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Help me learn from my first high hydration whole wheat experiment

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Help me learn from my first high hydration whole wheat experiment

I got the bug again today to experiment with bread making (seems to happen once every two months). I wanted to try a few things I have never tried before...

  • High Hydration (I love the idea of an artisinal bread whose crumb is shiny/glossy and full of flavor)
  • Autolyse (I read this does wonders for making whole wheat easier to work with and rise better).
  • Cooking in a ceramic pot (Romertopf brand)

I am hoping you all can read my final recipe, my thought process for making changes to the initial recipe, and give me feedback on everything so that I can learn. I am in the middle of making the recipe right now, I have only mixed up the preferment and started the autolyse.

As my starting point, I chose a 100% whole wheat recipe from the book "Bread Science" by Emily Buehler. The recipe uses a preferment (sponge) and has a 75% hydration. The recipe does not include directions for an autolyse step.

I've already made a few dozen loaves using a preferment, and I always like the improved flavor and I think the dough is easier to work with. Additionally, I HAVE made high hydration dough on accident and loved it, so, I am fairly used to working with really loose dough, but I have never made one intentionally (if you want to know how I could accidentally make high hydration dough, just ask).

Here is the initial recipe:

  • Full Recipe: Whole Wheat: 374 g, Wheat Bran: 19 g, Water: 280 g, Yeast: 2 g, Salt: 7 g
  • Sponge: Whole Wheat: 187 g, Water: 140 g, Yeast: Pinch
  • Dough: Whole Wheat: 187 g, Wheat Bran: 19 g, Sponge: 327 g, Water: 140 g, Yeast: 2 g, Salt: 7 g
  • Sponge for 12 to 15 hours, mix dough, rise twice then shape into boule, after proofing, cook on preheated pizza stone at 460 F for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on rack.

Here are my modifications and reasons why:

  • Doubled recipe. I plan to cook one of the loaves on the pizza stone and one inside a clay pot so I can compare the difference.
  • Increased hydration from 75% to 100%. After mixing the autolyse, the dough was very dry, looked like 50% hydration dough. I assume this was the result of using 100% whole grain wheat. So... I decided to up the hydration to 100% and I liked the semi-soupy autolayze that resulted.
  • Swapped Cracked Wheat for Wheat Bran. I didn't have any wheat bran in the pantry, I am hoping cracked wheat will suffice.
  • Took all of the non-sponge whole wheat/cracked wheat/water and premixed it to start the autolyse (going to autolyse for about 14 hours). The original recipe did not have an autolyse step... I hope this is the right way to do it?
  • Plan to soak the clay pot in water, warm up in cold oven, and add icewater container to oven.

Here is the final recipe:

  • Full Recipe: Whole Wheat: 748 g, Cracked Wheat: 38 g, Water: 748 g, Yeast: 4 g, Salt: 14 g
  • Sponge: Whole Wheat: 374 g, Water: 280 g, Yeast: 2 Pinches
  • Autolyse: Whole Wheat: 374 g, Wheat Bran: 38 g, Water: 468 g
  • Dough: Sponge, Autolyse, Yeast: 4 g, Salt: 14 g
  • Let sponge and autolyse do their thing for 12 to 14 hours. Combine the sponge, autolyse, salt, and yeast and Knead them in Electrolux Assistant. Let rise twice. Divide into 2, proof both loaves, cook one on pizza stone and the other in ceramic pot. Convection at 435 F.

Initial Questions:

  • Was I crazy for flippantly upping the hydration from 75% to 100% after seeing how dry the dough looked?
  • Was my cracked wheat substitution ok?
  • I have never made an autolyse before and I really wanted to use one, especially in a whole wheat recipe. Did I do it right? Is 14 hours of autolyse too long? Am I using the term properly?
  • I thought I needed to soak cracked wheat or wheat bran before using, but the original recipe didn't include directions for soaking the wheat bran. Are the original directions incorrect? Is including the cracked wheat in the autolyse a sufficient way to pre-soak cracked wheat?
  • I was gifted a Romertopf clay pot with lid, any tips on using it? The pot is a kind of dirty, should I worry about cleaning it? Should I soak it? Should I warm the pot on top of the pizza stone, or will that result in uneven cooking of the dough?
  • What are your thoughts in general about the final recipe?
  • And... any other comments you all might have, I want to suck the knowledge out of your heads!

A few notes:

  • I weighed everything.
  • Flour used: The Baker's Scoop HEB Brand, 100% Whole Grain Winter Wheat. I probably should have used a better brand of whole wheat.
  • Cracked Wheat Used: Rainy Day Foods Cracked Wheat, Cracked hard red wheat.

Thanks in advance!

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Sorry,  while I mostly bake 100% whole wheat, I haven't used yeast or a sponge in years, mostly I use a sourdough starter.

