100% whole grain sourdough-what am I missing?
My formula that makes beautiful, mild, high, open, chewy loaves at 80-someodd percent whole grain, makes moist but closed, low, somewhat crumbly 100% whole grain breads. They aren’t GOOD bread, they’re just BREAD. I need to know what to tinker with next, to make my formula work at 100% whole grain.
I use a wet starter that remains at room temp. I maintain using 10g starter, 10g whole grain rye flour and 16.5g warm water. I refresh once or twice a day with occasional 24+ hour lapses as my memory permits. It remains quite active and slightly frothy.
My standard formula works this way:
The morning before a bake, I make slightly more starter. 11g starter, 11g whole grain rye, 19g water.
That evening, I use all the morning’s starter, adding 41g whole rye flour and 68g water.
The morning of a bake, I remove 10g starter for maintenance. The rest I add to 140g whole wheat flour and 232g water. I give this 2 hours at room temp to mature.
Simultaneously I prepare a hot soaker by boiling a pot of water and measuring out 375g boiling water and 375g tap water, then adding 820g whole wheat flour. I mix roughly and let it sit the 2 hours while the starter matures.
At the two hour mark I add 200g whole wheat flour to the soaker and give it 20-30 minutes to hydrate. I sprinkle on 24.3g salt and knead this dough 15 minutes. I then incorporate my starter, which is very wet, with a fold-and-punch motion until it is smooth.
The dough gets 5 hours in a warm room to bulk ferment with 6 stretch and folds during the first three hours. It bulks up nicely and I feel good gluten development.
I turn out without deflating, divide, and tightly round two loaves and proof them seam side down in bannetons no more than an hour at room temp. They grow very fast at 100% whole grain, and I suspect one problem I’m having is over-proofing even at the one hour mark. I refrigerate the second loaf but even so the first one oven-springs more than the second. I don’t slash, instead letting the seam side (which is up, Ken Forkish style) open naturally.
I bake in a dutch oven 475F, 30 minutes with the lid on and 17 minutes with the lid off.
As I say with at least some white flour, say the final 200g of flour being white, this makes a loaf I am very proud of. With 100% whole grain, it is not a bad sandwich bread but it isn’t what I call a fine hearth bread. I have even choked a couple of times on crumbles while eating toast-NOT a sign of good texture!
I also miss out on the distinctive chewiness of sourdough. Flavor wise, I would like to develop the flavor (not necessarily the sourness) a more. The hot soaker does improve sweetness and softness but I know it probably does the structure of the bread no favors. My thought process with it was also to soften up the bran better, to allow better extensibility; but it isn’t working out.
I tried reducing the hydration this past weekend and it resulted in an identical texture. No change, for better OR worse.
What should I try next?