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I have a 100% whole wheat recipe. I am new to bread baking. I have had this recipe turn out only once. My question is how would i know if my recipe is correct with "normal" ratio's of the ingredients. i know the more experience you have the more you can "push" the boundaries of bread baking. would you have any suggestions on how to know if i have a good recipe or one i need to make adjustments for. unfortunately i don't know how to make adjustments. any help would be a blessing. Thank you in advance, Lisa

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Hi Lisa, welcome to Seasoned Advice! Please include the recipe which you've been using, or a link to it if you found it online. In addition, we need to know more about the problem; what do you mean by "turn out"? –  Aaronut Oct 9 '11 at 1:26
    
Aaronut, I have made this recipe See below quite a few times –  Lisa Oct 9 '11 at 23:18
    
Aaronut, I have made this recipe See below quite a few times and i had a perfect fold in half with out breaking sandwich loaves. 4-5c whole wheat flour red fresh ground,4Tb vital wheat gluten,1 tsp salt, 1c total of misc grains like (malt powder,wheat bran, wheat germ flax seed ground,oat bran ,barley, millet etc) 1 Tbl active yeast, 1/2c warm water for yeast, 1/2c butter soft,1/4 c honey, 1/4c molasses, 1 3/4c milk warmed. I am beginning to think it's me not knowing what i need to look for in the dough. or the recipe is way off in proportions and that i don't know how to correct it. –  Lisa Oct 9 '11 at 23:29
    
I am looking for a light 100% whole wheat sandwich bread. I have made it very hydrated and it falls in baking. if i add more flour it is like a brick. I can't seam to find the right hydration and or proportions, i am guessing. –  Lisa Oct 9 '11 at 23:35
    
Thank you for your help, your help was a blessing. –  Lisa Oct 10 '11 at 17:51

3 Answers 3

We have a whole wheat sandwich bread recipe that works just fine. It is certainly possible to get it right every time. As you noticed- if you want to be able to both chew and swallow your bread it does require extra gluten.

To improve your recipe- or at least make it more repeatable- it will help to switch it over to weights. Just make it as you normally would by volume but weigh each ingredient as you measure it out and write it down. You can then reliably tweak your ratios and enjoy predictability of your product.

Baking bread by weight, besides not being as affected by the weather, is also much faster. You don't have to carefully scoop out level cups anymore- you just dump in flour from the bag until the weight is correct.

I will also second the comment above that you might experiment a little bit with a recipe with half whole wheat or less so you can build some experience with what a properly hydrated dough looks like. If you have kids it also helps to break them in to the bitter flavors more gradually.

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thank you, i will switch to weight. How much gluten would you suggest for a home ground red wheat flour? I add at the moment 4Tb to 4c ww flour. I have read from 1 tsp to 2T per cup no clue what would be more accurate. –  Lisa Oct 10 '11 at 14:01
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I do have my recipe above, do you see anything that is way out of proportion? I do have children and they don't like white bread anymore. hurrah! –  Lisa Oct 10 '11 at 14:03
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The obvious thing is that 4-5 cups of flour is a huge variation! When you start weighing it you should be able to narrow that down a lot. My recipe has the same ratio of gluten to flour to water as yours (counting the water for the yeast.) The other whole grains that you add may change things a bit though. They will soak up water if they sit too long and they will damage the gluten if they are sharp. –  Sobachatina Oct 10 '11 at 14:36
    
So i should maybe cook/soak the extra grains i use to reduce their sharpness...so as not to cut the gluten strands? will this help? –  Lisa Oct 10 '11 at 15:01
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I just finished making my bread, in first rise now. I soaked extra grains in 1c water, they were still very wet when i added them to the mix. should i have decreased my water/milk just a bit? the mix was very very wet. I had to add a LOT more flour to get it to look smooth, soft, and to pull away from sides of bowl. did window pane @ 6min on speed #1 on kitchen aid. looked not quite enough, did another 3min and window pane was nice and thin no rips. let it to rise now. i also weighed out flour etc. –  Lisa Oct 10 '11 at 16:51

Lisa,

Another possible cause of your bread issues is kneading time. Whole wheat flour requires a lot more kneading to develop its gluten than AP or white bread flour does. If you're not kneading the dough for at least 20 minutes, you're probably not kneading it enough, which would then lead to the loaf not rising properly.

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fuzzychef, I have my recipe above. I do use a kitchen aid on stir to knead it. i will let it go for a longer time. have been kneading about 10minutes. would letting it rise till double cause the gluten strands to start tearing should i let only rise till 1 1/2 for the first rise? –  Lisa Oct 11 '11 at 12:28
    
is there a math formula to know if my recipe is out of balance? I am starting at the beginning and that's the recipe. then looking at every step in making this bread. thank you for your help, greatly appreciated. lisa –  Lisa Oct 11 '11 at 12:46

Whole wheat flour really doesn't behave the same as AP or Bread flour. If you are new to baking, I would strongly suggest doing a few practice batches using AP or Bread flour until you have your technique down, and have a good idea of what the dough is "supposed" to feel like when everything is right. After that, step up to 1/2 wheat flour and 1/2 white, and see how that behaves.

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just keep reducing the amount of AP till i have 100% whole wheat? but by using 100% WW flour wouldn't i need to add gluten to help it be more like a sandwich, fold in 1/2 with out breaking bread? sorry i don't know the correct terms to describe this...crumb? –  Lisa Oct 9 '11 at 23:45
    
eventually, yes, but a 100% WW bread is going to be very dense, and will not rise much. –  baka Oct 10 '11 at 0:22
    
I did have 2 loaves turn out perfectly only once. i do add vital wheat gluten to help with the rise, they rose to 2-3" above pan edge. I also, if i remember correctly, I to had add 1-2 cups extra flour, and kneaded it in my kitchen aid for a long time 20 + minutes on stir setting. I know humidity plays it's part in how much extra flour is needed. would converting this recipe to weights rather than cups help at all? –  Lisa Oct 10 '11 at 12:46
    
Thank you for your help, any help at this point is a blessing. –  Lisa Oct 10 '11 at 17:50
    
My fiancee was trying to do something similar to what you are (100% whole wheat), with the added complexity of sourdough. She had bought "Beard on Bread", and was trying a recipe from near the back of the book. Once she gave up and just tried to make a simple yeast-bread loaf, she got good results (positive feedback), and worked on a few different types of bread. Now, everything she makes is great, but she's got the experience in now to know what to expect from the dough. Yes, converting to weight/mass helped her baking quite a bit. –  baka Oct 10 '11 at 18:26

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