The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

help, advice? whole wheat sourdough bread

director517's picture
director517

help, advice? whole wheat sourdough bread

Hi everyone,


 


I'm new here, so I don't know if there may be some protocol I'm supposed to follow, so forgive me if I jump right in.


 


I have been trying for weeks now (every day or every other day), to get a loaf of 100% whole wheat sourdough out of my oven. No success. I've had a starter for about a year. I keep it refrigerated. Sometimes I neglect it, but it always bounces back, and at the moment, with 2xd feedings, it's bubbly and aliive.


 


I've painstakingly followed several different recipes, one from sourdoughhome.com, another from breadtime stories, the book, and others from the web. Here's what always happens:


I get everything ready, kneaded, and in a bowl for the first rise. No problem. It doubles, beautiful.


I deflate it, and, using different theories (knead it. Don't knead it. Fold it. Etc.), i give it a second rise. No problem, usually.


Then, After second rise, I shape it, put it in a 8.5x4.5 pan, stick it back in the oven with the light on, and here's where it always goes wrong" I can never get this third rise , and I end up with a flat useless brick of bread (I eat it anyway: sliced thin and treated like cocktail rye).


My first thought was, don't give it the third rise, just pan it after one rise. That worked OK, but not great, I still did not get a great rise.


Other possibilities? I wait too long after feeding the starter to get it into the mix, but I've tried various approaches to that possibility with no real great success.


 


Perhaps my apartment is too cold. Perhaps I'm not using good flour (KAF all purpose whole wheat).


Any and all suggestions, modifications,  suggestions would be welcome. I just don't know what I'm doing wrong.


 


Thanks.


Sam

Eli's picture
Eli

My approach would be to allow it to bulk rise, first rise. Then, especially since it is a whole wheat, I would gently deflate from the bulk first rise and shape or place in form and allow it a second rise. Once risen, depending on your recipe, I would bake it then. Try that and see how it works for you.


Eli


 


www.elisfoods.wordpress.com

director517's picture
director517

Many thanks, Eli, for your kind response.


I'm not totally sure what you mean by "bulk-rise", but I have a feeling I do. What you're suggesting is something I tried roughly once, and it's on my list of experiments (thursday), to repeat that attempt again.


 


Another place where my ignorance shows: why does the deflating have to be gentle? When I was a teen I systematically baked my way through "beard on bread" (from beginning to end, including the sourdough), and I seem to remember being encouraged to punch the hell out of the dough. I've also come across recipes that suggest a few minutes of kneading before a second rise. Is this something specific to whole wheat or to sourdough?


 


Anyway, thanks again, and I think I'll check out your blog for a little while now.


 


Cheers.


Sam


 

Eli's picture
Eli

Bulk ferment is just your first rise after kneading. As for the "gentle" deflating if you want the open crumb with irregular holes you will degas them and there will be no more gas to give you that rise and irregular holes. (That may not be a great scientific explanation but I think it meets the gist) For my sourdough loaves to acheive that open crumb I had to learn to be a little more gentle in shaping for the final proof.


Let us know how you do! We all love pix!


 


Eli


www.elisfoods.wordpress.com

gavinc's picture
gavinc

So much could be a the heart of your problem.  I've never had a sourdough double in volume during bulk fermentation or final fermentation.  You will notice some volume increase of course, but the trick is to balance this development with flavour developement. Too much volume is at the sacrifice of flavour (over proofing).  I suggest you concentrate on dough temperatures (24 to 25 C) and bulk fermentation for 2 and a half hours with one or two folds during this time.  Shape and final ferment for 2 to 2 and a half hours.  The final volume development comes from the oven spring during baking.


It appears that your starter is fully active so in my opinion that's not the problem.  Some cultures are more sluggish than other more aggressive ones, which means that your schedule will be longer or shorter than I described.


I would also try a variation of your formula; 50% whole wheat flour, 50% bread flour, 69% water and 1.8% salt.  Make your final levain build with whole wheat flour at 100% hydration.


If you're seriously into sourdoughs then read up on bakers percentage and scale all ingredients.


I agree with Eli; you need to shape the dough without banging out all the gas, so medium firmness.  Once you cut up the dough to desired sizes for baking, a period of 15 to 20 minutes of letting the dough relax before you do the final shaping helps.


Cheers,


Gavin.


 


 


 

director517's picture
director517

Thanks, Gavin, for your kind response.


 


I will read up on percentages. I just ordered a kitchen scale, which will arrive on friday. I've never used one before, believe it or not, and yet I've been making bread for years... however this project has really stumped me. I'm used to intuitive eyeballing and texture in in the hands, but it's not serving me well right now.


I also am not familiar with the "folds" that you're speaking of, but I could guess, so I am going to try to get a sense of that as well. I think that's a technique I'm not familiar with.


 


This weekend is dedicated to study and practice. I'll let you know how it goes.


 


Thanks again.


 


Sam

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hi Sam, and welcome to TFL!


One of the great bakers on TFL is Mark of thebackhomebakery. Here's a link to a video of Mark kneading and folding (gently), that I think will explain this relatively new take on how to treat your dough after it has risen for a while. Check out Mark's other videos, they're very instructive.


http://thebackhomebakery.com/Tutorials/KneadFold.html


Hope this helps!


Soundman (David)

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Keep us informed of your progress and results. There are many greatly skilled people on this site that are willing to jump in and help.  I've learned a lot since joining TFL; I was at a point that I was about to give up myself.  Passion and practice.


