The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Whole Grain Bread from The Bread Baker's Assistant

  • Pin It
VNAMan's picture
VNAMan

Whole Grain Bread from The Bread Baker's Assistant

Can anyone help me?  I am new to bread baking nad want to bake a successful whole wheat loaf without resorting to a mix with bread flour. I have not been very successful using Reinhart's whole wheat recipe in his book.  I began by following the recipe to the letter.  I have added gluten to the poolish and the dough and still get a lackluster loaf.  I use bulgar wheat as the soaker.  I have laso tried spent grain.  The dough barely rises to the lip of the pan and then drops some when it bakes.  The taste is acceptable.  Are my expectations too high?

Comments

charbono's picture
charbono

Please post your recipe and indicate the specific flour you are using.  In the meantime, I would recommend limiting ingredients which have low, or no, quality gluten to 25% and saving the VWG for the final mix.

 

VNAMan's picture
VNAMan

I use King Arthur whole wheat flour.  The recipe is from The Bread Baker's Apprentice for whole wheat bread, using a poolish kept overnight in the refrigerator and a course grain soaker.  No other flour is used.  

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

are you sure your yeast is good?

VNAMan's picture
VNAMan

Yes.  I have used new packages of different instant yeasts.

browndog's picture
browndog

I'm not familiar with the Peter's recipe but a good, well-risen whole wheat loaf is not too grand an ambition. How much kneading/mixing do you do? Does the dough rise well the first time, before you shape it and put it in pans? Does your dough feel soft and springy or does it feel like a big, heavy lump?

VNAMan's picture
VNAMan

I mix for 1 minute and kneed with my Kitchen Aid for 12 or so minutes.  It seems to rise fine the first time.  It certainly doubles in size. The second rising is problematic.

browndog's picture
browndog

Well, if it's rising nicely and doubling within a couple hours, I wonder if you might be letting it over-rise the first time (bulk fermentation.) Your dough should look airy and light, even with whole wheat, but you don't want it to have risen so much as to have begun to collapse. If you poke or press the dough the dent will remain if the dough is ready (this can also make a really 'ready' dough collapse--that's okay too, as long as it wasn't already falling back on its own.) The closer the dough gets to being fully risen, the slower the dent takes to fill in. If you're unsure, it's usually better to let it go a little less than more time, as long as it looks good. If you over-ferment by a lot, your yeast runs out of food and doesn't have any oomph left for the final rise.

The same is true once the dough is in the pans. An over-proofed (final rise) loaf will actually shrink some in the oven, rather than gaining height from oven spring, and often comes out wrinkly and flat. Again your dough should look airy and light but without big gas bubbles under the surface. Press the sides and top gently--you want the dent to fill in slowly or even stay put. And again, err on the side of under-proofing if you're not certain. If your kitchen is warmish rather than cool, stated recipe times should be pretty close and you can use them to help judge as well.

Now, sometimes I find that recipes say they make, say, three medium loaves, when I'd rather have two larger ones. Perhaps you just need more dough in your pan? With a whole wheat that's rising nicely, I would expect the dough to fill a 9x5x3 pan 2/3 or 3/4 full, before it even begins to proof.

Your dough will be happiest at 70 degrees or so.

Experience will teach you best, so stick with it. There's no secret handshake necessary--just persistence.

VNAMan's picture
VNAMan

Thanks.  I'll pay more attention to the first rise.

Ramona's picture
Ramona

I make all whole grain breads and I have found that mine only take between 30-50 minutes to fully double in size.  So, I do folds on mine every 30 minutes for about 3-4 times and then I shape them and put them into pans.  Again, they don't take very long at all to rise and I use the finger test and then I bake them from a cold start and get good ovenspring.  I use baker's yeast.  I also do sponges overnight.  I have a couple of times let them overproof and they did sink in the oven.  My family and I favor a Maple Oatmeal loaf bread and it's flavor is definitely more than acceptable.  It is very good.  I have read many comments from people that seem to think that whole wheat bread is just a tolerable bread (and some don't even think that).  It should not be.  It should and can be very deliciously!  You know the one area that I am always working on, is shaping.  I put sunflower seeds in my bread and I have also make cinnamon raisin bread and I have trouble sometimes not tearing the bread when I shpae it, because the seeds or raisins keep poking through.  And if my shaping is off, then my loaves don't rise correctly, as well. 

VNAMan's picture
VNAMan

With the new scare of shortages of wheat due to environmental conditions and disease, can anyone advise me as to the best way to buy and preserve grain or flour in bulk?

Thanks.