First, yes, you are crazy to go from 75% to 100% hydration.  It may work out, but in the future, I would go with smaller changes - 75% to 80% is  a big increase

There are many theories on autolyze,  some go for 1/2 hour to an hour, then knead for a much shorter time to get to  a window pane.  Others go 12 hours or more, though often i see a suggestion that autolyze be done in a refrigerator when it is very long. 

Have never dealt with cracked wheat ,  so can't help you there.

On the clay pot, yes I would rinse it out , though Williams and Sonoma care instructions say to never use soap, though you can use baking soda or salt.  Use and Care That same page says not to put in a hot oven, instead load the loaf into the pot, put into the oven and turn on.  I have read that some users soak in water, but not sure if that is worthwhile.  

Final comment, glad you are weighing everything, also a great idea to write everything down, either on paper or on a computer, then make notes on bake time and procedures, and how it turns out.  That gives you a starting point for the next variation. 

 

 

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

but I can't see why these tips won't apply to a commercial yeast dough as well.

First of, I think it's reasonable to up the hydration to 100% for 100% whole wheat dough as long as you're comfortable with it. Whole wheat is thirsty so it needs so much water to be fully hydrated.

Second, a longer autolyse is not always better or necessary in my opinion. I advise you to sift out the bran and soak it separately for as long as you like. However, hydrating the flour for prolonged time can sometimes have detrimental effect on dough structure, especially if freshly milled or sprouted flour is used (though I guess you're just using bagged flour?). The protease in flour can break down the gluten excessively, which results in a even weaker dough. I found 15-30 minutes is plenty given that the bran is soaked ahead separately.

Here is one of my recent attempt at 100% whole wheat. Although it's 50% freshly milled flour and 50% sprouted flour, I hope it might still provide some guides for you.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/56722/vibrant-orange-sourdough-pancetta-100-whole-wheat-sd-50-sprouted

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Thanks for the great feedback.

Based on ya'lls comments, I am going to put the autolyse in the fridge for the rest of the time (after 6 hours at 78 degrees).

barryvabeach, my thought was I should heat the clay pot in a cold oven up to cooking temp, and then drop my dough into the hot pot. I have never tried making a bread without preheating the oven first... how would a slow temperature rise affect things like oven bloom, cooking times, crust hardness, etc?

Elsie, you gave me a lot things I need to learn about:

  • Sifting whole grain to get bran.
  • I forgot what protease is... going to have to brush up on that.

I just realized that my addition of a significant amount of water is going to increase my cooking time. Do you all have any idea how I should manage that?

I have attempted 100% whole wheat bread in the past and it never went well... the only good 100% whole wheat I have baked had added gluten. The other attempts usually failed to proof well and tended to be dense. I am hoping the autolyse and the higher hydration will help make a lighter crumb, better rise, and easier to work with dough.

I will take photos with the final product. There are a lot of new things to this recipe, so, I'll be ecstatic if the loaf comes out well. 

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

If you do, you can just check the temperature of bread to see if it's done (minimum 208°F for 100% whole grain). I have not worked with whole wheat dough with hydration below 90% though I don't think the higher hydration would make a great difference in baking time. You might always lower the temperature at the end of baking time if the crust is browning too much.

Just to clarify, protease is the general name for the many unique enzymes that catalyse the breakdown of proteins into simpler forms ( i.e, peptides, amino acids etc.). It helps in achieving more extendable dough by helping to break gluten down into amino acids. However, the gluten bond cannot be damaged too aggressively or the dough would collapse.  

Are you against adding gluten to dough? I find it useful as it makes the dough easier to handle. This allows gentler handling and thus helps in preserving more gas bubbles. It might be challenging to prevent the dough from spreading if the hydration is upped without the addition of gluten.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

"Are you against adding gluten to dough?"

I am a little bit against adding gluten. Why? I like the simplicity of a dough that is just flour, water, yeast, and salt. Eventually, when my skills get better, I'd like to cook only with flour, water, salt, and levian. Also, I have seen a lot of 100% whole grain recipes without gluten, and I guess I want to have more success with non-gluten recipes before opening up to gluten as a solution. And finally... I am a wannabe homesteader, maybe one day I will grow my own wheat (or barter for it from a neighbor), something seems more traditional and more home-steady about non-gluten recipes.

""

Yes, I do. Thanks for the 208 temp, now i don't have to look it up :-). But... even with a thermometer, I worry about checking the temp too often and poking too many holes in the loaf. Should I be worried about that?

"However, the gluten bond cannot be damaged too aggressively or the dough would collapse."

Now you have me worried about my dough being a goopy mess. Whelp, if that happens I'll just mix in some KA bread flour and some more water/salt and make do.

Thanks for all the help!

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

but I can't help but consider gluten as part of the ''flour ingredient''. Gluten is a naturally occurring protein in wheat that takes up an important role in providing dough structure. It is already present in flour even if you don't supplement it with added vital wheat gluten. The gluten in whole grain bread is more likely to be damaged by the bran so it makes sense to me to compensate for the loss. 

