The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How to get smooth surface with wet whole wheat dough?

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thihal123's picture
thihal123

How to get smooth surface with wet whole wheat dough?

I'm relatively new to baking breads, but my breads have been getting better and better over time. I was even able to get oven rise recently, after having figured out that one mistake I made was that while shaping my loaf, I was not "winding" the dough tight enough to stretch the gluten.

Anyhow, now I have some other problems that I'd like to solve. I typically like a wet whole wheat dough since I use the French method of kneading. My doughs do pass the window pane test just fine. However, because of its wetness along with because it's 100% whole wheat dough, I am never able to get it to a very smooth surface like I am able to when I use only 100% white bread flour. This is especially a problem when I go to shape my dough. The dough is all nicely shaped for the loaf pan but the surface is very bumpy because, well, the dough is sticky and somehow the whole wheat nature of it exacerbates the roughness. I've tried to use a water and brush to smooth out the surface after shaping, but that doesn't seem to work.

Anyone have any tricks that I could try to smooth out the surface of a wet whole wheat dough?

ghazi's picture
ghazi

Hi There

I can see where you are coming from with that issue. Generelly the wet doughs are more of a rustic nature so nothing will be perfect, if anything it adds character. You have to be very quick when shaping to avoid overhandling of the dough which might be causgin the bumpy surface, shaping is by far the most difficult thing to do and i have a long way to go with that also, just keep at it and remebner every loaf will be diferent to the next, as long as your falour is developed i think this the most imoptant. Looks will follow with practice

You should be able to get excellent advice here on the this site, i may not have been of any help but i try my best

ghazi

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Ghazi,

Thank you for your advice. Yes, the flavour of my bread, the crumb texture, and airiness is all very good (according to myself :) :) ). I'm thinking one way I can try to get a nicer surface upon shaping the loaf is to dust the surface with some flour. I notice a lot of artisan breads baked free form has a heavy layer of flour on top.

Cheers,

thihal

Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

Throw some flour down on the surface you are shaping it on and use that to wick up the moisture on what ou want to be the outside of the loaf, flour your hands as well.  Provided you are sparse with the flour this should not change the dough in any way, and as said above, be quick.

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Sean, thank you very much for the tip. I will try that next week when I make bread. 

A question though: when I form my loaf, I actually roll it up tightly in the fashion of a swiss roll. That, so far, seems to give me good results with regards to oven spring. Would the flour that roll up inside the dough cause problems like dry-ness etc. when baked?

I've been so excited about baking bread, it's been a while since I actually bought my own loaf bread! I make bread now about once or so a week! :)

Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

Since you are using a wetter dough, as long as you don't go overboard on the amount of flour, you loaf will absorb the tiny amount of extra flour you are using.

I hope this works for you.

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I am in the habit of pouring a little water (1/4 cup) on top of my loaf just before I put it into the preheated oven.  This has been commented upon in this forum as the cause of my smooth upper crust as shown in my photos.  Apparently the top is very briefly boiled as with bagels.  Obviously this won't work if you aren't using a pan.