The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

problems with high altitude bread baking with sprouted home-milled soft wheat flour

BakingMommy's picture
BakingMommy

problems with high altitude bread baking with sprouted home-milled soft wheat flour

Hello, all:

I'm new to posting on this forum but a long-time reader.  Thank you to all from whose posts I have learned so much!

For the last few years, I have been using a commercially-purchased sprouted wheat flour in my bread machine and was able to produce beautiful bread that way.  

I recently moved to 5300' (after living at basically sea level) and was still able to keep making that same bread in my bread machine with no adjustments to the recipe.  I decided to try sprouting wheat berries and milling it into flour after being offered the use of a mill and after realizing the cost savings (not counting my labor).

Since my switch to using home-sprouted/home-milled soft wheat flour, my bread baking has been a disaster.  The centers of the loaves have been very gooey and fallen, and the loaf itself barely makes it half-way up the sides of the bread machine pan.  The only change to the recipe was going from the commercially-purchased sprouted flour to my own sprouted flour.

I'm now trying to learn as much as I can about high altitude baking.

I would love to hear from any high-altitude bakers who use sprouted/home-milled flour on specific successful adjustments that can be made, such as increase/decrease in ingredient amounts, proofing/rising/baking times, etc.

Here is my current recipe for the bread machine:

1-1/2 cups water

4 cups sprouted flour

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon sea salt

4 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon yeast

The cycle I use on my bread machine is a sandwich setting that takes a total of 3 hours, 20 minutes:

20 minutes preheating, kneading, first rising, stir down, second rising, stir down, third rising, baking

I am able to program a homemade cycle that can include:

preheat (0-30 minutes in 1-minute increments)

knead (0-30 minutes in 1-minute increments)

rise 1 (0-120 minutes in 5-minute increments, dough rises about 82.4 deg F)

rise 2 (0-120 minutes in 5-minute increments, dough rises after steam is released)

rise 3 (0-120 minutes in 5-minute increments, dough rises after formed into a ball, about 100.4 deg F)

bake (0-70 minutes in 5-minute increments, about 254-290 deg F)

keep warm at about 194 deg F for 0 minutes OR 60 minutes

I am trying to understand why the recipe works at my altitude in my bread machine with the commercially-purchased sprouted flour but not with my home-milled flour.  The manual says that home-milled flour is too coarse to work in this machine, but it doesn't seem any more coarse than the commercially-purchased flour.  (But I haven't compared the two flours under a microscope, LOL.)  Since there are only paddles that come into contact with the flour, I'm not sure what coarseness of the flour has to do with anything . . .  Also, I have had friends successfully use home-milled flour in their bread machines.

BTW, I have tried baking bread with the sprouted/home-milled flour both in the bread machine and by hand/in the oven with equally disastrous results.

Thank you so much in advance for your help!

~ BakingMommy ~

 

 

Jolly's picture
Jolly

Hello BakingMommey:

I don't have much time I'm packing it's vacation time!

I'm also baking at the high altitude of 5,000 ft and baking at this altitude can be tricky.

Don't use brow sugar you will need to avoid it. Use white sugar or honey.

Avoid using butter and bake with either sunflower or safflower oil.

You also need a good strong bread flour to make the bread rise.

The soft white wheat flour won't work by it self combine it with bread flour

And you don't need the preheat cycle at this altitude. Avoid using it.

Plus you're kneading the dough to much.

When I mix up my dough I knead the dough no more than 6 minutes or less.

You may be breaking down the gluten strands by over kneading the dough at this altitude.

Actually you would be better off mixing the dough up by hand and folding the dough.

I to have a bread machine I use the knead cycle and knead the dough 8 minutes and that's it. Then I fold my dough every 20 minutes, up to 3 times. Let the dough rise, bench rest for 10 minutes, shape into loaves, then prove the bread until it rises about 2 1/2 inches above my bread pan and then cold bake. At this altitude a cold bake is much better because it rises slower and higher.

When using my dough hook machine I'll knead the dough for 6 minutes or less.

I also found that its much better to use a digital scale at this altitude.

If you need anymore help or have any questions you can send an e-mail to this address

< amishherman030@ yahoo.com >

I'm going to Mexico for about 1 month. I'll try to find a hot spot to check my e-mail and try to get back to you.

