Reinhart 100% WW - Many Questions!
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,
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?