The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New to site and bread baking

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ilandgirl2013's picture
ilandgirl2013

New to site and bread baking

I am very new to this site and just started milling my own flour and attempting to bake whole wheat bread.  My bread could be used a paver stone.  It is so dense!  I'm not sure if I'm not kneading it enough (with a kA mixer) or where my problem is coming from but I'm getting really discouraged.  I hope I haven't wasted my money on a 45# bucket of hard white wheat and a mill.  Any help, advice or suggestions are welcomed!

fotomat1's picture
fotomat1

to have to provide more info than that. Recipe?  Method start to finish? Pan or not? Stone or not?

isand66's picture
isand66

There are a ton of great recipes on this site you should read.  Your results will  be determined by your procedure and recipe.  Are you using a starter or yeast and are you doing a 100% WW or mixing it with some AP or bread flour?  You may not be letting the dough rise long enough or you may not be developing the gluten enough.  Give us more info and photos and we can help you for sure.  Don't throw away your wheat yet :)

ilandgirl2013's picture
ilandgirl2013

I am just using a rapid rise yeast and milling my hard grain wheat.  In reading other posts and it seems that I am not developing my gluten as demonstrated by the window pane method.  I also think that my mixer may not be powerful enough to mix two loafs of ww.  I am trying to purchase a bosch compact mixer but not sure I want to invest in the mixer if I'm not getting the homemade bread technique.  Thank you for your suggestions.  I will repost when I attempt this process again.

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

I'm a one note samba on this subject, but here I go again:  there are so many little things one has to know to make bread that I am of the opinion that learning to bake the way professionals do is, for some people, a good idea.  Bakers go to school where they learn from textbooks and practice combined.  Yes, school, textbooks, and practice.  While probably everything you need to know can be found here and there on this website (I read it at least once a day), I think a carefully thought out plan of attack should start with learning from an expert.  In the absence of an expert, read a textbook written by an expert.  And by this I don't mean a bread cookbook; I mean a book written for a carefully considered course.  Learning this way allows the beginner to build his/her knowledge from the ground up.

Here are two very different options, both of which may be found in your public library or used (for this check Alibris or Powell's books):  DiMuzio's Bread Baking and Hamelman's Bread.  I've been baking for 40 years now and wish I'd had the DiMuzio when I started.  I wasted so much time trying to reinvent the wheel and not knowing why I couldn't get it.   Hamelman is great for some, but for my money it's a bit much for a beginner.  

Also, watch all the videos you can as soon as possible.  I don't think it's important to learn everything they say; just  watch them to see what's available out there in video format.  Go back to them when they're appropriate to something you're doing on down the road.

You may also want to find a local mentor or take a course yourself.  There are things about making and working doughs (the choreography of hand movements, for example) which watching then doing with real dough helps one learn so much faster than texts or videos.

And please, yes, do tell us about your successes and failures.  We love it!  But when folks offer advice, check with your expert, whether DiMuzio, Hamelman, or some other textbook author.

 

 

 

 

ilandgirl2013's picture
ilandgirl2013

Thank you so much for taking the time to thoroughly address my e-mail.  I value your input and will research the topic of making whole wheat bread as much as feasible via books and internet.  I do not have the privilege of knowing anyone at this point in my life that knows or has the interest in baking whole wheat bread.  I do however have a dear friend that is very good at baking bread using AP flour but that texture appears to feel different.  In any case, I am a persistent women and will continue to experiment with the resources you have provided me and social media and hope that someday I will be able to bake a presentable loaf.  

All the best,

-sg

isand66's picture
isand66

I would highly recommend Peter Reinhart's whole grain baking book as well. He has some innovative techniques for baking with whole grains.  

ilandgirl2013's picture
ilandgirl2013

Thank you for your recommendation.  I will google this book on Amazon.  All help is certainly welcome!

Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.

Just one question: are you using freshly milled flour in your bread? If so this is a potential problem. Freshly milled “green” flour generally produces inferior bread. The flour needs to take up oxygen before it can be baked into an acceptable loaf of bread. After milling, store the flour in a breathable container (like a cloth sack) for at least four weeks before using it to bake bread.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Yeah, that was my thought too: Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Bread has a whole bunch of tips and tricks for the home baker trying their hand at whole grains.  I've just started milling a wee bit at home too and have been referring to his book quite a bit (though it is worth stating that he doesn't spend much time talking about home milling, he just has really good formulas and techniques for baking whole grain breads at home).

ilandgirl2013's picture
ilandgirl2013

I have been using freshly milled wheat.  Perhaps I will store some as you suggested and give it a try that way.  Thanks for your recommendation.

Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.

I went back and did a little research on flour storage. My source is "Baking Science and Technology" by EJ Pyler, second edition, Chapter 7, pages 352-358.

