The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bigas, soakers, & mash

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chersbread's picture
chersbread

Bigas, soakers, & mash

I'm new to Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain breads. I've made the biga and soaker formulas a couple of times so far. I've measrured with a gram scale but they both consistantly turn out more like a batter than a dough. In his book, he says that both should be the same hydration and feel of the final dough!? Not sure why mine is more like a batter when I am following the formula gram for gram? I've been making bread for years and I'm tempted to just go with my gut and do this by feel? Any thoughts or suggestions anyone??

Also, I made the Whole Wheat Mash Bread - it turned out okay, but not sweet like I was expecting from everything I've read. I also had a VERY hard time developing the gluten in to get it to pass the "window pane" test...it litterally would not become elsastic - I had to finally add 4 T of wheat gluten!!

I did make the Potato Rosemary bread and it was divine!!

Any suggestions would be soooo welcome!!

Thanks,

Cher

Syd's picture
Syd

I don't have Whole Grain Breads, but I do have The Bread Baker's Apprentice and in the latter Reinhart includes a recipe for a biga which has a 66% hydration.  A 66% hydration dough is nothing like a batter and although it is not as firm as a dough that contains salt, it can be kneaded easily by hand.  What are the flour/water percentages for the biga recipe that you are following.  From the way you describe it, it sounds more like a poolish.

Syd

chersbread's picture
chersbread

The biga formula calls for 227 g whole wheat flour(100%), 1 g yeast(.4 %), 1710 g water(75%) - would this be considered 75% hydration? He doesn't talk very much about this in WGB. He also doesn't give a formula for a poolish although he does briefly mention them in the very beginning. There have been several meaurements that just don't work according to his discriptions, and I have followed them to the letter. I'm wondering if it's my flour? I am using Bronze Chief from Wheat Montana (I believe it's a hard red spring wheat) - I don't have a stone grinder - I am grinding with my Vita-mix. Maybe that has something to do with it as well...

chersbread's picture
chersbread

Sorry, not 1710 g water - 170 g...oops

jcking's picture
jcking

Cher,

If you're grinding your own whole wheat, depending how fine or course it is, along with it's moisture content, it may take longer to absorb the water. Otherwise go with your gut and let the dough tell you what it needs, hold back some of the water.

Jim

chersbread's picture
chersbread

Thanks Jim...I appreciate the input!!

Syd's picture
Syd

would this be considered 75% hydration?

Yes, that is a 75% hydration.  Jim is spot on, too.  The first thing I would try is an autolyse.  Mix the flour yeast and water together until there are no dry spots and then let it stand for an hour before you do any kneading.  This will give the flour time to absorb the water and the dough will be far less batter like.  As an added bonus, you won't need to knead for nearly as long.  If, after an hour, it is still batter like, then either reduce the amount of water ( you could try 150g for a 66% hydration) or change your flour.

Best,

Syd