The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Reinhart's Light Wheat Bread: Am I reading this wrong?

HappyBreadHouse's picture

Reinhart's Light Wheat Bread: Am I reading this wrong?

Hi Fresh Loaf People...

I received the Bread Baker's Apprentice for Christmas.  I am a long time home baker, but I was interested in trying Reinhart's formulas and (I hope) learning new ideas about bread baking.

The first formula I tried was his "Light Wheat Bread."  This seemed like a simple starting place in his book.

I was surprised at how dry the formula was... 55.6% hydration?  I am used to much wetter dough (65% minumum), but I thought I would try to follow his directions before going my own way.

His recipe was for only a single loaf, so I used the baker's % to scale up:

wheat flour37.50%797.7
white flour62.50%1329.4
Dried Milk5.60%119.1


The resulting dough was nearly unworkable.  I finally broke down and added more (and more) water (about 250 g more).

Revised formula:

wheat flour797.737.50%
white flour1329.462.50%
Dried Milk119.15.60%

The loaves are in the oven now, but I don't have high hopes for how they will turn out.  I think the dough was abused too much in the process.

I found a post here where someone also added additional water and was happy with the result.  My question is... has anyone had sucess with the formula as written?  Or is it me... have I misunderstood how I should be applying the formula?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

ran a quick search and found enough comments to convince me to add more water.   I see you updated while I was typing....   Upped the hydration to 67%   I love to abuse dough, it will come out ok.  I'll keep my fingers crossed.


HappyBreadHouse's picture

Thanks for the reply.   I posted some pictures of the finished loaves here:

The results were edible, but that's about it.  The main problem was that, by the time I had worked in the additional water, etc., the dough had gotten pretty hot.   I would be curious to try the revised formula from the start and see if it works out.

I've been trying to understand how the formula could be so dry. 

It occurred to me that the dry milk solids (DMS) could be a factor.  According to "How Baking Works" (Paula Figoni), DMS will absorb their weight in water.  That would account for at least half of the additional water I added.  I also set up everything the night before.  In doing so, I added the honey to the water.  Since honey is hydroscopic, I wonder if it absorbed enough of the water to throw the formula off.  I have no idea how much atual water honey will absorb, however.

Question: I'm still curious about 55.6%.  Is this a typical hydration for "sandwich" bread?  Again... my experience is more in the 65% to 75% range, so I don't know what normal is.