Whole Wheat = Dense Loaf?
Hello everyone, I just joined the forum yesterday, after having a disappointing first attempt at baking my very first load of bread from scratch. I will be relating what I did in the hopes that someone will help me understand what I might have done wrong. My apologies for being wordy, but I want to make sure all the relevant details are disclosed at the beginning in case the smallest one makes a difference.
I used the "Braided Loaf" recipe of Baking: Easy to Make Great Home Bakes by Carole Clements. The loaf came out edible, but dense and too crunchy on the outside. The recipe is as follows:
Ingredients: 1 package active dry yeast, 1 tsp honey, 1 cup lukewarm milk, 4 tbsp butter (melted), 3 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 egg (lightly beaten), 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp milk for glazing.
Preparation: 1) Combine yeast, honey, milk and butter, stir, and leave 15 minutes to dissolve. 2) In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture and egg. With a wooden spoon, stir from the center, incorporating flour with each turn, to obtain a rough dough 3) Tranfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a clean bowl, cover, and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1.5 hours. 4) Grease a baking sheet. Punch down the dough and divide into three equal pieces. Roll to shape each piece into a long thin strip. 5) Begin braiding from the center strip, tucking in the ends. Cover loosely and leave to risein a warm place for 30 minutes. 6) Preheat oven to 375*F. Place the bread in a cool place while oven heats. Brush with the glaze and bake until golden, 40-45 minutes. Set on a rack to cool completely.
My alterations: I used 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup white flour; and used almond milk instead of cow's milk.
My preparation: I followed step #1 as best I could. I warmed up the milk a little too much I think, so I put it in the fridge for a couple of minutes to cool, and on the table for a couple more minutes. By the time I combined the ingredients in step #1, the milk was not as hot...though I am thinking it was still a little warmer than lukewarm. I did see the yeast dissolve and foam up to 2X its volume.
I also followed steps #2 and #3 as best I could, though at first, the dough seemed to be a little dry and pieces of it were not stiking together. After kneading for a little bit (maybe a good 7-10 minutes), all the dough was finally combined and smooth. I was able to shape it into a pretty round loaf before I put it into a bowl to let it rise. I wasn't sure what to cover the dough with, so I used seran wrap to cover the bowl. Also, I let the dough rise for about 2 hours and 15 minutes, rather than the 1.5 hours of the recipe, since at 1.5 hours the dough hadn't risen enough.
I followed steps #4-6 according to the recipe, with the exception of baking time, which I altered by adding 1 or 2 more minutes. I should also say that my oven is not the best (it's an electric, cheap one unfortunately), and I did not have an oven thermometer to check the temperature. I basically relied on the oven's own preheating report.
As stated above, the loaf was edible--especially the next day, after storing it overnight in a sealed plastic bag. But it was dense (I almost want to say "very dense" but perhaps that's a bit of an exageration).
Needless to say, I was disappointed, and want to know what I might have done wrong. Thanks much for your help!