .  http://artisanbreadbaking.com/problems/

The spaceship is pretty common, I have had it happen several times,   and it actually has a cute name I can't recall ( like bakers tunnel or flying crust? )   but what happened when your rolled the dough up and put it in the loaf pan, ( think like a jelly roll ) the outer ring separated and rose away from the next ring.  Here is a site with a list of problems and likely causes -  http://www.baking911.com/bread/problems.htm  - according to that site, you used too much bench flour when you rolled up the dough before you put it in the pan.  It is likely more related to shaping than anything else.   As to item 2, in general, the yeast isn't very mobile, so it consumes all the food near it during the first rise.  You degas it and move it around to try to give the yeast a shot at some new food.  Some suggest you wait a few minutes after you degas it to shape it.   I have had some luck with Rheinharts 100% whole wheat heath bread, it is not as airy as white bread, but I use the right size pan and it comes out looking pretty good.    One thing to keep in mind, I have a good food processor.  When the bread caves in, or doesn't rise, or anything else goes wrong, it goes into the food processor and out comes delightful bread crums.  Add some spices and you have Italian style.  

If the bread is shrinking in the oven, either it has over proofed ( the yeast ran out of food ) or it has too much moisture - though I have a totally collapsed  or caved in top when that happens.  Try to add a TB of Vital Wheat Gluten as a test - if that fixes it, that means that you had run out of gluten  - perhaps your flour does not have enough gluten.  In general, VWG won't make it rise any higher, but it will help the bread maintain its rise and not deflate.  

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

Yep, the loaf tastes pretty good.  I really like the taste of whole wheat, and that's part of the reason that I'm so resistant to doing a 50/50 WW/BF mix.  The crust tastes a little too "well-done," so I will turn down the oven (again).

I am thinking that most of my problems are probably due to technique, not recipe.  I think I really hit the hydration nail on the head this time--the dough just took on a life of its own, it really felt alive and elastic.  It's the first time I've felt dough like that.  And it doesn't really shrink in the oven, maybe by a few fractions of an inch, more so it bakes exactly the size that it goes in (maybe a little less, due to moisture loss?).  So back to technique, I'm pretty sure that my dough shouldn't be SO slack after shaping.  I didn't dust the counter with flour at all, so that's probably not the cause of the spaceship--I think I shaped it poorly.  Oh, and I forgot to do the stretch-and-folds completely.  Grr.

I am giving up on this recipe and maybe on breadmaking.  I can't keep doing the same damn thing over and over, expecting a different result.  That's the definition of insanity.  I just don't know what else I can do.  Remember to do stretch-and-fold?  Somehow I don't think that will magically fix things.

nasv's picture
nasv

The single best CHEAP investment you can make that will help tremendously with bread baking (among other fun applications in the kitchen): a scale

While this doesn't change the fact that all flours are not identical and will absorb moisture differently, you will get closer and closer to what authors intend in their formulas and also the experiences will teach you how to make adjustments.

Don't give up - bread baking is tremendously rewarding and very versatile, and cheaper and tastier than store-bought loaves (my mantra: don't buy pre-sliced bread!)

This Reinhart formula (and the broom-bread one, I like that one a lot) is really spectacular and light.

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

...and buying a scale on Amazon.

I have been resistant to using thermometers, scales, measuring cups, etc. in kitchen activities based on my ideology that my grandmother didn't use them, didn't need them, so why should I?  But then again, my grandmother grew up next to my great-grandmother, who gave her years of instruction in how to make bread, pasta, etc.  Those skills were only sort-of-kind-of passed on to my mother, and by the time I came around, I guess everyone was buying bread in the store at that point. 

If I had a great-grandmother to show me these things several times a week from when I was knee-high to marriage age, maybe I wouldn't need a scale, thermometer, or measuring cup.  But I don't, so I've got to use the tools available to me.

3 Olives's picture
3 Olives

I haven't tried the PR recipe because the KAF 100% WW recipe is so good. It even works well with heavier Graham flour and that is really tasty.

secretgoldfish's picture
secretgoldfish

We make this loaf regularly with great success. Judging by your photos, your gluten network is undeveloped. You can tell because the crumb is a little choppier than it oughtta be. This could be caused by a couple things: 1. underkneading; 2. use of ww flour that is too coarsely ground. If you're still using KA WW flour, then it's likely the former. This would explain why you're not getting the spring that you want in the oven. 

