20210526 How I develop gluten for whole wheat dough
To prevent unsightly pinhole crumbs caused by excessive hydration of whole wheat flour, before I bake, I test the flour's absorption capacity by autolyzing it under different hydration levels and observing its gluten development. The hydration at which the dough starts to slack/tear is the bottom line for me to stop adding water to the dough.
Alternatively, if my dough contains more than whole wheat flour, I can still judge the maximum hydration of the dough during the mixing process without pre-testing (such as how I do it here).
At the pre-dough stage, I use just enough water to form a dough that I can knead/mix easily later on.
At the mixing stage, I mix the pre-dough, to further develop/strengthen its gluten to ~ medium+ development before adding more water. I continue to mix and add more water gradually to maximize the dough's hydration. I take care not to over-mix since the whole wheat dough is fragile.
Also, I found that using CLAS in the whole-wheat dough can significantly improve its quality. In addition to imparting superb flavors to the whole-wheat bread, CLAS also tenderizes its crumb, making it supple like white bread, even it's a lean dough with no fat, dairy, or sugar.
I apply similar principles when developing "white" doughs' gluten.