The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New to Extracted Whole Grain Baking - What went wrong...?

Gatorengineer64's picture

New to Extracted Whole Grain Baking - What went wrong...?

A while back I bought a used Nutrimill but due to health and other issues, it sat almost a year before unboxing.  I have read extensively that whole grain bread was just different and better.  I decided to try my first loaf, but unfortunately had difficulting in finding wheat berries in the Allentown PA area.  I ended up buying a couple of pounds of Red Winter Wheat from Whole Foods, it was pretty much the end of the dispenser in their bulks section.  No further description is available as to what I bought...... dont know if it was Red Fife or something else or how old it was.  My local health food stores dont sell wheat berries.

As my family generally likes white bread, I also bought 40 and 60 mesh screens from Amazon.  I ground my wheat and sifted it.  I bake with Metric measures, and followed a King arthur recipe for Whole wheat even through I used the flour from the 60 screen  My mill was set such that I got perhaps 15% retained on the top screen, Darker color and coarse, and perhaps 30 percent on 40 screen and the balance through the 60.

I add all of the ingredients to my kitchenaid and mix till just combined then let set for 10 minutes to hydrate and then mix for 10.  The dough didnt rise well and I ended up adding more yeast as a slurry to save it), and it was on the drier side as well.  IT rose and I baked it, and ended up with an acceptable loaf but with a cake like texture......

So I know I am short on details, and dont know what the wheat was, but any ideas in general what I should do to improve the bake on the next loaf?

Justanoldguy's picture

I think the first thing that will help is finding a source for bulk wheat. There are a number of online sources including Amazon, Breadtopia, even Walmart. Local stores that serve certain religious groups are also a possibility, for example Mormons, Seven Day Adventists, Mennonites and the Amish. You mention whole grain baking but you extracted the bran and germ by sifting the flour. Those elements are major sources of the nutrition and flavor you're seeking through home milling. Working with freshly milled flour is very different from baking with commercial products and there is a learning curve. One of the easiest ways to travel that curve is to use "training wheels" by substituting freshly milled flour for a portion of the commercial flour in a recipe you've baked before. That also gives your family a chance fall in love with the flavor that home milled wheat provides. Good Luck!   

clazar123's picture

It is difficult to provide specific suggestions without knowing the recipe. King Arthur has numerous WW bread recipes. Can you provide a link?

You are off to a good start with WW. In general, any WW flour needs a goodly amount of liquid but, maybe more importantly, the time to absorb the water. Fresh ground WW can need even more liquid and time. One of the reasons that WW sandwich bread crumbles is that the bran was not given enough time to absorb the liquid and soften before being bakes. As a result, it continued to absorb moisture from the crumb after the bake. The crumb then becomes brittle and, voila, your sandwich is crumbled into your lap.

The other VERY important characteristic about WW is that it MUST be kneaded to windowpane. Enter that in the search box and look for pics. It is possible but is much easier to do in a stand mixer or with stretch and folds. That is what makes the crumb soft and flexible.

HERE is a link for a recipe I make that checks all the boxes-long soaks,long fermentation for flavor,soft loaf. It can be made with starter or instant dry yeast. The hardest part of making this recipe is that if the overnight soaker/biga is particularly clay-like, it can be hard to incorporate into the rest of the dough. Add a little more water to the ziploc bag and squish away. Obviously, it needed more water. Disregard the table about the starter build of Dabrownman's NoMussNoFuss starter. You don't need that. Just use instant dry yeast. Because of the long fermentation, the taste is great!

I have many posts on working with WW. Take a look around this site and see what helps.

BTW-there are white whole wheat grains that make a wonderful WW loaf without the red color or the bitterness of the tannins that many people dislike. Look for Hard, white wheat berries in your search.

Bake deliciousnes with love!

Beth's picture

10 minutes to hydrate sounds quite short for whole grain, and definitely for freshly-milled flour. A long soaking/autolyse allows the bran to soak up plus it allows enzymes in the flour to go to work liberating the sugars (and minerals) so that they can be put to use. I really like Peter Reinhart's epoxy method for whole wheat loaves. His whole grain book is worth a read, but in short, he mixes half of the flour and water with all of the salt in one bowl, the other half of the flour and water with yeast in another bowl, lets them sit at room temperature overnight, then combines the two in the morning.

It also sounds like your batch was just too dry.

ifs201's picture

Does the epoxy method work with sourdough starter or only dried commercial yeast? 

Beth's picture

I expect you can. It's been too long since I read the book to remember if Reinhart comments about this. Depending on the amount of starter you use, I might start the half with the salt at the same time as the last feeding of the starter so that the yeast wouldn't get exhausted.

kemptoncatdad's picture

Hey gatorengineering, I am relatively closeby in Kempton, PA near Hawk Mountain. You can get locally grown Wheat Berries (and freshly milled flour) from a produce stand called Crooked Row Farmstand that is near Orefield on 309. Also, about 5 minutes from Wholefoods is Healthy Alternatives, try calling them as well.  Do you have any bread baking book resources yet?