It is true that it is more "traditional" to make whole grain bread without added gluten yet I doubt the texture of "traditional whole grain bread" is what you're after. Whole grain bread is meant to be at least slightly denser in comparison with white bread. This is not to say that you cannot make light whole grain bread with just water, flour, starter and salt but the skills required would be much higher.

Of course, this is your personal choice. It would be completely ok to exclude vital wheat gluten from the formula if that's what you prefer :) 

I guess you can have a brief idea about how long your bread needs to be baked. For my 300g flour/ >600g dough weight bread, I need approximately 40 minutes of bake time at 450°F. You can measure the temp after 35 minutes. If it marks 180°F, it needs at least 5 mintes longer. I prefer to poke a hole into the naturally opened surface of the dough (i.e. where I slash it) and use the same hole for multiple temp measurement.

If the gluten bond of your dough has collapsed already, I'm afraid there's not much you can do to save it... Adding flour or salt is ineffective in reversing the gluten degradation process. For less severe cases, retarding the dough straight may prevent further structure damage.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Thanks again for the help.

I have so much to learn. I have a feeling I will learn a lot from my next few loaves. I am not anti-gluten, I am just not ready to go there yet. My previous non-gluten attempts with 100% whole wheat were a few years ago and the bread was terrible, so, I guess I want to at least walk away from my efforts with something above average.

Your reply caused me to remember another question I had. I had heard that when switching to convection you should adjust the recipe temp down by 25 degrees F. I have always felt uneasy about that advice. Seems too simple. What do you all think? (FYI, that is why my plan is to convection bake at 335 instead of 360 like the original recipe)

"If the gluten bond of your dough has collapsed already, I'm afraid there's not much you can do to save it... Adding flour or salt is ineffective in reversing the gluten degradation process. For less severe cases, retarding the dough straight may prevent further structure damage."
Oh... I hate to throw the dough out, especially after it has developed soo much flavor overnight. Is it not savable by doubling the recipe, tripling the recipe and using an easier flour? Regardless, it is all an experiment, so, I'll do something with the dough and try to learn from my mistakes. I'll keep you posted.

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

It appears that most bakers are having successful outcomes dropping the temp by 25°F. Unfortunately I'm not one of them :) My oven functions in a weird manner that the temp actually drops instead of rises when the convection mode is used.

I would not recommend tripling the recipes  for the purpose of saving failed dough. That just means wasting more ingredients unnecessarily. You may still get edible bread by baking it in a bread pan but the texture would still be compromised.

Some experiments are needed to figure out what works for you. Good luck!

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Texas,  whatever happens, do post your results - it will be a time capsule for your future bakes, and may help others in the future.   I am with you as to VWG -  nearly all the bread i make is 100% wheat, and the only ingredients are Flour, Water, Salt, and starter, which itself is flour , water, and wild yeast.    Since I use 100% home milled flour, without sifting,  my recipe would not necessarily translate to yours, though I find 80% hydration is high, so interested to see how 100% works for you. As to preheating the oven and the pot - the one concern I have read is that if the pot is 450 F and you drop a pound or more of dough at 70 degrees, do you run a risk of thermal shock and cracking the pot.   Some say no problem,  others have reported cracking, either instantly, or over a number of bakes.   I have tried the cold oven approach with a Sassafras superstone baker - can't say the results were fantastic, but I was too chicken to try preheating.    

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

I just kneaded the dough in my electrolux assistant. At first I worried I had a sloppy mess, but after about 5 minutes of a slow knead with the roller, the gluten started coming together nicely! I am excited! I added the salt but forgot the additional 4g of instant yeast. I had to knead the dough a second time to incorporate the forgotten yeast.

Question: I worry about sprinkling the salt and yeast on top of the dough while the electrolux assistant is kneading... I worry I won't get an even distribution. Thoughts? I know I could premix them with water, but my dough is already wet enough.



texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Another question: Since the whole wheat bran supposedly cuts the gluten strands, should I be extra weary about over kneading the dough? How much is too much? I have read I can do very little kneading and let the gluten develop during a slow rise or multiple rises. What do you all recommend?

franbaker's picture
franbaker

I'm wishing you success in your endeavor! I tried a 100% whole wheat recipe (sourdough) with a really long soak once, at 80% hydration. It was a struggle for me to handle the dough, and the crumb came out denser than I'd like, but I'm very much a newbie at this.

Like you, I'm on a 100% whole wheat, no added stuff, quest, but I'm also trying to use natural leavening. Also grinding my own flour. I'm loving the flavors I get with freshly-ground wheat. However that may also make it more challenging to get a good rise. Learning is lots of fun.

I had partial success yesterday with a 100% whole wheat sourdough loaf, I think you can check the posts if you want by clicking on my name.