Immediately after milling, wheat flour will not produce good bread unless it is chemically bleached. After 5 days, the flour enters a respiration phase, also known as "sweating". It is impossible to produce bread until the sweating is complete (in about 3 weeks). Flour quality continues to improve for a time, until the trend reverses and the flour begins to deteriorate.

Six to eight weeks of aging should produce mature flour.

hardough4010's picture
hardough4010

Bob S you said "Immediately after milling, wheat flour will not produce good bread unless it is chemically bleached."

In Europe, flour cannot be bleached, how does that work?

Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.

Both bleached and unbleached flour are produced in the US. Unbleached flour must be aged under controlled conditions for a period of time before it is suitable for bread baking. This is a greater expense for the miller, as a storage facility must be provided. During the aging period, the flour becomes oxidized and is "bleached" naturally.

Even with chemically bleached flour, it can only produce bread for a few days after being freshly milled. Even then, the results are often not good. It must then be aged for several weeks before being used to bake bread again.

ilandgirl2013's picture
ilandgirl2013

Hi Floydm,

I am going to google Amazon for this book and hope that his techniques will get me in the right direction!

chris319's picture
chris319

Might I suggest learning to hand knead before spending money on a new mixer? There are plenty of videos on YouTube which show you how to hand knead. It's important that you learn what properly-kneaded dough looks and feels like.

ilandgirl2013's picture
ilandgirl2013

Great idea!  I suppose that is a pretty important step!  I'm not in a big hurry to purchase a mixer but at some point I will do so not only for the purpose of baking bread for for other culinary needs.  Currently, I have a small Kitchen Aid which was passed down to me from a friend.  It doesn't always work at the low setting and seems to be overheating when I mix the dough at one of the higher settings.

chris319's picture
chris319

It says so in the manual and this is normal. It's not overheating, they just run warm.

isand66's picture
isand66

Beware you can strip the plastic gear they use depending on how old of a model you have.  I had to replace the gears twice on both of my mixers before I bought a the Bosch Universal.

chris319's picture
chris319

The plastic "failsafe" gear as it is called, is designed to strip if the mixer is overloaded. If the motor were severely overloaded, it could stall, overheat and turn into a smoky mess and possible fire, and of course a dead mixer.

Every electric mixer user needs to pay attention to the sound of the motor. If it sounds like it is laboring, i.e. turning at fewer revolutions per minute and thus a lower pitch, turn off the mixer immediately and check to see if it is being overloaded.

isand66's picture
isand66

Sorry to disagree with you but this has nothing to do with a fail safe device..  It's simply when KA was purchased by Sunbeam they cheapened up the product and replaced a steel gear for an inferior plastic one.  I've been told on newer models they have gone back to a steel gear after numerous complaints.  i bought a Bosche Universal which has the motor on the base instead of the top so there is no chance of any gears stripping.

ilandgirl2013's picture
ilandgirl2013

Thanks for your guidance regarding the mixer.  I am not as as familiar with what I should be listening/looking for regarding sound and strain of motor.   I would hate to burn the house down due to mixing ww bread!

ilandgirl2013's picture
ilandgirl2013

So how do you like the bosch mixer?

isand66's picture
isand66

I love it.  If yiu are only doing a recipe for a single small loaf of bread it's probably not for you but if you mix 800 grams or more of flour tHan it's great.  There are several threads on this site which talk about different mixers if you are in the market.  I can only tell you I am very happy with it.

chris319's picture
chris319

KitchenAid was not purchased by Sunbeam.

If someone were to buy a new KA today and the formerly-plastic gear has been replaced with a metal one, I don't see where the problem is.

Ilandgirl: run your mixer with no dough in the bowl and get used to the sound it makes. If you start to mix a lot of stiff dough and the pitch of the motor sound is lower and it seems to turn more slowly, you're probably overloading it. This applies to all brands of mixer: Bosch, KitchenAid, Ankarsrum, all of them, anything with an electric motor, blenders too.

ilandgirl2013's picture
ilandgirl2013

Hi Chris319,

From what you have described, I am overloading the mixer.  But should this be happening when mixing 2 loaves of ww bread?  Sorry for so many questions. 

Donkey_hot's picture
Donkey_hot

This should not be a problem, assuming an appropriate degree of dough hydration.   

isand66's picture
isand66

Yes you are correct they are now owned by Whirlpool who bought it from Hobart.  I was referring to older models.  I'm forbidden from using my wife's KA after stripping the gear twice which is why I bought the Bosch.  The design of the Bosch is ideal for mixing larger batches of dough and heavier rye and whole wheat formulas.

chris319's picture
chris319

Try putting half a batch of dough into your mixer and see how it reacts, paying attention to the sound of the motor and its speed.

chris319's picture
chris319

I have a KA K5A which I picked up for a song on ebay. It looks and runs great. I have heard good things about the Bosch Universal. If my KA were to die a sad death, the Bosch Universal would be on the short list.

That said, any mixer can be overloaded so be careful.