The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Does a long ferment increase bitterness in whole wheat?

moontripper's picture
moontripper

Does a long ferment increase bitterness in whole wheat?

I used to make a 100% whole wheat sandwich bread from a white flour recipe I adapted. It had a low hydration, and was prepared in the classical mix-knead-rise-shape-rise-bake. Sometimes I would add other grains to this basic recipe. My loaves were rather dense, and often they would not rise very much. I think I may have overworked the dough in an effort to get that elusive window pane. BUT they tasted great!

Then I learned about whole wheat and hydration, plus a few "new" tricks that I thought would help me get bigger, lighter loaves. So recently I've been baking 100% whole wheat at 70-75% hydration, doing an autolyse, and using the refrigerator for 18 hour ferments with about 3 stretch and fold sessions thrown in. My loaves came out much higher and lighter. BUT I noticed 2 things: first, a very noticeable bitter taste which I never had before, and secondly, a "crumbly" crumb that would barely hold a slice of bread together.

Can anyone help me explain this? I might mention also that my original recipe called for 2 tbsp of instant yeast. I reduced this to 1 1/2 tbsp in view of the long ferment, but maybe it was still too much? Because the dough would still rise rather fast even in the fridge, and each time I did a stretch and fold I'd have to de-gas the dough so it might have risen too many times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

halfrice's picture
halfrice

I can't explain the bitter taste but crumbly crumb is a feature of whole wheat bread. If you want it to come out less crumbly, I suggest you mix in a little white flour. Regarding the yeast, it's hard to tell without knowing your loaf size. To give you an idea, I use three quarters of half a teaspoon for my daily loaf which is made up of 450g flour. My dough usually rise in 2-4 hours depending on the temperature. 

--------------------

Half Rice Half Woman 

moontripper's picture
moontripper

I use 800 g of WW flour for 2 loaves, and 1.5 Tbsp of instant yeast-- so that's 3/4 Tbsp per 400 g. So, yes compared to your recipe it is a lot.

Regarding crumbliness, when I used to turn out my highly-kneaded "bricks", I didnt have this problem. I'm guessing that the denseness was due to overkneading--which also helped to keep the crumb together. Now that the loaves are airier, the gluten strands are stretched more finely but because they are fragile, they break easily in the baked loaf?

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog

I do whole wheat sourdough from fresh ground flour.  I have been doing long autolyse and ferments with this flour and don't get a bitter taste to it at all.  In fact I get a very nice sweetness to it.

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

another thing you could do in order to reduce the "crumbliness" is to pour boiling water over a part of the whole wheat flour. stir well, and let the mix come to room temperature before incorporating it in the rest of the dough. it's a trick i often do when i make whole wheat rolls. there's a norwegian term for it, but i'm not sure what it's called in english... perhaps anyone else knows?

moontripper's picture
moontripper

Oh! sounds interesting...that's worth a try, thanks.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I have found WW tends to be more crumbly-I've eaten some sandwiches with a fork! :) I have found several things that help,tho I'm still new enough in bread bakig that I can't say with utter certainty they will always solve the problem.

1.WW flavor seems to develop best with a long,ferment so that it absorbs moisture in to the tough parts of the grain.

2.That said, it needs to be a tackier,moister dough at the start of the ferment. I used to make my dough "tacky,not sticky" but with WW it needs to be slightly sticky at the start of a long ferment.It should be less sticky when it is ready to loaf.

3.Less yeast for a longer rise also makes for better flavor. Experiment with a lot less yeast in a batch and see if the flavor is better. If you bake bricks, they are always good for bread crumbs.

4.Fresh flour is very important! It may be you have a batch of either older flour or a batch of grain with a bitter flavor,if you grind your own. Old WW flour bakes a bread with the taste of old oil.Yuk. It is the wheat germ oil in the flour becoming oxidized/rancid. This can happen very quickly in storebought WW flour.

5.Consider adding a touch of oil to your recipe.It does change the texture but can improve the crumbliness. Adding about 1 tbsp vegetable oil per 3-4 c flour is about the minimal.More will give a cakier texture-prob not what you want.

