The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Whole Wheat Bread from P.Reinhart's BBA

CountryBoy's picture

Whole Wheat Bread from P.Reinhart's BBA

I have tried the following recipe 4 times and am still not able to get the proper amount of time of kneading in order to build up the gluten.  After 5 mins. the dough gets very sticky even though I lightly powder my hands with flour and sometimes give it a rest.

It calls for kneading 10-15 minutes but the dough breaks down rather than comes together with gluten build up.

The recipe is as follows however I have doubled it for my own use>

Whole Wheat Bread..P. Reinhart, BBA, p.270


Single.......................... ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Doubled 
1 Cup Course whole-wheat flour...... 2 Cups 
¾ Cup Water, at room temp.....,,,,,,, 1 ½  Cups
Poolish of a thick paste consistency.

Single ........................,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Doubled 
1 ½ Cup High Protein whole-wheat flour 3 Cups 
¼  tsp Instant Yeast.........,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.. ½  tsp 
¾  Cup Water, at room temp....,,,,,,,. 1 ½  Cups
Single .....................,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,... Doubled 
2 Cups High Protein whole-wheat flour..4 Cups 
1 1/3 tsps Salt...........,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,. 2 2/3 tsps 
1 tsp Instant Yeast.......,...,,,,,,,,,,,,,,. 2 tsps 
2 Ts Honey................... ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,4 Ts
1 T Vegetable oil-optional..,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 2 Ts 
1 Large Egg, slightly beaten (optional)..,2 
1-Day before making the bread, make the Soaker and the Poolish.

pumpkinpapa's picture

Rather than coating your hands with flour, do the opposite and keep your hands wet. I find wet hands work best for my whole wheat flour.

nbicomputers's picture

reg flour takes 5 minutes for it to fully absorb. whole wheat with its corse grain take longer.

when first mixed a dough will start stif and as you mix it will get slack.

This is where inexpirenced bakers think they made a mistake and start to add mor flour only to find out later that the tough beceoms to tough.

as you continue to mix the glutin will develop and the dough will beg smoth and dry

this mix calls for a hi gluten whole wheat flour what is the proten percentage of your flour ?

KA has a white whole wheat flour that is a proteen percent of 13% that is close to a normal hi gluten which is 14.2%

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

CountryBoy's picture

Thanks for the feed back folks:

  1. Yes Norm I am already using "KA  white whole wheat flour ". Do you suggest that I let it autolyse or rest for 10-15 mins. before kneading.  Since you are the professional you would certainly know.
  2. Yes pumpkinpapa  I have tried putting hands in water to have water as a lubricant but that does not seem to work.  After a while of that the glutten brakes down even more so; more quickly.

I guess I am puzzled that I am the only one to have this problem.  My final product comes out ok, however, the crumb on the bread is too soft or weak.

mcs's picture


First off, I haven't tried the recipe which you are using. Secondly, as Norm says, whole wheat does take longer to absorb water (and knead), but it reaches a point during the kneading cycle where it 'peaks out' as far as gluten development goes (and strength). I don't know how you're kneading it (by hand or machine), but when I tell people 10 minutes of kneading, I'm shooting for an average. In a machine it might take 6 minutes, and for me by hand it would also take 6 minutes from mix to finish. If you go too long on a machine it will get ripped to shreds, but if you go too long by hand, it may get drier instead (depending on your technique). If you're not set on that recipe, I would suggest trying the 50/50 recipe ('whole wheat') I have on my website (it should get you very close), getting the feel for the consistency of the dough, then going back to your recipe after a few batches. If you hand knead I wouldn't do it over 10 minutes.


nbicomputers's picture

i just did the math there is 12 oz of water in this mix and 18 oz of flour this is a vwry wet dough

over 50%  water a  stand mixer would be best to mix something this soft but yes

lgive the flour a chance to absorbe for 10 minutes before you start knedding

and see what happens  i started mixing by hand but as i learnd it was mixers all the way

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

TRK's picture

I can't get a protein percentage for KA's white whole wheat flour off the web, but I have had my doubts in the past about it's gluten-forming ability.  I have had problems similar to what you are talking about when using high percentages of white whole wheat flour.  You might try the recipe with their traditional WW and see if you have the same problem.

nbicomputers's picture

see my post above

KA states that it is 13 percent but it is the amount  AND QUALITY of the proten that counts

clear flour has a higher proten count than hi gluten flous but the quality of the proten is not as good

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

CountryBoy's picture

I certainly appreciate people's responses on this.  Henceforth I will

  1. Not use white whole wheat flour
  2. And definitely wait 10 minutes before I proceed with my kneading by hand.

However, I would like to know what White whole wheat flour is for if I can not use it for WW bread.  Since I am a novice I do not mean that to be rude but after One year of bread baking I remain baffled by the amount of info that is not included in these expensive books we buy. 