I pre-heat my breadtopia clay baker, turn my dough onto a piece of parchment paper, and use the paper to lift it into the baker. I don't always get such a disappointing pale crust that way, that must have been the result of something else. I'm concerned that others have had clay bakers crack doing this, but the instructions that came with mine said to preheat and then put your (presumably room-temperature) dough in.

I think that soaking the cracked wheat is a good idea; I wouldn't want to try it unsoaked. I think people usually soak those kinds of ingredients separately, sometimes in hot water, sometimes then straining the extra water out before adding them to the dough.

Looking forward to hearing how things turn out for you :-)

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Thanks for the feedback! Right before I saw your comment on my thread, I had clicked submit to a comment on your thread. :-)

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

I just started proofing the dough and I think I screwed it up. Any suggestions would be great. The dough lacked enough elasticity. I think I didn't knead the dough enough, or didn't do something else to ensure better elasticity. 

My plan right now is to bake them and hope the dough doesn't spread too much. I guess I could put them back into bulk ferment and do some folding. Thoughts?

franbaker's picture
franbaker

and bake it -- it will probably be edible (based on my own prior experience), although not great, and is better than wasting all the ingredients without trying to bake it.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Elsie, I think the protease ruined my dough. As time went on, the dough lost more and more elasticity. By the time I was ready to empty the proof baskets onto my pizza peel, the dough was almost soup. Ughhh...

Guess I am going to start over. First I am going to look for a proven recipe that is similar to the one I came up with and go from there.

Thanks for everyone's help.

franbaker's picture
franbaker

I tried to make cinnamon-raisin bread with dried cherries recently. The dried cherries burst into the dough, making it extra sweet.

It. Did. Not. Rise. At. All. Not. Even. One. Tiny. Bit.

I baked it as a flatbread. The texture came out similar to lebkuchen. It tasted fine. Was great with fresh-ground peanut butter and peach preserves. Made excellent bread pudding.

It's not a failure unless you want to see it that way!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

There is a book that I highly recommend for new 100% whole wheat bread bakers. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004HFRJS0/ref=dbs_a_def_awm_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

There is a chapter in the book called, “A Loaf for Learning”. You can see it in the sample. If you follow her instructions you have a great chance for success the first bake. It worked for me.

Dan

franbaker's picture
franbaker

if I wasn't so committed to learning sourdough. I found an sourdough adaptation to the Laurel's Kitchen Loaf for Learning at https://www.sourdoughhome.com/index.php?content=100percentwholewheat 

Not sure what I did wrong, but this is the loaf that came out seeming more like baked starter than anything else. (Actually, I think I must have really overfermented. I think fermentation moves fast in my kitchen for some reason, but I'm afraid to trust that instinct.) Also, for the long term, I don't want to be using all that honey and oil. I really want to do simply flour-water-salt-sourdough with 100% whole grain and do it well... I've had some success (although far from perfect) with a white flour oatmeal loaf, which I also adapted to 50% sprouted WW, and with a 50% WW/50% bread flour loaf. I'm actually pretty happy with the crumb of my last 100% WW sourdough loaf, just want to improve the crust, then maybe find a recipe that will give me a bit taller loaf and start to contemplate adding some seeds, sprouted grains, etc. My thing is developing good judgement about dough development and fermentation. If I could find a teacher or take a class it would help a lot, I think. Knowing how the dough is supposed to feel, how the windowpane test should look (even remembering to do it, duh!), etc. People here have been great about trying to help me figure it out. I'll get there, I don't mind keeping on trying!

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Thanks you all. I couldn't find a recipe on the internet I liked, so I am using the same one, but I am going to reduce the autolyse time this go round.

I already started the sponge. And will try again tomorrow.

I would like to do some research before tomorrow morning related to ensuring I am kneading properly, fermenting properly, and proofing properly.

Do you all have any links? And with 100% hydration dough, should you knead more or knead less? I noticed in the high hydration san franscisco baking institute video, the dude mentions checking the dough for proper elasticity prior to dividing, if the dough had not been elastic enough, would he have waiting longer? folded the dough and done another rise?

High Hydration Handling video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEG1BjWroT0&feature=youtu.be

Also, I was watching a video where I guy on an island made some sourdough and he never deflated his dough between rises, he always gently folded and never did anything that might pop air bubbles. That process was foreign to me. Thoughts?

Champlain Island Sourdough Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHiQ5X3NKEI

franbaker's picture
franbaker

it seems to me that the thinking on air bubbles in dough has changed since the 1970s, when I first tried to make 100% whole grain breads.

The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book still has you doing two rises before proofing, and thoroughly deflating your dough, but I'm not seeing that anywhere else.

The bread science-y books I've been reading say that the yeast's don't make the bubbles with their CO2, the CO2 they make dissolves in the dough and migrates to tiny air bubbles that are already present in the dough because of mixing and kneading. The philosophy with long fermentations, pre-ferments, soaks, autolyzes, etc., is to handle the dough gently and not disturb the gluten structure (and by implication the bubbles the gluten structure is holding in place), once you've gone past the initial mixing and kneading that generates bubble in the first place. Long times and less (or no) kneading seem to go together.