6.WW needs a lower temp oven and a slightly longer bake.This helps a lot with the moisture content of the crumb. But don't dry it out. I'm talking about 375F(instead of 400-450) and add 5-10 minutes to the usual bake time.

7. I don't think kneading/or not kneading has a lot to do with the texture. How to properly shape a loaf has a LOT to do with it. Glutens form in the initial mixing whether we knead it or not. Kneading/stretching helps align and elongate the gluten strands. Properly forming a loaf distributes the strands evenly in the loaf so when everything expands, the spacing is balanced to give a good texture. In an improperly formed loaf, an area that is too dense is crowded, strands can't stretch out and abrade against each other and break-becomes crumbly.More common in WW. That is my theory,at least.

Julia Child and a guest French baker (Dannielle??) demonstrate this beautifully on a video on PBS.org.I didn't bookmark it but it probably is found with a search of the PBS site.  www.pbs.org

 

Hope this is helpful.

 

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

"5.Consider adding a touch of oil to your recipe.It does change the texture but can improve the crumbliness. Adding about 1 tbsp vegetable oil per 3-4 c flour is about the minimal.More will give a cakier texture-prob not what you want."

That's *definitely* not been my experience.  The sandwich bread recipe I use uses a full 1/4C of oil (!) for a 700g loaf, and the texture is certainly not cakey... suprisingly light and airy, actually.  It does soften the crumb, so you don't get that familiar chewy texture of a lean bread, but I'd definitely not call it "cakey".

I can't really comment on the rest, as I never do a 100% whole wheat bread (75% is typical for me).  That said, I always shoot for a higher hydration when using a large amount of WW flour (65-70%), and I bake my sandwich loaves at a lower temp (400F for the first 5 minutes, 350F until the center hits 195F, around 25 minutes).

I will say that just this past Sunday, I accidentally bulk fermented my dough, at room temp, for something like 6 1/2 hours (I kept forgetting to throw the loaf in the oven after the final proof! Whoops!).  Basically, I did 1 1/2 hour bulk ferment, shaped, 2 hours later I realized I'd forgotten about it, reshaped, another 2 hours (don't ask), then reshaped again, then maybe an hour, then scored and baked.

The result?  More oven spring than I've ever gotten, a nice light texture, and flavour as good as ever (in fact sweeter than normal, as you'd expect)... and I have no idea why.  I'm guessing the longer fermentation acted as an extended autolyze, helping to futher develop the gluten w/o kneeding (thus preventing the bran from slicing it up), and the kneeding inbetween as I reshaped the dough worked the same way a stretch-and-fold sequence.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I found the link! There are 2 videos and how she shapes her loaves is a wonderful lesson. The topic is making traditional french bread. Some of the bread shaping concepts can be applied to any bread.

Enjoy.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I found the link!

http://www.pbs.org/juliachild/meet/forestier.html

There are 2 videos on making traditional french bread but how she shapes her loaves is the real lesson here. The concepts can be used for shaping any type of bread loaf- an even distribution of the dough and the proper surface tension.  

 

Enjoy! 

moontripper's picture
moontripper

Thanks a lot for your detailed comments!

From everything you've said I think the key thing maybe the yeast--I've certainly used too much.  I suspect the multiple risings over the long ferment may have added a "beery"/bitter flavor --I read about this somewhere (my recipe also calls for sugar).

As for crumbliness, I am certainly no expert at shaping, so yes, it's something I can still improve at.  Thanks for the link!

 

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

do you normaly let you dough sit in a fridg for that long. 

How cold is the fridg

the taste was it bitter or sour did it smell lick booz?

your dough might have over worked ...even in your fridg and gone sour

did it bake old meaning the crust got a little less color than normal and the grain a little mor open.

if your fridg was opened more than normal this could cause the tast and the cromb problem

in hot weather people go in and out of the fridg more often cause the temp to be higher than it should be.

in the bakeries a dough that was to be put in the fridg (retarder)

would be tha last thing made so when put in the box the box would stay closed and reach the coldest temp and stay there to keep the yeast from working.

moontripper's picture
moontripper

I never did this long ferment (18 hours) using the fridge before until the last few batches.  That's when I noticed the bitterness.

