The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help with stoneground WW flour +sourdough problem....

RMatey's picture

Help with stoneground WW flour +sourdough problem....

Well I guess it is time to stop lurking.  I am pretty new to this site but from what I've see it is really great!

Although my newbie question is about two sourdough loafs it is also about whole wheat bread.  Since the starter, proccess, recipe etc were all the same I THINK it was the flour that goofed me.

Using Robin Hood Whole Wheat flour, 13% protein I get a nice dough that, with a bit of work, came together well, got nice and stretchy and produced nice, airy whole wheat sourdough.  This flour had the large flecks of bran, which I believe, is indicitive of remixed industrial grinding.

 Using this flour from "Anita's Organic Mill" (a local place)...marked Stone Ground Whole Wheat flour...I get a bag of flour which is all an even sized grind and gives me incredibly dense bread.  The thing is it is supposed to be 14% protein which should give me a bigger rise, bigger wholes, chewier crust.  I got no oven spring and during the rise my carefully shaped mini boules...ruptured.  It was like they didn't have the gluten to hold shape. 

Now I might have thought this was over acidification or over proofing but while kneading the dough, it just never really came together the way white or "big fleck" whole wheat does.  It reminded me of...sugar cookie dough?  It was smooth, and would stretch (like taffy stretches) but would never window pane to any great degree.  This was after 2x the amount of kneading as with Robin flour...

 So what are peoples thoughts?  Does stoneground whole wheat not knead as well because the bran is ground in so fine?  Or...I dunno.  I am lost.


foolishpoolish's picture

 With the high protein percentages you quoted (although granted, protein percentage alone is no guarantee of high quality gluten), I doubt there is a problem with the strength of the flour.  However, the bran can certainly intefere with the network of gluten that develops in the dough. Someone on these forums once compared the larger bran particles to razor blades acting on on the gluten.  

Might I suggest you try using a 'soaker'.  As the name suggests, the term soaker simply refers to soaking ingredients in water.  In this case, you would be hydrating some (or all) of your flour for a few hours (even overnight) before mixing in the remaining ingredients in the final dough.  This has two benefits for the gluten development. Firstly, you are letting the flour autolyse (giving the hydrated glutenin and gliadin time to combine to form gluten). Secondly the bran will soak up water and soften and make it less damaging to the gluten network.  

Much like yourself, I had great difficulty developing WW dough to the windowpane stage through kneading alone. As soon as I started using a soaker, things improved immensely.  I was amazed at the difference it made.

That said, one shouldn't expect  the same open crumb in a WW bread that you might with an all-white bread but hopefully using a soaker will give you dough which is easier to handle and shape and a better overall volume in the final product.

Hope that helps,



RMatey's picture

That makes perfect sense.  Soften the bran up good before you move it around.  I will try that.  That leads to another question...when converting a white flour recipe to whole wheat ( really do like using all whole grain flour) what is the general rule of thumb for increasing the water for equal hydration?  For instance...


If 20grams flour + 20 grams water = 100% hydration in white flour...

What percent of hydration gives you a similiar consistency?

 I admit that with all the baking I've been doing I have been just taking a white flour recipe, swapping the flour and then adding water to it by eye tell it is just slightly hard to work with.  Although this isn't a bad method I wonder if I can get closer to the right consistency off the bat with a slight variation.

Or I guess I could just measure the next time I eye ball it.  LOL