Hope that's helpful.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

makes some beautiful bread.  go to his website and have a look at his recipes and methods. they really do work.  you need to know your flour and may need to adjust hydration and fermentation times.  Trevor’s ebook is a goldmine of info.  one thing is,  you need to build strength somehow... so you  don’t get pancakes..

keep trying.

Leslie

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

"you need to know your flour"

That is a maddening concept. That would mean I might have to relearn each recipe anytime I use a new flour. 

Is it possible to learn to adjust for flour changes on the fly using the look, feel, and behavior of the flour as a guide?

franbaker's picture
franbaker

I've got a few kinds of wheat berries in my cupboard already, but I like the flavor of the Red Fife, but I'm going to stick with it for bread baking until I feel like I at least halfway know what I'm doing. Then I can try using my spelt, or hard white wheat, or einkorn or emmer. At least I can use my White Sonora for blueberry muffins, lol. I feel like I'll just confuse myself, trying all different things at this point in time. I vote for choosing a flour you know you like and sticking with it until you've got a couple of successful bakes under your belt.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

you manage a successful bake.  As you become more experienced then sure, feel of the dough will guide you as to whether to add more or less water.  how elastic the dough is, and importantly how much liquid your flour can cope with.  I have to cut back a bit as my flours cannot handle very high hydration, but hopefully I am learning a way to deal with that too.  Stick with it, stay with the same recipe and flours until you succeed.  Many here will help and before too long you will be making all sorts quite happily.

Leslie

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

At the risk of being redundant, please consider this. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/56767/help-me-learn-my-first-high-hydration-whole-wheat-experiment#comment-412124

I am under the impression that you are new to 100% whole wheat bread. If this is not the case, much of what I wrote below may not apply. If so, sorry.

You are trying to bake a bread type that is extremely challenging for experienced bakers. Find a well documented set of instructions with a known good formula. One that has a reputation of success. Even if the formula isn’t exactly what you are looking for. Example, it may call for honey, but you don’t want to use anything other than flour, water, salt, and starter. Stick to it without deviation. Trust the author. Keep baking that single bread until you get it right. 

At this point in your learning process stay clear of formulas you don’t trust. Changing the hydration so drastically is not something you want to be doing at this stage of learning. Find a good plan and stick to it.

You mentioned,  "Bread Science" by Emily Buehler. She is very accomplished. I am not familiar with the formula but this lady knows her stuff. Don’t add or subtract anything from her instructions. Trust her. Once you get it down, you can start to make changes to customize the bread for you.

Trust me, I can empathize with your troubles :(  My baking success is due to tenacity. But I learned long ago, to simplify matters in order to achieve initial success. Once to learn the basics you will be ready to fly. Learning to walk is much easier than trying to run. 

You have at least 2 outstanding things going for you.

1- Persistence, a characteristic all bakes must possess

2- An Ankarsrum (Electrolux Assistant), a great mixer for any home baker :-))

Dan

I really look forward to reading your future post describing your well deserved success!

franbaker's picture
franbaker

you've got an Ankarsrum?!!! And you're envying my cutting board? Lol! ;-)

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

An Electrolux Assistant is an earlier version of the Ankarsrum. They are very much the same.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Trevor is a great friend to this site. He has given help on many occassions. If the Champlain SD is of interest to you, check this out. -Beware- lots of reading ;-))

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/55230/anyone-interested-champlain-sd-bake

Dan

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

Could you please answer a few questions for me? I'm not sure how you've twisted the recipe after all the conversations.

1. Total hydration

2. Autolyse time

3. Bulk time

4. Proof time

One thing I'd like to comment on is the use of mixer for kneading the dough. Since the bran can cut the dough while kneading, having an intensive kneading with an electric mixer is really not a good idea. Autolyse already does the job of degrading the gluten for more extendable dough, all you need is to build some tension. In fact, for high hydration whole grain dough, two rounds of stretch and folds with 30 minutes apart are all the dough need for improving dough strength. 

Don't worry about the salt not evenly distributed, it is :)

Once the dough is showing signs of breaking down, you want to touch it as little as possible. Don't attempt to work it more because it would only make things worse. Trust me, I have plenty of experience in this area... Bake immediately (in a pan for some support if you like) after a short proof. Wait any longer and  you get pancake batter. Resist the urge to do more foldings, add more flour, proof it for longer etc. They won't work.

Cut the autolyse time. 15-30 minutes is more than enough for extensibility. Soak the bran separately or better yet, use it for bran leaven. Shorten the bulk time (thus reducing the time for protease to work) by upping the amount the yeast as the final solution (not ideal). 

Don't give up. Good luck!

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Answering your questions...