Yes, I suspect my fridge is not as cold as it should be because it does get opened a lot. The taste is not 'boozy', just bitter.  The crust color is ok, though the crumb is more open, but I though that was due to the better rise.  

Also, as I mentioned earlier, I was using too much yeast, which was causing the dough to rise too quickly, even in the fridge. I did 3 stretch and folds--the first time after mixing, the next 2 times, the dough from the fridge would already be almost double in size and I would have to de-gas it.  So perhaps the dough would have risen too many times?

I am doing a batch now just 2 tsp of yeast (down from 2 Tbsp!).  Maybe it's still too much...I'll know very soon.

Thanks for your comments, they are very helpful!

 

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

i've recently started to retard the dough during bulk fermentation, and so far, i have not noticed any bitterness in my breads. after mixing the dough, i let it sit at room temperature for anything between 30 and 60 minutes, and then straight into the fridge for anything between 8 and 20 hours (depending on my own schedule). sometimes i do a stretch and fold before i put the dough into the fridge, but i've never done any further degassing of the dough.

i don't increase the amount of yeast for this procedure; most of the breads i bake have yeast in the range of 1.2% (in terms of bakers %).  i'm not very familiar with instant dry yeast (i'm mainly using fresh yeast), but 2tbsp sounds like a LOT to me. i think 1.5 tsp or 2 tsp would be more appropriate for two loaves.

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

One way to improve the crumb of the 100% WW bread would be to autolyse the flour, either at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, or in the fridge overnight. Just water and flour. This will soften up the sharp edges of the bran and germ, and prevent them from cutting as many gluten strands. 

Another thing that will help the crumb is proper gluten development in your dough. This is done by folding (or kneading) an appropriate amount of time. Usually whatever the recipe calls for.

Rudy

-----------------------------
My TFL Blog Page

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

2T of dry yeast (1 oz) is equal to 2 oz fo fresh yeast that is enough for about 2,5 to 3 pounds of flour.  at room temp the dough should finish rise 1 in about 45 minutes and rise two about 30 minutes after that and be ready to shape and proof.

if the fridg is not as cold as it needs to be the dough will rise in the fridg because the ithe temp of the center of the dough will be much warmer than the outside.

yeast stops all activity at 32 dreges and the whole dough must be at that temp not just the outside.  if the center is at a highter temp the yeast will still be working.  since dry yeast MUST be mixed in warm 100 degree water for it to start working it will take a cold fridg to stop it again.  try to use and get fresh cake yeast and use cold water about 45 to 50 degree water when you mix that will slowthings up and the cold water will not hurt the fresh yeast like it will the dry.

i know someone here will say that instant yeast does not need the warm water but there are reasons it does.

moontripper's picture
moontripper

Hansjoakim :

yes, I think the problem with the bitterness was too much yeast. The dough was rising too fast even in the fridge (which is not as cold as it should be) I just made a batch today with 2 tsp, and reduced the number of folds to just twice so as not to further lengthen fermentation. I also shortened the total bulk fermentation to about 12 hours.  The bitterness was gone, in fact it had a distinctly sweet taste :-)  I am doing another batch with just 1.5 tsp to see how it goes.

nbicomputers:

 you're right, my fridge is too warm. I reduced as much as possible opening the door, but I suppose it only helped a bit, I live in a warm climate.  But by reducing the yeast the fermentation slowed down substantially--I think it was responsible for the bitter taste.

 Kosherbaker:

Yes, I did autolyse (1 hour), stretch and fold (2-3 x). My latest batch is no longer bitter, but the crumb is still rather "crumbly".  I get a marvelous oven spring, which I think is contributing to the crumbliness.  I'm wondering whether my hyrdation is too high at 70%, considering that I ferment for 12 hours or more-- I'm thinking this gives the flour adequate time to totally hydrate, thus less need for water?  In my latest batch I reduced hydration to 65%.  I'll see very soon...

thanks for all your comments!

