For those who mix whole wheat with a DLX...
...for about how long do you usually knead the dough? I have varied the kneading time from 5 to 12 minutes, and I still have never had the 'windowpane' look to my dough, except when I use bread flour. I'm trying to stick to 100% fresh-ground hard white wheat (with occasionally some spelt, kamut, red wheat added for variation). I'm afraid to overknead, but I'm not sure if I have ever kneaded it long enough either...
The bread usually turns out fairly well, when I don't forget a major ingredient (like the salt). I'm shooting for soft loaf bread. Once I can turn that out consistently, maybe I'll venture into artisan. The loaves do tend to be a little on the dense side. I wish I could attain soft and fluffy whole wheat bread, so I'd like to look at each step of the process and see where I can improve.
I don't mix for long. Maybe 5 minutes, in most cases, a little longer for doughs with fats in them. I tend to use autolyse instead.
An experiment I'm thinking of doing next weekend is a looong knead. I'm reading about French pain ordinaire and hearing about anything from 15 to 25 minute machine kneads. I've never done anything even close to that. It isn't supposed to make the best bread, which is why people are moving back to the old style autolyse, but it'd be interested to see what happens when I try it at home.
Many thanks to Floydm and jmonkey.
I finally made a few loaves with a biga using the whole wheat buttermilk recipe in jmonkey's post. These turned out beautiful! But, alas, they were devoured within 2 days...
Thrilled with my initial success, I used floydm's advice and used the autolyse method for my next batch, using the same recipe, but quadrupling it (8 loaves). For the first time ever, I could describe the dough as 'silky'. It turned out even better than the previous batch.
On a roll, my next attempt was floydm's "Daily Bread", making a poolish the night before, and using the autolyse method for the remaining flour the next day. Oh my goodness! This is the most awesome bread! The texture and flavor were delectable. The crust was perfect--crusty and chewy, but the inside texture though soft, can use some improvement. I'd love to someday see the uneven holes.
More than even the improved texture, I was very happy with both recipes to find that the bread does not have the yeasty flavor that I had become accustomed to in my homemade loaves. And the 'daily bread' had a rich, complicated flavor that I thought only the breads at Whole Foods could have.
For so long, I was scared off by the terms 'biga', 'poolish', and 'autolyse'. I thought they must be very time-consuming and complicated. But they are actually very simple methods that take the bread quality to a much higher level.
Thanks so much for this website!
I'm glad to hear that they turned out well! I should add a bit about the autolyse -- when I have time, I do it and it makes a significant difference in the rise.