Jolly

 

 

d.sikes's picture
d.sikes

I don't do bread machines, nor have I worked with sprouted wheat flour. That said, I do know the issues related to Hi altitude bread baking. My son lives in Denver CO, 5,280 ft. I live in Seattle, sea level. I have managed to infect my son with the Bread baking disease, LOL. We found that the key issues are that bubbles form faster in the primary and secondary fermentation stage, (at constant temp of 70-75F),  at high altitude because of the lower atmospheric pressure, therefore a dough that I will let ferment for 16 hrs. in Seattle will have the same gas development in about 12 hrs. in Denver. Gluten development seems about the same. Over fermenting dough at high altitude will result in flacid loafs. A second issue is that water boils at a lower temperature at high altitude than at sea level. in Denver water boils at about 90C.(194F.) Since the inside of a loaf is being cooked by steam for the most part a lower temp steam i.e. 194 vs.212F will require a longer time to cook the dough. I would never reduce the baking temp, just increase the time.

An uninformed guess about your freshly ground sprouted wheat vs. the comercial variety may be a function of the moisture content in yours. If it is higher your may be adding too much liquid to your dough. Try drying your freshly milled flour in a low oven to drive off excees water (220f for 20 mins) and see if that helps or reduce the amount of water you add to the dough by 10%.

Also reduce your primary and secondary fermentation times by 10-20%.

Final note, If you are serious about making great bread you need to ween yourself off of bread machines. If time is an issue please get the book My Bread, by Jim Lahay (SullivanStreet Bakery). Your only investment will be a 4.5-5.5 Qt. Cast iron Pot with fitting lid (Lodge, still cast in the USA). As for time, you make his dough in less than a half hour and let it do its thing for 12-16 hrs depending on altitude. You then shape and form the loaf, let it do its secondary fermentation in a basket lined with a large cotton or linen towell for 1-2 hrs and then bake it for 30 minutes with the lid on, and 10-20 minutes with the lid off at 475F. Follow his techniques closely and you will make truely great bread. Once you get a feeling for the process, modify your formula as you like to use your freshly ground sprouted wheat etc.

Best of Luck!

David

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

while using the same flour, then you might want to look more at the change in flours than at the change in location/elevation.  Since I have no information about your sprouting/drying process, or that of the product you were purchasing previously, it's impossible to make a definitive diagnosis.  However, the symptoms you describe lead me to wonder if your home-sprouted flour still has a significant level of enzyme content.  In other words, it's closer to diastatic malt than it is to nondiastatic malt.  If it is, that would certainly cause gooey or gummy dough.

Something else to think about as you work to a solution.

Paul

katecollins's picture
katecollins

Hey BakingMommy,

Just weighing in and taking a guess that you've been using the Essential Eating Sprouted Wheat Flour.  If so, your results when changing to home-sprouted flour doesn't have anything to do with altitude or your recipe.  We hear this over and over again from those who take a detour to making sprouted flour at home - in high altitudes or not.  Applaud your efforts for doing so, but it's the milling equipment.  When whole grains are sprouted and dried there is some magic in milling them so the baking characteristics are intact. Home mills just can't do the trick and tend to make flour that results in dense or gooey baked goods.  Sorry to rain on your sprouting parade, but been working with sprouted flour for 15 years and have some experience with this.  

And then you might want to read why we all stopped sprouting grain at our kitchen sinks...because there isn't a home test to assure the grain is actually sprouted and has not been just soaked or drowned.  Fine line to capture the antioxidants at their peak and dry the grain so the nutrients and digestive benefits are intact.  Now, soaked and drowned grain is better than unsprouted, but still doesn't have the magic of sprouted.  For more...http://essentialeating.com/ResourcesSprouted.asp#beauty.

Essential Eating is my sprouted flour of choice because they are the only producer testing to assure the flour is sprouted.  No regulation on the word "sprouted" on food labeling so producers just adopt claims they cannot prove.  

Good for you for making the "sprouted" choice.  Nothing like a flour that digests as a vegetable!

Good luck.

Kate

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Me thinks you have some affiliation with this Essential Eating mill, ja? How else to explain the majority of your posts hawking its wares? While I'm sure this mill has a certain expertise, is it really the only one? Is everyone but Essential Eating going to drown their grain if they try to sprout it?