Failed Attempt:

  • Total Hydration: 104% (the 4% was a miscalculation)
  • Autolyse Time: 6 hours at 78 degrees F, 8 hours at 38 degrees F.
  • Bulk Time: Until doubled twice, I did a not so gentle fold between the two rises. Total time was about 5 hours. My bulk dough was cold from the fridge and it took a while to warm up and for the rise to get up to speed on the first rise.
  • Proof Time: The proof dough never looked right and felt wrong when poked, I quit not too long after it doubled, which took about 40 minutes at 80 degrees F.

Tomorrow's attempt:

  • Total Hydration: 100%
  • Autolyse Time: 30 minutes
  • Bulk time: Still need to research how I want to do this... I am thinking I'll use Trevor's method. And wait until the dough has nice elasticity before shaping and proofing.
  • Proof Time: However long it takes for the dough to feel bouncy and airy... To be honest... I'll just guess and hope I'm right :-)
  • Other Changes: All manual dough manipulation and very gentle handling. This seems to jive with other positive experiences I have had with doughs.

"Once the dough is showing signs of breaking down, you want to touch it as little as possible. Don't attempt to work it more because it would only make things worse. Trust me, I have plenty of experience in this area..."

Hahahahaha. I am so happy you made that comment. I too gained some experience in this area today :-). I tried to save my soupy dough by throwing it back into the Electrolux Assistant. Bad idea. My soup got soupier. I can't think of a better way to learn NOT TO DO THAT. When you are feeling peeved about your failed dough, there is a bit of relief gained by angrily kneading your dough into oblivion.

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

It is likely the major reason your dough broke down. An over-hydrated dough spikes enzymatic activities more than anything. Even 100% can be too much depending on the property of your flour. Reserve part of the water during the autolyse and only add it back if the dough can take it, after the autolyse with the salt and yeast. It helps to strengthen the dough as well.

Moreover, don't let the dough double for the bulk. 30-50% increase in volume is adequate. Moisten your hand with water and press the dough gently. When it feels slightly puffy and airy, it's ready. It should not feel overly sticky.

If you see large bubbles sneaking from the side of the dough during the proof, it's probably overproofed already.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Oh... Nice! I'd never heard that doubling is probably too much. I'll have to double check your advice, but, if you are correct (and my gut feeling is that you are), then, that would be a major correction to my bread making process. Thanks!

"Reserve part of the water during the autolyse and only add it back if the dough can take it"
How do I know if the 'dough can take it'. And... if you could answer fast, I am right now at that part of the process! :-)

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

It's hard to describe but if the dough feels sloppy, it's over-hydrated. If it can't hold a hemisphere shape after mixing, you've gone too far.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

I mixed it up to 100% hydration. I'll know in the next 30 minutes whether or not the dough has a chance.

I am happy that I am trying 100% again, otherwise, I'd always have this voice in the back of my head saying... "Maybe I could have gotten it to work".

I already made a mistake, I let my overnight sponge overproof (the sponge contained approximately half the flour and 40% of the water and pinch of yeast). Hopefully, the negative side effects of that mistake will be minimal.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Are you at a stage where you can add a little four in the dough? I saved one yesterday doing that and it baked up nicely today.

The 50% whole wheat bread was baked according to http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/56742/community-bake-maurizios-fiftyfifty-whole-wheat-sourdough-everyone-welcome#comment-412190

I used Soft White Wheat, which had a lower protein % and didn’t soak up as much water. It was a sloppy mess, but after adding a little flour back in  it rose to the occasion :)

Dan

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Hey Dan,

With this new round of testing, I am becoming thoroughly convinced that my error yesterday was most likely letting the bulk fermentation over rise, it lost all of its structure.

Right now, the 100% hydration dough seems to be doing well. I am handling it much more gently and doing it using Trevor's approach in his Champlain sourdough recipe.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

In order to speed up my experiment results, I started 2 more doughs, resulting in 3 doughs being worked in parallel. In order to be able to bake all 3 doughs today, I eliminated the sponge from the 2 new doughs. I think this should be ok, because my intention is to focus on the difference in behavior of the dough at different hydration levels.

Below is a short summary of each dough:

1st Attempt:

  • 100% hydration (374 g whole wheat, 19 g cracked wheat, 393 g water)
  • 12 hour Sponge (using about 40% of total dough)
  • 6 hour autolyse
  • Failed, mostly due to letting the bulk ferment over rise destroying the structure of the gluten. Other possibilities was me overworking the dough and too long of an autolyse. After seeing my attempts today, I think this dough was probably fine up until the point I let the bulk ferment get too fluffy.