We find this loaf works best after proofing in the refrigerator overnight (I think instructions for that are included in the original recipe). The dough strength, structure, spring, and flavor are all improved by this longer proofing time. The next morning (or whenever), pull the dough out of the fridge, shape it into loaves, and let it wake up for at least 2 hours. If it's as cool in your kitchen as you say, it might take 2.5-3 hours, and that's fine. Turn your oven to the necessary baking temp (we use 350F) right away, as that will warm up the room and assist in a normal rising time. You are ready to bake when the crown of the loaf is 1'' above the pan. If you want a little extra spring (we don't do this, but it's worth a shot) spray inside the oven when you put the loaves in, then again after 5 and 10 minutes. Don't spray more after that, as it won't accomplish anything significant and could mess up the crust.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

I just made his 100% Whole Wheat Hearth Bread from Artisan Breads Every Day.  It calls for a mix, then rest, then short knead, then 4 stretch and folds in a 1 hour period. refrigerate overnight, and then bring to room temp, shape the dough, second rise, then bake.   I let this loaf stay in the fridge 24 hours, then took it out, formed it, and put it in the loaf pan to begin the second rise in the fridge overnight ( I didn't have the time for 3 hours bring to room temp , then 2 - 3 hour rise.  Took it out of the fridge and put it an a slightly warm oven for 10 minutes to get the chill off, let it rise about 1/2 hour, then put it in the oven, poured boiling water in my pan of volanic rock that I keep in the oven,  got a little oven rise , and it came out looking, and feeling, very soft, like a wheat version of wonder bread.   

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ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

That makes sense.  I know that 100% whole wheat dough will never be as silky as regular dough, but it has a texture like soft clay.  I see a little bit of white stringy gluten, but definitely not a windowpane.  I would think that the KA flour would be ok, though.  It's got a pretty high protein content.  My two options in my local grocery store are the store brand (Wegman's), which seems to vary a lot batch-by-batch, and King Arthur.

Two questions for you:

1)  You say you proof in the fridge overnight, but then you talk about shaping and letting it rise to 1'' above the pan.  So it sounds like you're doing the bulk fermentation/ rising in the fridge.  Is that right?

2)  What else can I do to develop the gluten network more?  Just knead longer?  Anything else?

Thanks for your response!

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

I just measured the dimensions of my loaf pan.

The top measures 9.25 by 5.25 inches.

The bottom measures 8 3/8 by 4 3/8 inches.

Is this the correct size loaf pan?

 

And another question (Heavens, I really must have been a difficult child in school, with the incessant questions):  looking at how others shape their loaves, it looks like the dough holds together in a little log.  Go to the King Arthur site and check out the pictures on this recipe (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/100-whole-wheat-sandwich-bread-recipe).  It doesn't spread out to fill in the corners of the loaf pan.  After rising, deflating, and shaping, my dough is usually so sloppy that it relaxes and fills the entire pan, corner to corner.  Is this an indication that I'm not getting the right gluten development?  Why is my post-rising dough so slack?

I've got another round of soaker/ biga ready to go for this evening.  I'm going to remember the stretch-and-folds, and I'm going to try using KA bread flour for the final 7 TBS of flour, and I'm going to make sure I let it rise long enough.  Hopefully it won't be so delicate and slack after rising and deflating and I'll be able to shape it properly.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Climbawway,   In terms of proofing in the fridge, typically that is the first rise - or sometimes called bulk.  Rheinhart suggests that you take that out of the fridge and let sit at room temperature for a few hours, then shape, put in the pan, then let rise to 1 inch over, then put in the oven.   As to your second post,  my pan in 8 1/4 by  4 1/2 at the top -  so yes, your pan in a little big for the recipe I referred you to.  I checked the pictures, that is what your dough should look like.  I am guessing you have too much water.  I went back and read through the posts and it isn't clear whether you are using a digital scale.   I do and love it, but even if you aren't you can still get good results with measuring cups, which predate digital scales.  One of the best ways to learn is to experiment, and digital scales, and a word processor with tables, or a pencil and a calculator, let you make any size you want by following the percentages. My suggestion is to make 3 small loaves, measure the water and flour as precisely as you can, for loaf A use you normal ratios of ingredients, for loaf B increase the water 10% and for loaf C decrease the water 10% and see how they do.  You don't even have to use a loaf pan, just shape it like a log, and try and see how they come out.  If I am right, A will be what you normally get, B will have a caved in top, and C will have a little more form and rise than A, suggesting you need to decrease the water ( or increase the flour ) in your recipe.  Hang it there, you aren't too far off yet. Barry.

