The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

autolyse or sponge with milk

Ramona's picture
Ramona

autolyse or sponge with milk

I am very new to trying to make bread using whole grains.   I have a few questions.  I appreciate your input.  I have been diligently studying this site for the past couple of weeks and taking many notes.  I am using organic hard winter red wheat and am milling my own.

1.  I don't use salt to cook or bake with.  I know that most feel it is needed for flavor, but my concern is will if affect the bread's performance?

2. If I use an autolyse with milk, can it sit out on the counter or should I put it in the refrigerator?  I have done this once with it on the counter for an hour and once with it in the refrigerator overnight.  And if it goes into the refrigerator, should I let it warm up to room temp. the next day before using it?   I use raw milk.  I also used a sponge with the milk heated up and then put it in the refrigerator overnight.  It was like a dough the next morning, not like a batter. 

3.  The bread with the autolyse for 1 hour was very bland.  I followed a recipe exactly, except for switching the milk for the water.  The recipe also required 2 tablespoons of soy lecithin, which didn't seem to help much.  So I decided to do the autolyse overnight with my next recipe and I increased the milk, honey, and butter.  These were dinner rolls and turned out very tasty.   My family wants a bread that is made from whole wheat, but is not like a brick or heavy crumb.  I buy a bread from Trader Joe's that is called an organic whole wheat artisan sandwich bread.  It's ingredients are organic whole wheat flour, filtered water, sea salt, and organic whey.  That is all.  It is a great sandwich bread.   This is what I am wanting to make.  What are some of your suggestions?  I do not want to use any white flour or all purpose flour or wheat gluten.  I want all organic and for some reason , I can't find organic wheat gluten anywhere.  I shop health food stores all the time and have also looked on the internet. 

4.  Can you explain the soy lecithin to me?  How about ascorbic acid? 

5.  I also only came across one recipe that called for eggs, but stated that if I put the loaf in the refrigerator that it would turn into a brick.  Why would this happen?  

6.  I am using a Kitchen Aid mill and I mill it twice.  It I were to get another mill that grinds the flour finer, would it make a difference in my bread texture?  My family doesn't like the crumb texture, they want the same as the wheat sandwich bread from TJ's.

Thank you so much for helping me.

browndog's picture
browndog

Hi, Ramona, here's what I think:

1. Salt is a major flavor enhancer and I would expect any bread made without it to be bland and take some getting used to. It also has an important function as a yeast growth regulator/inhibitor, perhaps not so much needed in a slower-rising whole wheat.

2. No harm letting a milk-fed autolyse on the counter for an hour or two. I suppose prudence dictates overnight refrigerating. You wouldn't have to let it warm up in the morning but you can expect a sluggish rise til it does. Honestly I think there would be no real harm in letting it sit out anyway, especially with raw milk, if anything you would create a favorably acid environment if the milk started to sour.

Interesting about your sponge turning into dough. Sounds like your whole wheat flour is really absorbent. I don't think you'd catch white flour doing that unless your sponge wasn't very wet at the get-go.

3. Preferments, as you are doing, are the best way to tender whole wheat in my opinion. Certainly fat and sugar in one form or other make the job easier if you don't mind using them. I think a tender 100% whole wheat lean loaf is rather a challenge but not out of reach. You sound like you are trying the right things and will find the best approach by experimenting.

4. Lecithin acts as a fat and should add some moistness, keeping quality, and lightness to your dough, about a tablespoon per loaf. Not a magic bullet, and lots of good bread is made without it. Also good for you. Ascorbic acid creates an acidic pro-yeast-growth environment. Also improves keeping.

5. Brioche is famous for being egg-rich, tender, and over-night refrigeration, so there's nothing inherently wrong with chilling egg dough. It's true that whole wheat dough, being lazy to begin with, gets lazier when it's cold, but if you give it enough time to recover (could be hours) it should work, eggs or no. Unless someone else knows something I don't. It's happened before.

6. Well, I suppose it's a given that a finer flour produces a finer crumb, although my favorite whole wheat bread is made with very coarse flour and sometimes cracked wheat, and it's very easy on the teeth. It uses a sponge, buttermilk, oil and honey, though. Why don't you pick up a little bag of King Arthur organic whole wheat, which is a pretty fine ground flour, and experiment with that before buying a new mill?

Hope this helps some.

 

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== 5. Brioche is famous for being egg-rich, tender, and over-night refrigeration, so there's nothing inherently wrong with chilling egg dough. ===

Our overnight cinnamon roll recipe has egg in it and it rises quite well in the refrigerator. Sometimes too well in fact and it overflows the pan.

sPh

susanfnp's picture
susanfnp

Hi Ramona, and welcome!

I don't think you will be very happy if you try to make bread without any salt. In addition to regulating fermentation, salt improves the strength of the dough, making it better able to retain gas, and makes it less sticky and easier to work with. If you do decide to go salt-free, I would suggest finding recipes specially developed without salt, rather than just omitting the salt from any old recipe.

