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Whole wheat loaves tear while baking

Baron d'Apcher's picture
Baron d'Apcher

Whole wheat loaves tear while baking

I am having an issue where the whole wheat loaves are tearing and I believe it is a matter of gluten development/dough strength (over mixed or undermixed) rather than proofing since the loaves are well proofed, perhaps even past optimum proofing.  Even when I do 1 long score, the bread seems to tear rather than stretch during the baking.

I am using stone ground whole grain flour (Farm Ground Flour)

1500g high-extraction bread flour

1300g whole wheat bread flour

150g  rye

2500g water

660g  starter (100% hydration)

60g  salt

2min mix in standing mixer, 30 min autolyse, 4 min mix speed 2 with salt.  Dough temp is 76F.

Bulk ferment for 3 hours with folds the first 2 hours.  Preshape, bench rest 20 minutes and proof 1-1.5hrs at room temp on a couche before refrigerating overnight.  I bake straight from the fridge @450F for 40 minutes (first 20 minutes with steam).

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

What you have there is the holy grail! What any bread baker worth their salt would aspire to achieve! Very nice oven spring, and whole wheat to boot!

Baron d'Apcher's picture
Baron d'Apcher

Perhaps, but they would be even better if they did not split.  I've tried less and more mixing time but get similar results. It is frustrating.

barryvabeach's picture

my two cents, and I normally bake 100% whole wheat, is that I don't get tearing during oven spring when the loaf is fully proofed .  So if that is your concern, try extending final proof a little and see.  

ifs201's picture


I recently bought 25lbs of the FGF half-white (or high extraction bread flour). The same that you are using here. Embarrassingly, I didn't fully understand the properties of the flour when I bought it. If you wouldn't mind sharing, I would be interested in knowing how you generally incorporate it into your breads (percentage of overall flour etc...). Previously most of my loaves were 75% KA bread flour and 25% whole wheat. 



Baron d'Apcher's picture
Baron d'Apcher

Hello Ilene,

The FGF Hi-ex is 85% extraction.  I do a miche-style bread with 95% hi-extraction, 5% rye and 83-85% hydration depending on the time of the year.  I messed around with 45% hi-ex and 45% AP (FGF) to try to get a more open crumb, but I like a tighter crumb for putting things on the slice and not having it fall through the holes.  It is definitely a flour that demands a higher hydration.  I substituted the KA organic select once and the dough was much lighter in color, I could feel that it was more supple, but prefer the better nutrition of the high-extraction and the darker crumb conjures a more wholesome bread.

It is not an east flour to work with and being that it is most likely milled (stone ground) more recently than any KA, the properties are different and it requires a more gently mixing/kneading.  I'm still trying to figure it out.

ifs201's picture

Thanks for sharing, that's helpful. I've definitely noticed that it's thirsty and I'm going to boost the hydration a bit. I made one loaf this weekend using 100% t85 with 80% hydration and felt I should have added more water. The first loaf I made was 80% t85 and 20% whole wheat - it was okay but definitely too dense for my taste. Since then I've done 50/50 bf/t85, but haven't used AP as you suggested.


Interesting point about the difference in needing a more delicate mix. I haven't noticed that, but I also do everything by hand so it's probably pretty delicate to begin with.

DanAyo's picture

Baron, when I zoom in on your loaves, it looks like the gluten is either, not well developed enough or not extensible enough to facilitate the necessary stretching. Look at the crust in the bloom. It is blotchy and the “fabric” of the gluten is irregular.

It may be worth trying an extended autolyse to increase the extensibility of the dough. I would be prone to over exaggerate, and try a 2-3hr autolyse.

What do you think?

Please upload a crumb shot when the loaf is sliced. It may give us hints as to the proofing.

Depending on how high of an extraction is the “high extraction flour”, 71.5% hydration may not be wet enough. Does your dough feel dry?


Both loaves look really nice to me. But I also am a perfectionist... :) 

Baron d'Apcher's picture
Baron d'Apcher

Hello Dan,

A 2-3hr autolyse is not possible since I am in a production kitchen (farm store/butcher shop) and the most I can do is 30min so that I can mix other breads and use the mixer for other purposes.  The fabric of the gluten is often irregular in other loaves (I make a hi-extraction miche and a multi-grain rye) and I am confident that the gluten/extensibility is not what it should be -and that is problem: is it under mixed or over mixed?  I don't get that stretchy pattern I see on other similar sourdoughs with stone ground whole grain.  Can I get through a longer 2nd mix after autolyse or more stretch & folds?  I'm flummoxed.  The flavor of the bread is very good, I just want it to look good as well and have proper volume.

The extraction is 85%.  I calculate 86% total hydration (2830 water/3280 flour) and the dough seems wet.enough.  

Today I baked some of the loaves direct from the fridge after a shorter BF (2.5hrs rather than 3) 1.5hr proof (kitchen is 73-75F) and an 18hr overnight retard in the fridge (38-40F) and they split.

I left some out to proof longer after taking them out of the fridge and while they did not split, they were overproofed and flat.

Could I use more levain in lieu of a longer autolyse?  I feed the levain in the morning, allow it to almost double and refrigerate overnight.  It is very elastic in the morning.

Baron d'Apcher's picture
Baron d'Apcher

I increased the levain to 700g.  1.5hr proof, dough felt terrific.

And yet, it burst again.  I've been suggested to increase the hydration to 87% and I will increase the levain to 800g (28%).

The crumb seems to indicate an adequate proofing (I think) for a whole grain, whole wheat.

Elvis8404's picture

Hi Baron,

I am struggling with the same exact issue with the same exact flour. I'm wondering if you were ever able to find the solution to stop your bread from bursting while baking?

Thanks so much--