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

I can't do this.  I don't understand why I suck at this as badly as I do.  I know I shouldn't take it personally, but it is really demoralizing to try so hard at something and be so terrible at it.  Maybe it's everything else going wrong in the world at the moment, I don't know.

I just put together another batch of biga and soaker and the rest of the ingredients and kneaded.  MY DOUGH IS A @*!&#!!! MESS.  Sticking to my hands, sticking to the countertop.  I kept adding more and more flour, kneading and kneading, more and more flour.  The texture is completely different.  I don't understand why the dough won't stick to ITSELF instead of my hands and my countertop.  And I'm following the same #*%^! recipe.

(Before anyone else suggests it again, yes, I'm getting a digital scale.  It should arrive from Amazon tomorrow.  Though, at this point, I don't think it's going to get much use.)

Finally I got fed up, threw the slop into a bowl, and shoved it into my makeshift rising/ proofing box.  We'll see if it does anything.  I almost want to throw it straight into the compost heap right now.

You know, when I first tried my hand at bread several months ago, it was exciting to keep trying a recipe.  Every time I had high hopes that maybe, just maybe, this time would be different.  But now I'm at the point where breadmaking makes me want a bottle of wine and a good cry.

I really don't understand how you all have such success when I have had NOTHING but MONTHS and DOZENS of loaves of failure.  Screw this.

linder's picture
linder

I am not an advanced baker, but have had some experience with the bread in question.  Have you tried the recipe in the Tassajara Bread Book for whole wheat bread?  It works for me, but I found I could not get Reinhart's recipe to work well either - ended up making it in a smaller pan (8 x 4).   The Tassajara Bread recipe doesn't use a soaker or biga- it does call for creating a sponge with all the water for the bread and approximately 2/3 of the total flour as whole wheat flour and allowing it to rise, then adding 1 tsp. salt(for one loaf) and 2 Tbsp. oil, mixing and then adding the remaining third of the total flour as AP or bread flour.  IMHO, the Tassajara Bread Book is great for a novice baker and allows you some success before you give up.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, ClimbAway.

I have made this bread many times, and I love it. Here are some thoughts that might help:

1. I find Reinhart's suggestions for mixing times to be on the short side. Watch the dough, not the clock. Go for some window pane. It might take up to twice as long as Reinhart says. Good gluten development is important for crumb texture and the amount of oven spring you will get.

2. If you put the amount of dough meant for a smaller pan into a larger pan and proof it until it crests over the pan edge, you have over-proofed. You won't get oven spring and may even have your loaf deflate. I suggest either buying the smaller pans or putting about 1 lb 8 oz of dough in a single larger pan. Use the "poke test" to judge proofing, not the height of the rise.

3. This dough is usually sticky for me. Adding more flour will make a denser loaf. Use a light dusting of flour on the board and on your hands when handling the dough. It should behave well. You can also try wetting your hands before handling the dough. This is preferred by some.

I hope this helps.

David

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

I'm starting to get the feeling that the Pantheon of Bread Dieties are messing with my mind.  No, really.  Like, you know how Zeus and Apollo and Aphrodite were always messing with human affairs?  Like that.  And yes, I promise to talk to a professional if my dough ever starts to talk back to me (what, you don't talk to your dough?).

So the dough that nearly went in the compost heap a few hours ago turned into a really decent loaf of bread.  Like, real bread.  The kind you'd make a sandwich with.  Not the hockey puck kind.  And not the brick kind, either.  Like the stuff that you see in cartoons and grocery stores in plastic bags.  The archetypal sandwich loaf.  Real bread.

WTF.  (Am I allowed to say that?)

Clearly I have been schooled.  In what, I'm still not sure.  Patience?  Persistence?  It's a good idea to crack open a brew instead of throwing dough into the compost?  All of the above?