For whole grain baking, look into Peter Reinhart's new book. I don't have my copy yet but it seems very promising for making 100% whole-grain breads.

--

Susanfnp

http://www.wildyeastblog.com

sphealey's picture
sphealey

My observation would be that you are taking on a number of different challenges at once. None of them are difficult to handle individually, but together at one time they could be overwhelming. Especially as some of them interact.

I would recommend that you obtain copies of Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book and the King Arthur Flour Whole Grains Cookbook and start with some of the simpler whole wheat recipes therein. Once you have those down you will have the experience and confidence [also the trust of the bread eaters in your family ;-) ] to start branching out and experimenting.

Similarly you might want to start out with some high quality commercial whole wheat flour (such as King Arther Organic Whole Wheat) for your first few weeks. Once you get a feel for how dough works with standardized flour you can then move into grinding your own which does present a few additional problems.

That's my 0.02.

sPh

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Good feedback from everyone. Here's my $0.02.

1. I don't use salt to cook or bake with. I know that most feel it is needed for flavor, but my concern is will if affect the bread's performance?
As everyone else has said, in baking bread, salt not only adds important flavor (it'll be very bland without it) but even in whole wheat bread, salt controls the activity of the yeast. Without salt, your yeast will work much faster and, perhaps, more unevenly.

And the amount of salt in bread is typically very low. In a 1.5 lb loaf of bread, for instance, there's probably just 8 to 9 grams of salt, which is less 1/3 of an ounce. If you figure 16 slices, that's about half a gram of salt per slice.
2. If I use an autolyse with milk, can it sit out on the counter or should I put it in the refrigerator? I have done this once with it on the counter for an hour and once with it in the refrigerator overnight. And if it goes into the refrigerator, should I let it warm up to room temp. the next day before using it? I use raw milk. I also used a sponge with the milk heated up and then put it in the refrigerator overnight. It was like a dough the next morning, not like a batter.
Whole wheat soaks up a lot of liquid. I add about 1/4 cup more water to whole wheat recipes than I do to a white flour recipe. In baker's percentages, a white flour recipe that might have 60% water, a whole wheat would be 80-85%.

In addition, liquids and flour, when left to their own devices, will essentially knead themselves into a dough chemically. This, in combination with the increased "thirstiness" of whole wheat, is why your sponge looked like a dough.

As far as using milk, I often use a soaker with milk. It's fine on the counter. If I'm doing a soaker overnight (which means there's no yeast), I'll add part of the salt so that ensymes in the bread don't go too crazy.
3. The bread with the autolyse for 1 hour was very bland. I followed a recipe exactly, except for switching the milk for the water. The recipe also required 2 tablespoons of soy lecithin, which didn't seem to help much. So I decided to do the autolyse overnight with my next recipe and I increased the milk, honey, and butter. These were dinner rolls and turned out very tasty. My family wants a bread that is made from whole wheat, but is not like a brick or heavy crumb. I buy a bread from Trader Joe's that is called an organic whole wheat artisan sandwich bread. It's ingredients are organic whole wheat flour, filtered water, sea salt, and organic whey. That is all. It is a great sandwich bread. This is what I am wanting to make. What are some of your suggestions? I do not want to use any white flour or all purpose flour or wheat gluten. I want all organic and for some reason , I can't find organic wheat gluten anywhere. I shop health food stores all the time and have also looked on the internet.
If you're using high-quality whole wheat flour (I think King Arthur is best, myself), you probably won't need wheat gluten. And as I see you're grinding yourself, look for hard red spring wheat. It's the highest in protein, and will give you a better rise.

Here's a recipe I use a lot. It's adapted from Peter Reinhart's new whole grains book. Flour is variable for cups, depending on whether you've got a heavy or a light hand. The dough itself will be fairly soft, but will hang together. You should be able to knead it by hand once it's combined the next morning. If not, add flour 1 Tbs at a time:

Night before
Soaker
  • Whole wheat flour: 1.5 to 2 cups - 225 grams
  • Buttermilk or milk: 1.5 cups - 190 grams
  • Salt: 3/4 tsp or 4 grams


Sponge
  • Whole wheat flour: 1.5 to 2 cups - 225 grams
  • Water: 1.5 cups - 190 grams
  • Instant yeast: Just a pinch

Mix up the soaker in one container and the sponge in another just until everything is hydrated. Let them sit at room temperature over night.
The next morning
  • All of the soaker and the sponge
  • Honey: 2 Tbs or 42 grams
  • Unsalted butter: 1 Tbs or 14 grams
  • Yeast: 1 tsp or 3 grams
  • Salt: 3/4 tsp or 5 grams


Tear the soaker and the sponge into about a dozen pieces each, and mix them together. Add the salt, yeast, honey and butter. Knead for about 3-4 minutes, adjust the flour if necessary, let it rest 5 minutes, and then knead it again for about a minute. Form it into a ball, cover it, and let it rise for about 1.5 to 2 hours until a wet finger makes an indentation that fills back in only very slowly.