2nd Attempt:

  • 95% hydration (374 g whole wheat, 19 g cracked wheat, 374 g water)
  • 12 hour Sponge (using about 40% of total dough)
  • 30 minute autolyse (using remaining 60% of dough)
  • This was my first loaf to ever attempt dumping a banneton into a deep clay pot. Good news... it is in there and the 95% hydration dough easily released from the unlined banneton. Bad news... the dough had a hard landing and deflated a bit. That clay bot is HOT, 6 inches deep, and bit small to safely lower hands holding dough into.
  • My scoring was a bust too.
  • Also, I have the high hydration dough shaping skills of an orangutan. Lucky for me, I have two more loaves to practice on today.
  • Good news! The bread is baking and will be edible! I'm so excited, I just can't hide it...

3rd Attempt:

  • 85% hydration (374 g whole wheat, 19 g cracked wheat, 336 g water)
  • No sponge
  • 30 minute autolyse (using all of the dough)

4th Attempt:

  • 89% hydration (374 g whole wheat, No cracked wheat, 336 g water)
  • No sponge
  • 30 minute autolyse (using all of the dough)
  • I was surprised how much the cracked wheat was absorbing water, this dough is pretty slack.

Note: If you have been following along, you might be thinking... why did the hydration percentages change all of a sudden. Well, I was not taking into account the 19 grams of cracked wheat when doing the calculations because the original recipe didn't take the 19 grams into account, but, I believe it should have after seeing how much water the cracked wheat sucked up.

Additional Thought: The more I think about it, the more I feel that my original 6 hour autolyse was not a problem. I'll have to do some future test batches to confirm. The reason I believe this is that I have made 48 hour pizza doughs that would have been mush had the protease made a big impact on the dough. And... I keep seeing recipes for excellent breads that are at room temperature doing their thing for more than 12 hours total. And... looking back at previous failed doughs over the past 5 years, I think over rising the bulk ferment might have been a common theme. It would also explain why I always feared scoring my dough, because my doughs are almost always unstable at the end of their proofing, I think I am a serial over-proofer and I didn't even know it.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I have the Bread Science book. What recipe are you baking? I have some ideas but I really need to see the instructions you are following.

Danny

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

"What recipe are you baking?"

Chapter 8: Recipe: Whole wheat bread made with a sponge, p. 211 in my version

"I have some ideas but I really need to see the instructions you are following."

'following'... I'd use that term loosely ;-), I changed 75% hydration to 85-95% hydration, changed wheat bran to cracked wheat, and I am not paying much attention to dough/water temperatures.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

The sponge uses 50% of the total flour. It is imperative to use cold  (50-55F) water. Since the sponge ferments for 12-15 hr it needs to be cold originally so that the flour is not too degraded when it comes time to incorporate into the final dough. 50% sponge is a large portion of the total dough.

Also use cool (60-65F) water for the final mix. The purpose for the cold/cool water is to slow the enzymatic action down in order to prevent degredation of your dough.

This lady knows her business, I personally would stick to her instructions until I succeeded. Then I’d venture out.

Dan

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

Dan,

I am picking up the tracks you have been laying down.

I could follow the recipe 'to the T', but that isn't my style. I like baking to be less science and more feel. I do my best to understand the science, but then, try to use my understanding to devine a way to make better bread in a more rudimentary fashion. It took me a while to bite the bullet and start weighing my ingredients. I dislike measuring the final temp of dough with a thermometer. I enjoy tweaking recipes and then working backwards to figure out how I messed things up. 

The idea of making the recipe exactly and changing 1 thing at a time is too structured for me. I like to gamble!

I still very much appreciate your feedback, ideas, and input.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

I baked the loaves one after another.

Romertopf Issues:

The first two loaves were baked in my Romertopf Clay Pot. This was the first time for me to use the pot and it turns out, it is too small for a 800g loaf. Since the opening on the pot was almost the exact same diameter of my boules, I basically had to drop the boules about 5 inches into the bottom of the pot. I decided the Romertopf is a bad idea and switch to cooking the 3rd boule on my pizza stone, which I have much more experience doing.

Proofing Issues:

The first two loaves are way underproofed, I need to get a better feel for it. I think the 3rd loaf could have proofed a bit longer too. I think in my desire to ensure I didn't overproof, I underproofed.

Scoring Issues:

I am terrible at scoring. A few days ago I jerry-rigged my first lame. I stole a razor blade from the wife and took the metal insert from a filing folder out and ground it down to the right width to fit inside of the blade. My scoring got better on each loaf, by the 3rd loaf, my scoring was respectable, but nowhere near bakery quality.

Pizza Stone didn't properly cook bottom of 3rd loaf:

I placed two bread pans stuffed with steaming hot towels under the pizza stone. I think the steam kept the pizza stone too cool and thus the bottom side of the loaf was not as dark as the rest of the loaf, although, it was still adequately cooked.

Photos:

I am still waiting on all of the loaves to cool, I will post crumb photos as soon as I get them.

Loaf 1:

No photos, soupy dough went into trash.

Loaf 2:

Not well risen. Tight crumb due to clay pot issues and underproofing. Boring flavor. Crumb wasn't as dry as I would have liked. Tastes good toasted. I wouldn't want to eat this all morning.

