Questions regarding my whole wheat flour
I'm just learning to bake bread and my focus is on whole wheat. Where I am (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), the flour sold as "wholemeal" in all the baking supply stores looks the same and are packed in clear plastic bags without nutritional labels. None of the store employees in any of the baking supply stores are able to tell me if the flour is high or low protein nor what type of wheat it was milled from. I'm not completely satisfied with my bread. I would like the crumb to be fluffier. I believe it is because my flour's bran flakes are too coarse. The endosperm is finely milled but the bran is coarsely milled. The resulting dough stays sticky no matter how much I knead, although it gets less sticky as I knead more. The only time it feels tacky is when I flour my hands, flour the tabletop and knead it. But after about 15 strokes or so, bits of the dough starts tearing off and sticks to my hands. I believe the coarse bran flakes prevent the formation of long gluten strains. I can never get the windowpane. I can't get the dough to have a smooth shiny sheen like shown on this webpage . Consequently, the loaf that is shaped doesn't have good surface tension. You can see from my photo that there are lots of little holes on the surface, because the gluten strains tear and can't stretch.
Question: Can someone tell me is my flour a problem?
Question: Does the prefectly made 100% whole wheat sandwich bread have a soft and thin crust similar to store bought bread?
I can get whole wheat flour that has the endosperm, bran and germ finely milled but this organic flour is imported from Europe and costs more than twice the price of the local wholemeal flour.
Here are photos of the bread I just baked from start to finish. I used Reinhart's 100% whole wheat sandwich bread formula from Whole Grain Bread.
My local 'no brand' wholemeal flour. The bran flakes are clearly visible.
The biga before going into the fridge
The combined final dough before kneading. I had added a 1/2 tablespoon of water as the dough seemed stiff. But on hindsight I think I shouldn't have, it made the dough very sticky.
The dough after kneading. I started with the french fold, about 50 smackdowns, which didn't result in the silky smooth dough shown in Richard Bertinet's video, although it did get more coherent. But still very sticky. I then switched to the stretch and fold for 5 times. Not much improvement. Back to the traditional hand kneading, about 150 strokes, adding flour as I went along to prevent sticking. It is now more stretchable but definitely no where close to windownpane.
The shaped dough in the loaf pan at the start of proofing.
The proofed loaf just before going into the oven. The surface is full of little holes and the bran flakes are clearly visible. Oven preheated to 220C, baked bread at 180C for 20 minutes, turned it around and another 20 minutes at 180C.
The baked bread. I brushed melted butter on the top crust to soften it. It is delicious, crust is quite soft although not as soft as store bought bread. I would prefer a less dense crumb. Although this is already a quantum leap improvement over my initial doorstop breads.
The creases at the side are due to my parchment paper that lined my pan not straightened.