As for dense or gooey baked goods being caused by home mills, me thinks that's questionable (and potentially nonsense).

Isn't it just as likely that successful sprouting (over)activated amylase enzymes in the flour? That's a surefire way to make gooey and dense. Don't believe it? Try adding too much diastatic malt to a recipe and see what results: Dense & Gooey (Good name for a gluten-free bakery, huh? Apply for a license herein.).

In fact, that's how most mills increase the amylase content of their flour. They sprout grains, usually barely, then dry it, grind it into a powder, and then dose the flour at whatever dose is required to increase the level of amylase. A simplication, sure, but the internet is full of details if you care to seek them out.

 

 

katecollins's picture
katecollins

Thomas,

No hawking, just educating.  This forum is for sharing information.  Sadly, yes, the Essential Eating line is the first and only commercial certified organic sprouted flour mill in the country that through R&D for the last decade has discovered some amazing new information about sprouting grains.  50+ years ago scientists tested germinated/sprouted grains in laboratories under controlled conditions and reported about the benefits.  Today all sprouted flour producers, except Essential Eating just adopt those claims, when the benefits are in fact not present.  Our challenge is always breaking through the conventional wisdom barrier about sprouting grains and nudging bakers out of the box so they could considering that there is new wisdom that has yet to hit mainstream.  

Yes, as I have mentioned before, I am part of the team at Essential Eating that working to change the way white flour is made in America and present an option to the nutrient devoid flour of our day.  No small feat.  This flour is probably the most revolutionary flour that we'll see in our lifetime and most bakers don't know it exists. Not only is it 100% whole grain, has amazing flavor and great baking characteristics, it is tested along the process to assure the digestive and nutritive benefits are present.  Shazam.

And yes, without testing there is no way to determine if grain has been sprouted so the antioxidants are intact and that the conversion from a starch to a simple sugar has taken place. Unfortunatly a visual check doesn't show this.  Most conventional wisdom about sprouting times would result in drowned grain.  Sprouting without testing usually results in a mix of grain being sprouted, drown and unsprouted. 

Having fielded thousands of emails about high altitude home sprouting dense and gooey baking issues over the years, the solution to Baking Mommy to switch out the flour has worked 100% of the time.  It has never been the recipe or the altitude.  

Thanks for listening and considering.

 

 

katecollins's picture
katecollins

Hey BakingMommy,

Just weighing in and taking a guess that you've been using the Essential Eating Sprouted Wheat Flour.  If so, your results when changing to home-sprouted flour doesn't have anything to do with altitude or your recipe.  We hear this over and over again from those who take a detour to making sprouted flour at home - in high altitudes or not.  Applaud your efforts for doing so, but it's the milling equipment.  When whole grains are sprouted and dried there is some magic in milling them so the baking characteristics are intact. Home mills just can't do the trick and tend to make flour that results in dense or gooey baked goods.  Sorry to rain on your sprouting parade, but been working with sprouted flour for 15 years and have some experience with this.  

And then you might want to read why we all stopped sprouting grain at our kitchen sinks...because there isn't a home test to assure the grain is actually sprouted and has not been just soaked or drowned.  Fine line to capture the antioxidants at their peak and dry the grain so the nutrients and digestive benefits are intact.  Now, soaked and drowned grain is better than unsprouted, but still doesn't have the magic of sprouted.  For more...http://essentialeating.com/ResourcesSprouted.asp#beauty.

Essential Eating is my sprouted flour of choice because they are the only producer testing to assure the flour is sprouted.  No regulation on the word "sprouted" on food labeling so producers just adopt claims they cannot prove.  

Good for you for making the "sprouted" choice.  Nothing like a flour that digests as a vegetable!

Good luck.

Kate

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

At 5300 feet, you will have noticed that the boiling point of water is now 202.8 F (94.88 C).

The higher up you are, the less atmosphere there is to weigh things down, so water boils (phase changes) at different (lower) temperature. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boyle%27s_law)

I don't use bread machines or sprout my own grain, so no idea if temperature is affecting your baking.

I wager, however, that if you check your bread machine's manual, it'll have some way to adjust the machine to account for changes due to increased altitude.

If not, kindly ignore me.