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

also remember that active dry yeast is 30% dead yeast from the start ald if it is not redydrated correctly water withen 2 degrees of the recomended temp of the manufacture there will me mor than 30% dead cells which will give you a more yeasty flavor plus other problems.

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

Which is why instant yeast really is the best choice, IMHO.  It has more live yeast cells, which means you can use less, and you don't have to mess around with an activation step.  Just throw it in with your dry ingredients and go nuts.  This is especially nice if you like a long autolyze, as you can incorporate the yeast into the dough later by simply kneeding it in as-is.

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

Acualy fresh compresed cake yeast is best.   Yes there is the storage issue but as long as you can keep it below 45 F it wil last  I have had fresh yeast last for 2 months in the fridge and its cheap.  It costs about 1 dollar a pound.   I dont recomend getting it in a super market.   Just ask a local bakery and I am sure they will be willing to sell a block. Since it comes in two pound blocksthey should not charge more that three dollars for it. and in home use making say, two and a halv pounds of flour you would only use two ounces a batch. is you use two ounces every other day you have two monthes supply and as i saied it will live in the fridg for at least two months  

it is 100 percent active cells and can be kneded right in your dough also. and un like dry it will not have to absorb and water from your dough so the percentages will not change.

I am sure we could argue about both kinds for hours but one fact remains true all professional bakers use fresh yeast and nothing elce.  there is a reason for that. :)

SteveB's picture
SteveB

"... one fact remains true all professional bakers use fresh yeast and nothing elce [sic]."

With all due respect to nbicomputers, the above quote is a bunch of baloney. 

SteveB

www.breadcetera.com

apprentice's picture
apprentice

for emphasis perhaps? Why do leaveners always get such a rise out of bakers? lol I've heard more arguments from proponents of this or that yeast (let alone no yeast) than anything else in the baking world! But it does seem as if instant is the current favourite among the professionals I know.

SteveB's picture
SteveB

One person's exaggeration is another person's misinformation. 

SteveB

www.breadcetera.com

apprentice's picture
apprentice

Yes, misinformation. Good word. I was glad you picked up on it, actually, since this is a website for amateur bakers and bread enthusiasts. Not everyone would realize that Norm was overstating his case.

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

well maybe all is pushing it but i can say that after 25 tears in the baking biz i have met hundreds of bakers at trade shows and on the job.  not a one of thef would use anything but freash yeast. and these men would be makiing hundres sometimes thoudands of consistant lovas a week.

i know the people out there writing all these books about bread but how many on these authers worked in a shop making loaf after loaf every day.

i talk from 25 five years of baking experince.

did not mean to hijack this thread.  if you feel im full of it thats ok.  it was a hard biz and you would have to walk in my shoes to realy understand.

apprentice's picture
apprentice

Nothing personal in my comment, Norm. I have the greatest respect for all the walking you've done in those shoes. But the times, they are a-changing.

Active dry is hardly, if ever, used by pro bakers now. Never a great favourite but used occasionally, it was superseded by instant which was developed in the late 1970s. Those who used fresh (yes, the majority) also began to switch over because instant is practical in any situation, takes up less storage space and has a longer shelf life. Of course, instant is especially useful where a supply of fresh yeast is not readily available or when fermentation time is short, as it is in conventional or no-time doughs. Who knows how this trend will ultimately go in the industry? But for now, instant is often the yeast of choice.

I don't think you're full of anything except maybe pride in what you accomplished. Regardless, it's not true in the current climate that pro bakers all use fresh yeast and nothing else. You're absolutely right that it's a tough business. If a company wants to stay in businss, they use what's available, well-priced, suited to their production needs, etc. For all of us, amateur or pro, it's good to have options.

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

WELL i have been ret for what seems like forver but has been at teast 10 years now.

but i still stand by my guns and think fresh is best

apprentice's picture
apprentice

pro and amateur alike. I'm a fan of fresh myself. We can only guess how this issue will play out in the industry. These are interesting times with the resurgence of interest in real bread!