I have the 6 major books normally mentioned here and no where does it say not to use White whole wheat flour for WW bread.  Yes, I know you folks are probably right but one would assume the mention of the fact in at least one of the Big 6 books I have.  I guess I am frustrated because I really do Re-Read these books often.  (The 6 includes: the  1 Hamelman, 2 Reinharts, 1 RL Beranbaum, 1 B. Clayton, and 1 D. Leader.)

With thanks as always.

TRK's picture

I would just use it for part of the flour.  The bread I make weekly right now is 1/2 KA unbleached AP flour, 1/4 white whole wheat, and 1/4 traditional whole wheat.  If I were using 100% whole wheat, I would probably try it with 50% white whole wheat, and play with it from there. 


I think white whole wheat flour is a fairly new product-I don't know if the strain is recently developed, or if it is being marketed more as a result of the post-Atkins Whole Grains craze.  When you introduce a new product like that into your baking, you just have to expect to spend some time fine-tuning.



CountryBoy's picture

Ok and thanks for the is all news to me.....


breadawe's picture

If you want more Gluten just add it......2 percent should do the trick.  it is easy to find at your local health food store. I grind my own whole wheat grain and adding gluten is just part of the recipe...good luck

KipperCat's picture

When using water to knead slack WW doughs, I keep a bowl of water handy, and constantly dip my hands in.  I can't tell you how many kneading strokes between re-wetting my hands.  It's going to vary with different doughs.

Doughs like this are easier to handle with a fold, rest, fold, rest, fold, etc. approach. 

CountryBoy's picture

The KA recipe on the back of the KA White WW flour does not mention the need for mixing with either gluten or with other types of flour.

ehanner's picture

This will no doubt annoy some but I have not been impressed with King Arthur's recipes. Much of what they print and suggest is based on the business model of selling more additives or gizmo's. I know some folks swear by the flour and it has merit I'm sure. A number of the recipes I have tried are less than wonderful and require flavorings to enhance the product to taste like the origional. Sourdough, rye flavors and the ww apple pie recipe from last Nov are a few examples. The pie was horrible.

If I lived nearby I suppose I would buy more form KA but since I don't, I find it best to use locally available supplies for 1/2 the cost and improve my skills here.


CountryBoy's picture


With WW bread, KA says the secret is in the kneading.

 "Definitely do not wet your hands, but rather wait 5-10 minutes and then knead the dough without opening up the center. Then it will come together after 5-10 minutes."

I have never seen this technique mentioned in any of the bread books or on this forum. Does anyone know about kneading the ball of dough gently without opening up the center?

nbicomputers's picture

kind of hard to explane but ill try

you would take your hands and put them infront of you as if you are goiing to clap.  place your left hand flat pushing aganst the left side of the dough.  you do not move your left hand rether it is like a wall that the dough rests on.  with your right hand you place it about 2:00 o-clock on ths dough and fold the dough in your right hand to your left hand.  if you do this right you will make a ball of dough that will get tighter and tighter and form a realy tight ball without ever opening up the center but will delevop the gluten.

i would take two pieces of dough one in each hand and place them nextto each other and rub them toghter  and kned two pieces at a time. i would end up withtwo tight solid balls of dough.

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

Rosalie's picture

This may be one of the techniques Mark demonstrates in his shaping video.


Susan's picture
CountryBoy's picture

Susan thanks I went to the site and viewed the video.

I wonder if he would use the same kneading for WW bread or if he would use Norman's technique.

CountryBoy's picture


  1.  Thank you; I believe the technique you describe is very similar to the one Hamelman describes in his book although I find it very difficult to picture in my mind.
  2. Do you let the WW dough rest for 10 min prior to kneading.......then knead for 5 mins.......then knead again?  Do you follow that kind of sequence?

Does anyone know where the video is located that was suggested?