Shape into a loaf and, if desired, roll it in sesame, poppy or other seeds. Place into a pre-greased pan, cover with plastic or a damp towel, and let it rise until it's crowned about 1 inch above the rim in the center -- probably 90 minutes. Slash down the center, if desired, and bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, until the center of the loaf is at least 190 degrees.

4. Can you explain the soy lecithin to me? How about ascorbic acid?
I'll defer to Browndog here. I use it as grease for my pans -- 1 part soy lecithin to 2 parts canola oil. Great stuff for greasing.
5. I also only came across one recipe that called for eggs, but stated that if I put the loaf in the refrigerator that it would turn into a brick. Why would this happen?
Hmmm. I've not heard this myself, but Browndog sounds like she's on target to me.

6. I am using a Kitchen Aid mill and I mill it twice. It I were to get another mill that grinds the flour finer, would it make a difference in my bread texture? My family doesn't like the crumb texture, they want the same as the wheat sandwich bread from TJ's.I use a Wondermill, which grinds the wheat very fine. In fact, it's impossible to get a really coarse grind, which is a bit of a pain. It will give you a different texture and a higher rise with finer flour.

I hope this is helpful. Best of luck!

browndog's picture
browndog

JMonkey, it's a little like having Superman swoop down out of the sky in as usual the nick of time. Who knew he was even in the neighborhood?

Did you know I felt a disturbance in the Force somewhere around the 25th of July?

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I'm preparing the whole wheat formula above and noticed you mention adding the salt etc in the final dough but it's not in the item list. Also the salt in the soaker is about half of what I would expect for 450g of ww flour.  Is this correct or did the salt drop off the list?

Eric

ehanner's picture
ehanner

jmonkey or anyone with Rhinehart's new Whole Grains book, could someone please check the recipe that jmonkey posted above to see if the salt is correct in the final dough. There is salt in the soaker but not the amount I would normally expect for 450 grams of flour. I made a batch yesterday and added an additional 5 grams salt in the final dough. The bread was delicious and not salty at all.  I also swapped 50 g of rye in the soaker. I'm guessing this was a typo but if someone would check, I'd appreciate it.

Eric

Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

 

Hi,

Did you miss the 5g salt in the final dough? The recipe calls for a total of 9g of salt for 450g of flour = 2%. That's fairly standard.

 

Larry 

Ramona's picture
Ramona

Thank you all for so much help!  I really appreciate it!  And thank you JMonkey for the recipe, I will be trying this.  I do have one more question.  For buttermilk in any of my baking recipes, I just add 1 tablespoon of raw cider vinegar to a cup of milk.  Would this work for buttermilk in this recipe or for that matter, any recipe for bread? 

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

It will! Though I prefer buttermilk myself, it'll definitely do in a pinch.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

5. I also only came across one recipe that called for eggs, but stated that if I put the loaf in the refrigerator that it would turn into a brick. Why would this happen?

Oh, Oh, I think I have a thought....  Key here is loaf, and I believe that would be after it was baked.  Normally a recipe with many eggs, also has a lot of butter.  A soft buttery loaf, stored in the refrigerator would get harder, and drier too.  Better to store at room temperature.  Does that make sense?     --Mini Oven

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

Ramona on August 16, 2007 wrote:
I am using a Kitchen Aid mill and I mill it twice. It I were to get another mill that grinds the flour finer, would it make a difference in my bread texture? My family doesn't like the crumb texture, they want the same as the wheat sandwich bread from TJ's.

I'm surprised that you're not getting a sufficiently fine flour with your KA grain mill, since I assume you're following the procedure I gave in response to the thread kernals-or-berries which you started on July 26, 2007.

Using the double-milling procedure, I can get a whole wheat flour comparable in fineness to King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Four

which is milled from (nonorganic) hard red spring wheat.

Making 100% whole wheat bread does require practice. Many bakers prefer a lot of kneading for this kind of bread. Also, the use of a soaker or poolish with your whole grain flour can contribute to a better product. Working with whole grain bread recipies (especially 100% whole grain) does require a learning process. In general, I find a long dough-making process (even spread out over a day or two) works well for whole grain breads.

If you experiment with these kinds of extended processes, which often use over-night refrigeration, you may find that hard red winter wheat (as opposed to hard red spring wheat) may work better for you. While spring wheat generally has a higher protein value (by scientific tests) there is some evidence that winter wheat may hold up better to long rising periods (even though, scientifically, it's protein value is lower). Jeffrey Hamelman, in his book Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes gives some attention to this.

ryaninoz's picture
ryaninoz

 As others have stated, I'd not omit the salt unless the recipe was developed without salt. In addition salt doing all the things the others have listed in the post, as noted it acts to strengthen and develop the gluten in breads, so you really do need sal and as noted the amount of salt is neglible in the end.

 

Ryan Propst

Sydney, Australia