Cheers,


Gavin.

karinb's picture
karinb

Gavin - you recommended 50% whole wheat flour & 50% bread flour.

If you use hard wheat (which all packaged wheat flour would be unless marked pastry flour) it has a naturally high gluten content. Bread flour is a hard wheat and, unless marked that it has additional gluten or other ingredient added, would be the exact same thing (but probably cost a little more because of the packaging).

I mill my own grains and haven't had a problem with my starter. What is the recipe you use for your starter?

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Hi karinb,


Not sure how the flours in the US are milled and products produced, but I suspect that they would be similar to here in Australia as milling is an ancient art.  Many different grains are used depending on the purpose of the end user.  I take whole wheat to be different to bread flour.  Both are based on wheat berries, however the whole wheat has had a proportion of the bran and/or germ returned after the extraction process, therefore increasing the fibre content and starch levels.  We can buy flours at varying % of fibre returned.  Mills process the wheat to get the most flour then return some fibre depending on the product; the bread flour I buy has none returned and is of a wheat type that provides 11.9% protein.  The normal un-bleached general purpose flour here is 10% protein.


It's law here that all flours must have some thiamine added. link regarding thiamine and bread flour in Australia: http://www.gograins.com.au/grainsnutrition/ns/ns7_7.html


My final levain build for a whole wheat loaf is: 136 g whole wheat flour, 136 g water and 28 g mature culture.  Keep 28 g back and add the rest to the final dough plus 318 g whole wheat flour, 454 g bread flour, 490 water, 17 g salt.  Makes two large loaves.


Regards,


Gavin


 

karinb's picture
karinb

I don't actually buy flour from the store - I mill my own grains.  I use the entire wheat berry (and get the great nutritional value that comes with it) when I bake.  I also enjoy experimenting with other grains and grain combinations (especially like spelt, kamut, and amarynth.  


The reason why they require vitamin fortification (same in US) is because when they figured out how to remove part of the grain to make it able to sit on a shelf for long periods of time without becoming rancid, there was a sharp increase of people coming down with beri-beri. They took out the nutritional value and gave us back "dead" flour.  In order to keep people from getting sick, they needed to add some nutrition back to the flour.


I wasn't aware of the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome problem by using unfortified flour. 


Since I mill my own, I know my family will never have either of these problems!


Karin

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Hi karin,


I like your approach and theory and agree your flour would be very nutitional.  I read somewhere way back that ageing was desireable after milling, but  can't remember what the benefits were, something to do with ozidation time and flour behaviour.  Have you heard of that?  I regulary make sourdough with 10% organic rye and alternate the same formula with 10% whole wheat that I "mill" myself (using a high speed food processor as I don't have a grain mill yet).  The bread has a wonderful flavour.  The topic of the best type of mill (stone ground or roll pressed) is a hot issue as I recall.  What is your preference? 


Gavin

director517's picture
director517

Gavin, Eli, et al.


 


Thanks for your insights. I've given the 100% sourdough a few tries since I posted here, and still having trouble. I gave up for awhile and went to making some regular, yeasted 100% ww breads just so that I could remember what a successful loaf of bread should feel and look like.


Here's my assessment, and any further insight would be appreciated. Using a scale seems to help. I finally have one, and it's also a lot easier and less messy than scooping, leveling, etc. I can't believe I've been doing w/o for all these years. So, using a scale, I think I'm getting close to the right proportions. I followed the weights and techniques of Mike's 100% sourdough recipe on his website, and also tried a loaf using a sponge method detailed in an old bread book I have - breadtime stories. Let the doughs rest, kneaded. Both got through their first rise very nicely...  Im 100% sure that the starter is not the problem, and I've boned up on folding as well.  (In fact, fell so in love with Mark's video for portuguese sweet bread, where I first learned about folding, that I had to make a few batches of that as well, and it's even on the Christmas menu now. )


I digress. What I'm noticing on the second rise, (in a pan, as per Eli's suggestion) though, is that the bread tends to begin to fall apart slightly. I used to ignore this until I noticed many people mentioning this on these forums. It tears or cracks (not sure what the right term is to describe it) with long striations all over the top of the loaf. I think this is leading to the bread not getting it's second rise, or not a good one. It's not a tight, firm surface on top. Going onto the forums here, I've come to two opposite conclusions: that the dough is either too wet or too dry. My third conclusion is that I'm not kneading it enough. Hmmm. I feel like I knead forever. I always set the timer for 12 minutes of kneading.  So I went back to making a regular 100% WWW loaf, just to remind myself of what a second rise should really look like. I baked two perfect loaves -- using yeast is easy. I'm almost ready to give up on this project, but so many people around here seem to have success, and to me, an adventurous sandwich eater,  a perfect 100% ww sourdough loaf is like a holy grail.


 


Any thoughts?


 


Sam

Eli's picture
Eli

You are about there. I think from what you describe you are on the correct path. You also realize the need for surface tension. I don't think you are overworking the dough. Water absorption by the whole wheat flour is going to be different, I think all flours are actually. If you are getting the breaks maybe you need to shorten your proofing time? Another suggestion is to cut back on whole wheat till and gradually increase your ratio w to whole.


Hope that helps! I will ponder some more and try to check back.


 


Eli


 


www.elisfoods.wordpress.com