The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I can't get a windowpane no matter what I do

JWK1's picture

I can't get a windowpane no matter what I do

Hey All, I've got a Grainmaker I've had for a little over a year and I use it all the time. I get Prairie Gold in 50 lb. bags. All my bread is 100% WW. I soak my flour overnight. Sometimes it's just water, sometimes it's yogurt whey or a combination of both. Nothing seems to matter. No longer how much I knead the bread, it just tears when trying to get a windowpane. The dough feels nice and springy, but you can even see it tear when folding it over when hand kneading. I also have an Electrolux I use for kneading. I have been making bread for many years. It's not my kneading technique. The flour is being milled on the finest setting the Grainmaker can do.

Does anyone have any ideas?

golgi70's picture

If your going 100% whole wheat even with soaking its still not going to develop like a dough made with White flour.  I make a 100% wheat soaking the grain overnight in water as well.  I mix just unitl I see the dough really coming together and I can pull a good piece without easy tearing.  Then I go for stretch and folds and I get a decent window after two s+f's.  Once again nothing like the test I'd get from a white flour based dough.  I ran into the same troubles as you for a while though until I backed off of developing upon mix and more via the s+f's.   Now I get a much stronger dough that domes and has some crumb to it as well.  Hope this might be helpful.  




Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

I too grind my own wheat berries, soak (soaker and biga) overnight and have issues with obtaining a really good windowpane.  But, I now shoot for a reasonable windowpane (some tearing) and then switch to stretches and folds as the dough rises.  One or two S&Fs is all I get to do during the rise.  That seems to work fine as I'm happy with the loaves and the crumb is light and pretty open for a whole wheat loaf.



pmccool's picture

Sometimes that can lead to the kind of tearing that you describe.  Have you tried increasing the water content?


golgi70's picture

A good point.  What is your hydration?  My dough doesn't have a biga but it also contains a 9 grain soaker so its chock full of things to kill the gluten development.  My dough a touch higher than 75% hydration.  Vital Wheat Gluten is also something to consider in this type of bread.  




henryruczynski's picture


You've been baking for years and seem to be happy with results.

Why bother with the windowpane?

As you know, tug the dough  and when you get resistance, it's ready to proceed.

If you really want to windowpane -

 you can strengthen the dough by doing:

 folds - as others have mentioned

Also, by adding a stiff preferment or giving a long, cool bulk ferment.


JWK1's picture

My hydration is 73%.  Peter Reinhardt tells me I should get a windowpane with WW flour.  My loaves are not coming out consistently good and I'm trying to isolate the problem.

I will try this:  Soaker overnight.  Knead bread with Electrolux.  Put in fridge for slow rise - how long?  Take out of fridge, let warm to room temp (30 - 45 minutes?).  Stretch and fold, wait 30 minutes, cut and shape into bread pans, let rise to proper size and bake.

Sound like a plan?