The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New to baking. Needing to avoid problem before baking

SonyaBakes's picture

New to baking. Needing to avoid problem before baking

I am new to baking bread. I tried to make Peter Reinhart's whole wheat sandwich bread and made a dense, crumbly brick. Decided to make something simpler and looked on here at the lessons. I went with number one and added some olive oil for some of the water, since reading oil makes a longer lasting loaf. I also decided to add 2 tbsps of rosemary for flavor. I was supposed to add the equivalent of one packet of yeast, but since I couldn't bake it that night, I only added half a teaspoon, since reading that too much yeast can  over-ferment the dough. I also added about 3 more more tbsps of water to make the dough softer, since it was pretty stiff. I kneaded for 12 min by hand.  The recipe is 3 cups of flour at 381 grams using a scale. 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp yeast, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 tbsp rosemary. I let it rest overnight. I checked on it and decided to punch out down. It smells a little sour, But just faintly. It was very smooth and satiny feeling. Now here's the question, will it hold for one more day, or will last over-ferment.

cranbo's picture

Hi SonyaBakes,

Let's break down your recipe:

  • 3 cups whole wheat (WW) flour (381g) 
  • 3/4 cup water (177g) 
  • 1/2 tsp yeast (1.58g) 

There's your problem right there:

water / flour = 177g/381g = .465 = 46.5% hydration, which indeed will yield a very brick-like WW loaf!

For a WW loaf you need at least 65% hydration, 70-75% is better. 

For 381g of WW flour, 70% of 381g is 267g, so use 267g of water (or ~1.25 cups of water). 

1/2 tsp of yeast works out to be about 0.4%, which should reach peak fermentation in 3-4 hours at warm room temp (77F). If you want to hold your bread longer, consider the same amount of yeast, just refrigerate your dough. 

isand66's picture

Also, oil is not counted as part of the hydration or liquid in the dough so if you add oil do not remove water from your recipe.

I bulk retard my doughs almost everytime whether it is a sourdough or yeast recipe.  You are right to cut down the yeast but you may have gone too drastic.  I am traveling right now so I can't reference my yeasted recipes to advise exactly how much to cut it down, but I think it would be around maybe 15% less.  You can keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Just let it come to room temperature for around 1.5 hours before shaping into your loaves.


SonyaBakes's picture

Thanks! I didn't realize that I could just add oil. I actually used bread flour this time. The whole wheat  kind of discouraged me after my complete failure. I also had to add 3 tbsp of water. I guess that"s whey my dough was dry and needed the 3 tbsp. It was really soft and satiny in the end.  I would love to have a basic bread recipe that I can keep in the refrigerator for a day or two. I noticed most people say it adds flavor. Thanks for the advice. I guess I'd better learn baker's percentages!