My thanks...


nbicomputers's picture

it is basic tech for kneading and rounding as a pro we had to produce quite a lot so wo could not just make one at a time we have to make two 

blame thouse old german bakers god forbid if you did not have a piece of dough in both handes.  I would be makimng a floaf with my right hand and i wiuld get yeld at...

German"what are you doing"
me "im making the rye"...
German "WITH YOUR LEFT HAND???!!!"  
me" Nothing" 

your are contining to make a ball by taking a small amount of dough and folding in into the center without ever opening the center up.

to answer #2
WW it is all ways a good idea to give the WW some time to absorb the water .  it takes some extra time due to the couse grain  your right on track a short rest to give the flour absorb time then knead when another short rest and knead again for a very short time to redistribut the moisture. ( if you spill some water in the kitchen, it does not help if the sponge is in the bathroom) 

when making some quick breads like corn muffins we would add the corn, and about half the water alow about 20 minutes for the corn to absorb add the rest of the water and wite another 20 mi nutes befor we would bake it.

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

CountryBoy's picture

I appreciate your guidance.

From what I do, the regular white bread is so totally different in kneading than when doing whole wheat flour kneading. That is what is throwing me for a loop.

When you say:

"contining to make a ball by taking a small amount of dough and folding in into the center without ever opening the center up."

It is not the way I normally do my white bread. I guess I am still intellectually challenged by the concept of .."folding into the center without ever opening the center up."...I know to most people what you say is obvious but to my limited intelligence it is contradictory.....

And yes I know you are right but I obviously have much to learn.

nbicomputers's picture

i will make something over the weekend. Grab a rope,  tie up my son and force him to hold the cam and film it so i can post it.  it is a very gentle kneading process not like banging the dough on the counter and fold.  just a constant roling motition where the outside edge of the sloly works its self into the center like a whrllpool. but the center never opens up

i know i can do it but i cant tell you how tondo it i know that sounds strange but i just don't have the words.

the guy that taught me did not have the words eather he just hit me if i did it wrong

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

CountryBoy's picture

It is kind of you to offer a video but my computer is so slow, I probably won't be able to view it although I will try. 

Just for the record Norm when you say

"it is basic tech for kneading and rounding"

I am sure you are right, however, it is definitely not the " basic tech for kneading" outlined in both the P. Reinhart books nor the RL Beranbaum book.  So, when you and King Arthur suggest it, I am sure you are right.  The woman on the phone at KA says that it is difficult to explain and just has to be seen in order to do it.

Question: The sequence for kneading of the WW dough; does it go something like this?:

  1. Mix the dough and then wait 10 mins before kneading
  2. Knead
  3. Wait 10 min.
  4. Knead
  5. Wait 10 minutes
  6. Knead
  7. Then put in a bowl for the primary fermentation of 90 mins. to 2 hours?
  8. Then put on table and divide?
  9. Then put in my loaf pans for 90 mins.?

I think part of my problem is that I have never ever seen anyone make bread.  All I know is learned by books and trial and error.

Thanks again for your patience. 


nbicomputers's picture

sorry if i missed this

yes thats seems about right  but remember that the rest times vary so check the dough to see if it needs more or less rest between kneads you mak be able to eleminate the last rest.

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

CountryBoy's picture

Many thanks Norman.

country boy 



CountryBoy's picture

Well I just made this recipe for the fifth time and incorporated everyone's suggestions towards developing gluten in the dough.  However, I must confess it did not work out.  I guess I need to give up on it.

If anyone else has made this recipe I would love to know the secret to it; because I certainly have not discovered it.  The dough just remains limpid and slack......




dmsnyder's picture

Hi, CountryBoy. 

Sorry to chime in late, but I have made this bread a few time with good success. I think your main problem is the one Norm identified: too wet a dough. Typical of bread recipes that give you choices of ingredients, Reinhart just gives a general notion of adjustments you have to make. 

How much water should be used depends on what kind of whole wheat flour you use and what grain you use in your soaker. Flours and grains that absorb more water will result in a dryer dough (even though the result when baked may seem moister!). I have not used white whole wheat flour, but I bet it absorbs less water than traditional whole wheat. Using whole wheat in the soaker is also going to absorb less water than whole wheat berries, cracked wheat, pumpernickel flour, etc.

The other suggestions are good, but you might also think about adjusting the water added to make the final dough according to the type of flour and what's in your soaker. 

I hope this makes sense.