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Help for the Crumb of My WW Loaf

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ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

Help for the Crumb of My WW Loaf

Hello bakers,

After the (mis)adventures in learning to bake 100% whole wheat sandwich breads (see http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/25141/reinhart-100-ww-many-questions), I have settled into making very tasty, soft, well-rising loaves.  Overall, learning to bake this recipe has been a great experience.  I'm trying to convince myself to branch out and try sourdough, but I like this recipe that much.  Maybe sometime in the future I'll try something new.

But I'm still not satisfied with the structure/ crumb of my loaves.  When I slice the bread, it makes a ridiculous number of teeny tiny bread crumbs.  It's just...  flakey.  And the slices aren't very sturdy.  The bread is incredibly tender, especially when it first comes out of the oven, but after it cools it feels quite fragile.  It makes AMAZING toast, though.  I consistently get a texture like this out of probably 9 out of 10 loaves.  It's fine if we want slices of bread to accompany a meal, but for sandwiches or buttering the bread, the slices just fall apart too easily.  In short, I guess I'm looking for a little more strength within the crumb.

Is the problem gluten development?  I'm using KA 100% WW flour, no added gluten.  Should I try adding a few tsp of gluten?

This is hard to explain, and I don't think photos would illustrate it well.  I hope someone understands what I'm trying to describe and has run into this phenomenon before.

Thanks for your input!

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

I love the bread, but the crumb is weak enough that slicing can be a problem.  It's not so much an issue that I can't live with it, it just limits the thickness of the slice (thicker is stronger) and will occasionall split a slice into 2 pieces.

No solution yet.  I use water as the liquid and tend to let the soaker and biga rest overnight instead of 24 hours, otherwise the recipe is the same.

FF

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

Good to know it's not just me.  I let the soaker and biga rest for closer to 36 hours (e.g. I'll put them together on Friday night, then bake on Sunday morning).  Any shorter and it just doesn't turn out the same.  What type of flour do you use?

And that's pretty much what I've been doing--just making thicker slices.  Still, for the weight and heft of the loaf, I'd like to make smaller slices, as I like to eat moderately and don't want to go overboard with my delicious bread!

I wonder what we could do to strengthen the crumb...  I don't like adding extra gluten, but I might try it in my next loaves.  I might do one with, one without.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

...my own flour from hard red wheat berries.  I'm just about through with my second 60 lb bag of wheat berries and I think bread from this bag is worse than the first bag.  I don't add vital gluten.

FF

clazar123's picture
clazar123

From your description, it sounds like your crumb may be too dry. I can't tell why but it can be a number of things.

  • Make sure the recipe has adequate moisture,
  • Make sure the dough has time to absorb the moisture (build in an autlyse or overnight retard in the refrigerator)
  • Add a moisture retaining ingredient-use the water roux method,add 1-2 tbsp rye flour, add potatoe flakes or mashed potatoes,add pureed fruit or vegetable (pumpkin,applesauce,bananas or squash),use honey or molasses as sweetener.
  • Add some fat: oil,butter,milk,eggs,lecithin
  • Bake at a lower temp (375F)

Any of these terms can be searched  for by using the "Search" box.

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

It's 73% hydrated,

89% of the flour and all of the liquid is made into a biga and a soaker and left for 12 to 24 hours (mine is shorter).  The biga is left in the fridge and the soaker (with salt) is left on the counter.

The recipe is lean except for molasses and a little oil.

The comment about a moisture retaining ingredient is a good one.

I bake mine at 375 until it's 205F internally.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

It seems to impart a great softness/stretchiness to the loaf, which is important in a sandwich bread. And it isn't at all gummy.It is easy to adapt a recipe for this,also. It is my favorite method for making sandwich bread.

Water Roux method:

I just take 1 tbsp of the flour(doesn't matter what kind) in the recipe and 5 tbsp of the water in the recipe and heat it,stirring frequently. I use the microwave and do ONLY 10-15 sec intervals! Whisk in between to get a custardy appearance. Careful, tho,it will cook (and burn) quickly! (When you research it, it will say to get the mixture to 160F. Feel free to monitor by temp. I've just done it often enough that when it gets to a certain stage, I recognize it.)  Let it cool,covered, so no skin forms, and then add all of this to the dough. Simple and it makes a huge difference in texture.

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

I will definitely try this.  I don't have a microwave, so I'll do it in a little saucepan on the stovetop.

I'm wondering when to incorporate it into the recipe.  This recipe calls for making a biga and a soaker, and letting them sit for a while.  No additional liquid is added when the biga and soaker are combined.  And should I add it to the biga (part of the dough with yeast that sits in the fridge) or the soaker (super hydrated dough made with milk that sits on the counter and gets a little sour)?  What do you think?  How would you incorporate it?

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

The soaker in the epoxy method has more water in it than does the biga.  That's where I borrow some liquid when I'm adding wet ingredients later.  I find that  the soaker works well when it is mixed at the same hydration as the biga with the extra liquid added with the remaining dough ingredients.

FF

Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

Sorry if its already posted but i didnt have time to read.

Added a small amount of wheat gluten will help.  You  might want to try to add vitc(ascorbic acid) to the dough as well, albiet in REALLY tiny amounts as a little goes a long way.  It bassically get in there and helps to toughen up those gluten strands.

Another thing to try if either of those methods don't work, is to add the salt at a later stage.  Combine the ingreeds untill you have all your flour/water incorperated, then sprinkle in the salt and either knead or mix.  This can also add some great streagnth to your dough.

BTW...for 100% whole wheat i do ALL 3 and get some really nice results, hope this helped.

            -Sean

 

ClimbAway's picture
ClimbAway

I'm not a huge fan of adding gluten.  Just personal preference.

The ascorbic acid is a really interesting idea.  If I can find some in my local grocery store, I would give it a shot.

All of the liquid in the recipe is incorporated into the biga/ soaker, well before the rest of the ingredients (and the majority of the salt) are added when the dough is assembled.  So that idea is already incorporated into the recipe.  I could take it one step farther and add no salt at all to the biga, but I think the small amount of yeast in there would go nuts, even in the fridge.

Thanks for your suggestions!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

in the biga and don't seem to have any problems with my breads - But I do SD.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

The purpose is to add some starch to the bread matrix so I would probably either add it to the soaker or to the final dough when everything is mixed together. It does make the dough more sticky but resist the tempation to add more flour-you want the gel to remain sticky!