The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Multigrain trouble

timlshu's picture

Multigrain trouble

Ok, I'm having a bit of a problem making a loaf of bread. I could really use some help. The bread is half whole weat and half assorted grains. I mix the wheat flour, yeast, mollases, salt and 110 deg water and then let it sit in a bread prrofer at 90 for about a half hour. The mixture rises beautifully and cretes a nice sponge. I then mix in the mixed grains and extra wheat glutten and kneed for about 10 min. I form two loaves and place then back into the proofer at 90 deg. The dough will rise beautifuly for about 15 min and stop. At this stage they have only risen about 50%, and they will go no further. When I bake the loaves at 375 deg, the bread falls flat.

I can make a beautiful loaf of white bread, super easy. I just don't understand what I am doing wrong with the multigrain bread.

3 C. Whole wheat

1/2 c. Wheat gluten

1/2. milled flax seed

1/2 c. rye

1/2 c. buckwheat

1/2 c. corn meal

1/2 c. oats

3/4 tsp salt

4 tsp. yeast

1 tbsp. molasses

2 tsp. olive oil

1 1/2 +2 tbsp. water (110 deg)


Thanks for the help.

MangoChutney's picture

You shouldn't knead the bread after the first rise.  That destroys all of the air-bubble structure that the yeast has made in the dough.  You do want to soak the whole wheat flour, but do that without the yeast being present.  Put everything except any whole grains (not milled) into the bowl.  Leave out the yeast (and a little of the water if the yeast needs to be mixed with water first).  Let it all soak for half-an-hour.  Add the yeast and knead.  At the end of the kneading, fold in any un-milled grains (and nuts, and fruits).  Rise, form into loaves, rise again, and bake.

pmccool's picture

Let's begin with the yeast.  Four teaspoons of yeast (I'm assuming either active dry or instant dry yeast) for three cups of flour is far more than is needed.  Suggest you try using just one teaspoon of yeast, instead.

Then let's look at the temperatures.  The 110F water and the 90F proofing temperatures combine to force a turbo-speed fermentation, especially in combination with the large quantity of yeast.  Even with your short fermentation times, the bread is overproofed; as evidenced by the collapsing loaves.

The salt content is rather low, less than one percent by my estimate.  That also allows faster fermentation.  I suggest that the salt be increased to 1.5%, or 1.5 teaspoons, approximately.

And then we need to examine the moisture content.  Assuming that the flour and grains weigh 140g per cup (not exact, but close enough for estimating purposes), you have 6 cups of flours, gluten, and grains, or 840g.  The water weighs about 380g, plus a skosh from the molasses.  Let's call it 385g.  The oil, although it will lubricate things, does not contribute any moisture.  So, the dough has a hydration of 385/(6*140)*100=46%.  That's drier than bagel dough!  Even if you are light-handed with your measurements and each cup only weighs 125g, the math works out to 385/(6*125)*100=51%.  That's right in the range of a lot of bagels, which are known for a very stiff dough.  And, whole grains can absorb more water than their white equivalents before they feel as wet as the white flour dough.  A dry dough will typically have much less expansion than a wetter dough.

I'll take a small exception to MangoChutney's advice, but only in the context of your mention of a sponge.  If that is what you are attempting, then you should only pre-ferment a portion of the flour in the sponge.  You might want to try just one cup of the whole wheat flour, instead of all three.  In that case, kneading after mixing the final dough is acceptable.  I will, however, heartily endorse MC's advice that you pre-soak some or all of the flour.

The other thing that seems to me to be unneeded is the 1/2 cup of gluten.  Unless you have a very weak flour, it usually isn't required.  If you do use it, the maximum amount that I have seen recommended is about one tablespoon per cup of flour.  In your case that would be three tablespoons, not the eight that are in 1/2 cup.

Here's how I would restructure the recipe, assuming that all of the grains are at least flaked or milled to a meal, if not finer:

1. Combine the whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1-1/4 cup of cool water.  Cover and let stand overnight.

2. Combine the flax, rye, buckwheat, corn meal, oats, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1-1/2 cups of cool water.  Cover and let stand overnight.

3. The next morning, mix the two soakers together.  Mix in the molasses and the olive oil.  Mix in the yeast.

4. Turn the dough out on a floured work surface and knead until everything is evenly distributed and the dough springs back when pushed, about 10-12 minutes.

5. Place the dough in a container that lets you see how much it grows, cover, and allow to ferment until nearly doubled in volume.

6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide into two equal pieces.  Shape into loaves, place in greased 8x4 pans and allow to ferment until the poke test indicates that the dough is fully proofed.

7. Bake as you normally would.

Things to note: water content is up, markedly.  Salt is also increased, per my earlier comment.  For whole-grain soakers that are given all night to work, I suggest that salt be added to the soaker to keep the enzyme activity within acceptable bounds.  The gluten has been left out entirely.  If you do use the proofer during the bulk and final fermentations, try a temperature that is in the 75-80F range.

I think that this will give you a more reliable bread.  There are a high percentage of non-wheat ingredients, so this isn't going to be a light and fluffy bread under any circumstances.  Even the addition of gluten won't get around that.  The overnight soak of the whole-wheat flour gives it plenty of time to develop all of the gluten it naturally contains.  The kneading is primarily to get everything uniformly distributed and aligned.

Without knowing your dough-handling comfort level, you may at first think that this is a wet dough.  Depending on how much flour you put in a cup, it should be under 70% hydration.  With the whole-grain content sucking up some of the water, that should be manageable.  You may have to do some tweaking on the water amounts to get things exactly as you want.

The last word of advice: buy a scale.  Achieving consistently good bread and understanding how things work together is so much easier when weighing ingredients than it is with volume measurements.  

Best of luck with your future bakes.


MangoChutney's picture

I misunderstood the state of the mixed grains. I thought they were flakes or chops, except obviously for the corn meal which isn't much.

timlshu's picture

I made a mistake on the recipe. I ment to say that I am using 2 1/2 c +2tsp. I also use 1 1/2 tsp of salt. I keep switching between one and two loaves recipe. I have tried several different methods of mixing the dough, and they all do the same thing. They rise rapidly for about 15 min and then fall flat. What confuses me is that every once in a great while it will rise beautifully, but I can never seem to duplicate my efforts.

All of the non wheat grain are milled into flour.

I did just buy a scale so that I can get more consistant results.

I will be making another two loaves soon, so I will let you know how it turns out.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

even 3 teaspoons  or 17g for this recipe.  Taste the finished mixed dough to make a decision.  Paul's overhaul looks much better and I agree with MC not kneading 10 minutes after the bulk rise.  

There are 2 1/2 cups of non-gluten ingredients to 3 cups of whole wheat flour.  Soaked seeds and whole/cracked grains will act more like nuts pieces than if they are ground into flour, a ground flour mixture might require added gluten as it goes well over 1/3 of the total flour weight.  (even more if the grains are measured by volume first and then milled.)  Weighing would erase that margin of error.  A lower amount of added gluten would then be stirred into the dry flour mixture to avoid clumping.   Either way it cannot rise like a white bread so comparing them only serves to describe that the loaf will not be as lofty or soft as a white bread.  So don't feel this loaf must be tall like white bread to be successful.  It just won't happen.  

Looking forward to the next bake.  :)

Edit: I agree with Paul that the over-fermenting is a problem causing the loaf to flatten.  You might consider lowering the proofing temp to 80°F.  Using grains as flour would require more yeast, how about 2 tsp?  The additional salt will help control erratic rising. (it can be different with every batch when the salt is too low)