The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Whole wheat - lengthy rise times?

mtbkrdave's picture
mtbkrdave

Whole wheat - lengthy rise times?

Hi All! First post here, just making my way into bread geekery but loving it so far!

After having some good success with white breads (enriched and lean), dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls lately, I decided to try my hand at whole wheat. My first attempt - Reinhart's recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice - fell flat. I was using old flour and my pre-ferments didn't look anything like Peter's descriptions. Then, this past weekend, I bought some freshly-milled red winter wheat flour at a farmers' market, and got the farmer's recipe for the (delicious!) bread he was sampling there. (With apologies for the volumetric flour measurements - he didn't give me weights, so I spooned the flour into measuring cups and leveled...)

1.5c Red Winter Wheat flour
1.5c All-purpose flour (I used bread flour)
1.5t Yeast
1.5T Butter
3T Sugar
1.5t Salt
0.5c Water
0.5c Milk 

I tried baking a loaf yesterday. Starting with room-temp ingredients, the dough came together nicely, (sorta-kinda) passed the windowpane test after about 15 minutes of mechanical kneading, and registered 80°F. My kitchen's ambient stays at a pretty constant 70°F, which puts most of the Apprentice recipes right on-the-mark for fermentation times. But this took over 3 hours to double in size. I shaped it for a sandwich loaf and proofed in a glass loaf pan; after 4 hours it had barely moved! Finally, since I had the oven on to roast our dinner anyway, I moved it to the stovetop hoping the heat from the oven vent would speed things up. After another 2 hours, it had finally risen above the top of the pan. All told, total fermentation time was around 9 hours!

I ended up baking it at 400°F for about 25 minutes, with a turn at 15 minutes, and it registered 185°F when done. Surprisingly, it came out quite good - no "beery" flavor as I expected, nice malt flavor, just a hint of bitterness, overall very tasty!

So - is this normal? With all else being equal - 70°F ambient, rapid-rise yeast, properly-kneaded dough - why does the whole wheat require almost 5x the fermentation time? Given the lack of beery flavor from over-worked yeast, I'm assuming that they consume the starches from the whole-wheat flour more slowly.

Thanks,
MtbkrDave 

charbono's picture
charbono

All things considered, the hydration looks too low for a vigorous fermentation.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I agree, the amounts of flour and liquid in the recipe don't seem to quite add up right. Could there be a typo somewhere? (Or could the farmer have "made a mistake" in the recipe on purpose?  ...that's pretty common:-)

Or could the farmer have meant to measure 1.5c of wheat berries, and then after it was already measured grind it into flour? (or to say the same thing a different way, measure before grinding rather than after?)

mtbkrdave's picture
mtbkrdave

Thanks for the insights so far. While the hydration seems light by the numbers, for what it's worth the dough generally met the goal of being "tacky but not sticky" and didn't feel particularly dry. I'm too much a newbie to know if this really means anything...?

The guy did transcribe the recipe from memory, so there's certainly potential for error (or "tweaking") there, but I got the impression he was at least on the up-and-up. In the end, despite the very long rise time, the bread did come out quite good! It was as good as the sample I tried at his stand, and had a comparable moistness and crumb...

Thanks,
MtbkrDave 

rayel's picture
rayel

Hi mtbkrdave, could it have been the rapid rise yeast was over the hill? Or was it proofed at too "warm" a temp.? I think if the dough temp was 80F, that I would have fermented the dough at that temp., and proofed it for the pan rise at a still higher temp. mabey 85 degrees. That aside, something is amiss, beside hydration I think.  If you can provide a moist and dependable temp. thru the rises that helps, Low hydration is a solid guess as well. I sometimes brush water on the shaped loaf to keep it moist in addition to moist environment. I usually bake 100% whole wheat breads, and at 80 degrees , the first rise rarely exceeds 90 min. I use active dry yeast, and only once the rapid rise, which worked o.k.(I didn't realize it was rapid rise and was worried it might not have enough oomph left for the long haul.) The long haul in my case is a 90 min. first rise, about 45 min. second rise, and the final proof between 30 and 45 min. depending on how brave I feel. The liquid amt, is probably too little, considering whole wheat with super absorbing bran, was used, and the other bread flour might require slightly more than all purpose. Some guesses.  Ray

rayel's picture
rayel

mtbkrdave, I took another look at your picture, and I see  it came out well despite the durration of your rises. Clearly there must have been enough gas left to give the lift you ended up with. What took so long is beyond me. Mabey hydration and temp. are the real issues.  Anyway, nice looking loaf.  Ray

mtbkrdave's picture
mtbkrdave

Thanks for the kudos, and the insights... Could be any of the factors we've discussed here, or a combination.

The rapid-rise yeast is a few months old and has been stored in the refrigerator. It could well have lost some potency; I'll try a fresh jar next time.

The low ambient temp has me a little suspicious - I've been meaning to build a proof box, and this could be just the excuse I need. :)

So, next attempt, I will go for a slightly more-moist dough, an 80-degree proof temp, and fresher yeast. Will report back how it works out!

Thanks,
MtbkrDave