Loaf 3:

Underproofed and slight collapse when transferring to clay pot. Boring flavor. Crumb wasn't as dry as I would have liked. Tastes good toasted. I wouldn't want to eat this all morning.

Loaf 4:

Moderately underproofed, I am not a good judge of that yet. The flavor on this loaf was much much better than 2 & 3. I think that is becuase the cloche (clay pot) blocked to much browning of the crust on loaves 2 & 3, but this loaf was cooked on the pizza stone allowing it to brown more. I will need to learn how to modify cooking times to better work with inclosed cooking vessels like dutch ovens and cloches. The substantial flavor improvement from 2&3 to 4 makes me very interested in finding out what the flavor would be with a properly proofed loaf and a higher hydration recipe.

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

All of them look rather dense, especially on the bottom part. Other than considering the under-proofed/fermented factor, have you think about whether your sponge was at peak when you use it? It might be over-fermented or under-fermented if you were not judging by its look but following the clock. Using sponge not at its peak can slow the bulk drastically, harm the crumb structure and leads to the lack of flavour. Moreover, loaf 2 seems over-hydrated to me as it isn't really holding its shape. 

You mentioned about the 48 hour pizza dough above. Is it whole wheat as well? Whole grains are much more prone to dough degradation by enzymatic activities as they contain way more enzymes than white flour to start with. Also, low temperature (i.e retarding) slows enzymatic activities significantly so retarded dough can be stored for days.

I can't know for certain what was the cause for the gluten degradation of your dough, as only you can do this. Some likely culprits are over-hydration, over-proofing/ fermentation, extensive autolyse and intensive kneading. Some brands of flour cause the problem more often. Generally speaking, whole grain flour (with increasing risk from store-bought to freshly milled to sprouted) is more prone to this in comparison with white flour.

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

I love your feedback Elsie, thanks!

"All of them look rather dense, especially on the bottom part."
I agree. Does the bottom being more dense than the top mean anything?

"Other than considering the under-proofed/fermented factor, have you think about whether your sponge was at peak when you use it?"
I only used a sponge on loaf #3, #4 and #5 were thrown together this morning and I had to skip the sponge so that I could bake the bread the same day. But, yes, the sponge on #3 was mildly over-proofed.

"You mentioned about the 48 hour pizza dough above. Is it whole wheat as well?"
Yep, you are right, my pizza doughs are only part whole wheat. I forgot about that.

"Also, low temperature (i.e retarding) slows enzymatic activities significantly so retarded dough can be stored for days."
For my bread tomorrow, I am doing an autolyse and bulk ferment overnight in the fridge, my sponge is happening on the counter top. I plan to bulk ferment everything by feel and look.

I am just not ready to give up yet... I keep looking at that photo I took of the Electrolux Assistant kneading the first batch of dough and I think... that looks like pretty good gluten development, I think I can make this work. And... I learned a lot over the past 2 days, I am feeling optimistic. If tomorrow is a bust, I think I will be willing to walk away from my obsession with 100% hydration with regards to this particular recipe.

And, honestly, when you pointed out that I may have over fermented my first batch of dough by letting it rise too much... I definitely did. During that batch I was staring at the bulk ferment rise and was thinking... ooohhhh look at all the pretty bubbles, more bubbles the better as long as it doesn't collapse. I totally overdid it. That particular bulk ferment rose 2.5 times the original volume and felt like a mushy puddle when it was done.

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

just means it's under-proofed :) Moreover, It can be caused by the weight of the dough itself hindering the bottom from rising in the oven. However, this shouldn't be a problem if you are using a benetton (as the dough was inverted before being loaded into the oven).

More on dough retardation. Though it's true that white dough can be kept in the fridge for days, this practice is less suited to whole grain dough, in my experience at least. Dough degradation is ignorable for retard that is less than 12 hours. Nevertheless, I have had a number of dough collapsing after a 20 hour retard.

Hope this helps.

 

texasbakerdad's picture
texasbakerdad

My understanding is that I can do the following things to improve the crumb hole size:

  • Let the dough develop for longer.
  • Increase the dough hydration
  • Properly work the dough

I am going to do a few loaves tomorrow with modifications in those directions.

Loaf 5: Overnight retarded bulk ferment. 100% hydration, all worked by hand.

Loaf 6: Retry 100% hydration with Electrolux Assistant, sponge, and overnight retarded autolyse. But, this time, don't over rise the bulk ferment.

All Loaves: Ditch the cloche and use pizza stone, I don't have the cloche figured out yet, especially for this recipe. Do a better job proofing.

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

It is not the only way for more open crumb, nor is it a success-guaranteed method. Dough handling and time control play far more important roles in this. One may end up with denser crumb that is unpleasantly gummy if the dough is over-hydrated and poorly managed.

Don't be too aggressive as consecutive failures can be discouraging. This is one of the qualities I have yet to learn too :) Good luck on your experiments.