The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Second Whole Wheat Attempt

R.Acosta's picture

Second Whole Wheat Attempt

I gotta say, that even though I've only worked with whole wheat twice now, I haven't run into an ingredient that puts me on edge as much as this one. 

So I'm trying to make this bread again, only this time I tried to follow the exact measurements instead of my gut.  So putting in the exact amount of water it calls for I got what looked like the beginnings of crumbly whole wheat play dough, but I resisted the urge to keep adding water until it was soupy (because I'm pretty sure that's why my dough wouldn't get to the tacky stage last time).  Well I let that do its thing overnight and then mixed in the other ingredients, with the addition of bread flour being gradual.  In the end my dough was tacky, but not smooth and hardly elastic.  With a sigh I put it in the oiled bowl and hoped that that was just how whole wheat doughs operate.  Then I read and saw that basically, its not.  So in a fury I took the dough out 5 minutes later and tried to knead it into submission, but honestly, I'm pretty sure it just got much worse.

Let me just say how livid I am because I don't have enough bread flour to make anything after this and this bread is supposed to last us for the next week.  Damn you whole wheat...which I have plenty of.  Arghh!  Who knows, maybe I'll be surprised in the end, but for now I'm thinking trusting my gut isn't a terrible idea in the future.  Here's the dough:


I know it doesn't look as bad in the picture, but trust photos to come later in the day...


Well after about 5 hours of a first rise (with it seeming to plateau around the 3 hour mark) I broke down and formed the loaves. I warmed the oven then turned it off and put the loaves in there for a second rise, hoping things would move along a bit faster this time around.  Well 30 minutes later, I had a beautiful rise on both of them. About an inch and a half over the rims, yay!  I decided to go ahead and bake them, because I didn't want them to overproof and then deflate...we'll see what this day long venture produces soon..


Well, here is the crumb shot from this day long honey whole wheat:

After cutting into it I feel like I could have let it rise a little longer, however I feel like I made a little improvement between this loaf and the last one (being that it wasn't as flat).  The taste was completely different.  It was very yeasty with just a hint of sweetness, which I guess was a result of that 5 hour rise.  It's quite addicting I must say.  I guess the key with whole wheat, just like any bread, is patience. Here's the loaf:

So however frustrating, I was ultimately satisfied. Thank God!



hanseata's picture



R.Acosta's picture

The Honey Whole Wheat he made up both times...I was actually pleasantly surprised at the outcome this time.  Whole Wheat flour is just so nervewracking to work with, at least for me, but then again so was making simple white bread when I first started out.  I really want to master this.  I'll post pictures tomorrow morning when I have better light to take them.


clazar123's picture

I took a look at Floyd's Honey Whole wheat Recipe and have read over both posts. You are getting there-you just don't have enough familiarity with the ingredients. It will come.

First of all-recipes are guidelines. Even the ones that look like formulas. So be prepared to do a little tweaking at different stages of preparation. I have to do this even on the recipes I have made over and over and even on the recipes that are written in grams rather than cups or ounces.

Have a notebook handy and write down your ingredients in one column and amounts in a column next to the ingredients. Leave a blank column to one side of this to write down any adjustments or additions. This will help you when you are learning how to work with ingredients and with a recipe.

Whole wheat flour    3 cups      ( added 1/4 cup more-dough too wet after mixing)

Whole wheat flour can soak up liquids at different rates depending on the brand (King Arthur, this time) and sometimes even at diferent rates between different bags of the same brand.

 So putting in the exact amount of water it calls for I got what looked like the beginnings of crumbly whole wheat play dough, but I resisted the urge to keep adding water until it was soupy.

This is the first tweak. It was obvious to you that this dough needed more water. But how much?? Get your notebook and pen handy. Start adding water,1 tbsp(fluid ounce) at a time and keeping track.Mix each tablespoon in. When the dough seems a better consistency to you, your done. Make a note on the "adjustment" column. Is it the right amount? Who knows- but you will find out for next time by how it turns out. And now you know how to adjust it for next time. Hopefully, when all the ingredients are in, the dough is slightly sticky and will become tacky after it sits for a while.

This recipe may present some texture challenge to a beginner. When you pour hot water over flour, you develop a lot of starch development from the flour. This will make any dough made this way seem endlessly sticky and the first temptation is to add more flour. That is exactly the wrong thing to do for this dough. Stickiness from gelatinization of the starch is a good thing in the end but it makes judging tackiness and handling difficult,esp for a beginner. For now you have 2 options:

  1. Pour slightly warm water over the flour just to hydrate but not gelatinze the starch. Do this just to have some success with making this recipe.
  2. Make the recipe as written and research handling sticky (as in rye bread type sticky) dough. Another learning curve.

So try some of these tweaks and see if it makes a difference.

When you talked about proofing, you didn't say anything about the dough doubling-just the time frame. Floyd mentions times rather than "rise to double". With 3 tsp of yeast, it should rise fairly quickly, unless the kitchen is colder than 70F. Then it will take longer. As you said-patience is important. Bread is risen when its risen.

Same goes when you proof the bread in the pans. The pans you are using may be slightly larger than the pans he used so your loaf may be shorter and won't rise over the top of the pan. Try filling one pan a bit higher and making rolls of the remainder of the dough if there isn't enough for another pan. Or try smaller pans. Do the finger poke test to see when it is sufficiently rise.

I hope this is helpful. There is no hurry on this learning curve. Whole wheat can make great french toast or bread pudding if it needs to be used up.



R.Acosta's picture

I had no idea starches gelatinized! That explains alot with my first attempt. I'll take what you said to heart when I give this another go!