The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dense whole grain bread

Netvet007's picture

Dense whole grain bread

So I decided to try the whole grain sourdough recipe from How to Make Bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. I have never worked with whole grains before for bread.  My 100% hydration starter was at peak and has been a workhorse so I know I had leavening power.  I followed the recipe exactly except I substituted bukgur for cracked wheat as no grocery store around had cracked wheat.  I followed instructions and amounts carefully.

I ended up with a doorstop worthy heavy brick of a loaf. Too embarrassed to post pic.  The whole time I was mixing and"folding", I thought...this can't be right.  And obviously, it wasn't.  It "sort of" rised up but not in a meaningful way.  

So, I think that the flours and grain really absorbed the water more than expected.  In hindsight, I should have added more water right away and not be a slave to the recipe.  But I didn't know what the dough was supposed to feel like so I didn't trust myself. 

The formula was:

200g cracked wheat 

200g water

400g whole wheat flour

12g salt

160g starter

140g water

the cracked wheat (bulgur) and 200g water was mixed together to soften the bulgur.  Then flour and salt were mixed, then water and starter. Soaked bulgur went into the starter mix and then everything tossed together.  It said I could add a little water if stiff, but I think I would have needed a lot of water. A series of stretch and folds never did produce a normal dough to me.

bulk fermented 1 1/2 hours, shaped, then proofed for 4 hours or so.  Baked on pizza stone for 30 minutes or so at 475 degrees.

quite a learning experience.  

Did using bulgur vs cracked wheat make a differnce.  Or was it likely that it needed a higher hydration?

I cut into it today, very dense, tight crumb.  Hubby said it tasted ok, but I couldn't get past the heaviness to enjoy it.



Mebake's picture

Your instincs were right from the beginning, Lisa. Wholegrain flours absorb water differently, and it could wel be that the wholewheat flour, and the cracked wheat you used absorb more water than does the recipe flours. Also, for the % of cracked wheat in the recipe, you should not expect a light open crumbed loaf, they weigh heavily in on the loaf crumb.

Try increasing water gradually as you mix everything - (but the salt), and when you get to a loose (soft) consistency, leave the dough to rest for 20-30 minutes. When the cracked wheat, and whole wheat flour have absorbed the water, you may decided to add more water, or make do with the hydration you have. At the end of the mix, The dough should feel tacky, not stick, in another words should adhere to you skin and not stick to it. The supple/soft feeling of the dough is a good indicator that it will make a light whole grain bread. Softer dough ferment faster, so you should expect it to be ready for baking sooner.

Having said that, you can enjoy the bread you have baked by slicing it thin and enjoying it as an open faced appetizer.



Netvet007's picture

Thank you for your reply.  I am going to be more intuitive with my bread making from here on out.  I will try again and see if I can make a better loaf with more hydration.  I like the idea of an appetizer.  Better than the doorstop.