I was so certain that this was going to be my last try at this recipe (which is the 100% whole wheat sandwich bread from Whole Grain Breads, by the way), and maybe my last try at bread, that I sorta just "winged" it.  Here are all of the things that I did wrong:

  • My schedule got a little busy, so I neglected my biga and starter.  Let both sit for 36 hours instead of 24.
  • Didn't really let the biga warm up.  I made Boyfriend put biga under his shirt for a few minutes.  Sort of ripped up both biga and starter, then just threw all of it in a bowl and started mixing.
  • Added 3 TBS of brown sugar instead of 2.25 TBS honey.  I don't know why.  Wanted honey for my tea?  Wanted to use up brown sugar?
  • Here's where I cheated, and this is probably what made the difference:  when putting together the final dough, added 7 TBS of KA bread flour instead of 7 TBS KA ww flour.  Oh well.
  • Like I mentioned, my dough was messy like the bedroom of a 13 year old, sloppy like a sorority girl on Friday night, and sticky like the surprise chewing gum on the sole of your dress shoes.  A big hot mess, really.  So I added another TBS of KA ww flour, kneaded, then another TBS, kneaded, let the dough rest, and finally another TBS.  Kneaded.  And then I gave up and went for the beer.
  • Oh, I remembered to do the stretch-and-fold (in the bowl).  It was more fun than I expected.  Is that weird?
  • Did a much better job shaping the dough.  Though this was the nastiest dough I've had so far, the shaping was the easiest.  I really think the S&F added significant strength to it.  As in, when I went to pick it up, it didn't pour through my fingers.
  • Set the oven at a little over 310 F.  Much lower than...  um...  my first try (425, no wonder my crust was dark).
  • Protected my crust a little better in the second half of the bake.  Made a better "hat" for the pan instead of just draping the foil over the bread.

It's pretty late here, so I'm going to sleep on this and try to figure out what I did wrong/ right tomorrow.  But the fact that bread (and not hockey pucks, bricks, or spaceships) came out of my oven was pretty darn shocking to me, so I figured I'd update all you nice people who have been helping and humoring me throughout the process.  Thanks all.

linder's picture
linder

Congrats on a good lookin' loaf of bread!  Persistence paid off. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

All perfectly good subs & tweaks and... what a loaf it is!   Great job!  

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

...and I'm still baking with this recipe.  And my loaves are still turning out decently!

I'm sticking with the majority of the tweaks that I made for the nearly-went-in-the-compost loaf:  a longer preferment; more sugar; stretch-and-fold; tenting crust with foil during baking; cooler oven. 

Having said that, I believe the most important thing I did was to purchase a little digital scale from Amazon and use it every time, for every ingredient.  Hard to admit, because I come from the "Just Wing It!™" school of cooking, but it does seem like there are some kitchen activities (making yoghurt, canning, baking bread) where accuracy matters.

I'm no longer using any bread flour (namely because I forgot once, and it came out ok), making this a true 100% whole grain loaf.  I make two loaves at a time so I don't feel like I'm spending so much time just making bread.

Thank you so much, to all of you, for answering my questions and providing such kind encouragement!

My next project will be a whole grain sour dough.  I really like the slightly bitter, grainy, wheaty flavor of the whole grain...  but does that flavor work well for sour doughs?  It seems like it should!  Anyone want to recommend a recipe?

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Climbaway - great looking loaves - hope anyone who finds this post gets inspiration for the big change in the appearance of the loaves over time.  

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi, Congratulations for your persistence and your results! Amazing.

I think this thread

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1986/desem-i-take-it-all-back

is for you, if you want to make 100% wholewheat sourdoughs.

Happy Baking,

Juergen

3 Olives's picture
3 Olives

You might want to buy Thom Leonard's The Bread Book used or from an Amazon secondary seller. It's a small book and the main recipe is sourdough whole wheat with 4 ingredients: sourdough starter, whole wheat flour, water, and salt. It's really a good book.

sabragirl02's picture
sabragirl02

Hello,ClimbAway. You know what--when it comes to some breads, try James Beard, one of the most underrated writers and one of the greatest culinary teachers of the last century. (At times he actually argued that sourdough was better bought than made, LOL, but he still taught how to do it and did not shy away from giving opinions!) Yes, you can get a lot fancier teachers and books--I went to chef's school and we did a lot of Hamelman--but, honestly, teachers like Beard build confidence, and that's what keeps you in the kitchen...yes???  Plus, the King Arthur whole grains cookbook is excellent.Best wishes to you.

loaflady's picture
loaflady

ClimAway, you are me, and I am you, except my bread still looks like crap.  I'm hoping that soon I will also be looking at beautiful loaves instead of sending my poor husband with the lost stones from Stonehenge for his lunch sandwich.  I'm  hoping that some more persistance will produce results.