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I am trying to make a loaf of whole wheat bread (70% AP whole grain, 30% white bread flour) with approximately 70% hydration.

Here is the full list of ingredients I used:

  • 530g flour
  • 360g water
  • 5g diastatic malt powder
  • 10g kosher salt
  • 5.3g instant dry yeast
  • 60g honey
  • About 2tbsp (I didn’t measure) avocado oil

I started with an autolyse for two hours (meant to do only one but got side tracked) using all the flour, the malt powder, and 330g water. I then split the honey and remaining water into two bowls and put the salt in one and the yeast in the other. Stirred them both to dissolve and then added the salt mixture to the autolysed dough and squeezed it in for a bit, then did the same with the yeast mixture. I then poured approximately 2tbsp of oil into a clean Cambro and dropped the dough in to rest for a while.

The dough ball was very messy and sticky and had what seemed like pockets of firm (but not dry) dough that won’t seem to incorporate even after trying to rest it and fold every 45 mins. The autolyse was fairly dry but also fairly cohesive and had a lot of gluten. I expected the newly mixed dough to be a mess at first but it doesn’t seem to want to come back together. I only tried to fold it 3 times before I put it in the fridge overnight.

I’ll check again in the morning but I’m wondering if I did something wrong here. I’m fairly new to bread baking but I’ve been watching a lot of videos from chain baker on YouTube so I have a decent understanding of the basics.

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    Sound like you didn't mix it well at the autolysis stage.
    – bob1
    Commented Mar 6 at 3:54
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    I would note, incidentally, that your recipe and approach are awfully complicated. Since you're fairly new to actually physically personally baking bread, you might want to stick to the dead-simple traditional approach (four ingredients, one bowl, knead, two or three rises, bake) and then later go for the enzymes and whatnot once you have experience with the simple kind.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Mar 6 at 8:45

3 Answers 3

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The hard clumps in your dough are there because you didn't evenly mix the water into your dough before you let it autolyse. No knead doesn't mean no mix, you can't just dump everything in a bowl and let it sit. The malt is going to get partially hydrated and clump up if you do. Be sure to thoroughly mix the dry ingredients before adding moisture, then make sure it's evenly incorporated.

I would also suggest that you modify your method, as you are autolysing with a pretty dry mix and won't get the benefit. It's also overly complex and less likely to give you a good result. Salt retards yeast, so mixing in the salt and then adding the yeast last is backwards. If you aren't kneading the yeast isn't going to get thoroughly incorporated if you add it last with a little water. Try this instead:

First, mix the dry ingredients, with yeast and honey but without the salt and reserving about 100ml of water. Add all but 100ml of water, and mix well, then let it stand for 30 minutes at room temperature, covered. You'll find at that point that a good deal of gluten development has already happened. At this point mix the salt with the remaining water until fully dissolved, then work it in to the dough. After that periodically turn and fold until you feel it get tight.

A few pointers:

  1. Use easy bake, aka instant yeast, as you can mix it in directly with the flour instead of the water. I suggest getting some successful loaves done before you start using fancier yeasts
  2. Weigh the water using a scale, instead of the visual lines on a cup. It's far more accurate
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IME the most likely cause of small firm lumps in dough is inadequately dissolved or distributed salt. I didn’t fully follow what you were doing with all those bowls and mixtures, but the most reliable way of distributing salt throughout is to mix fine-gained salt with the flour, or to fully dissolve it in the water you initially mix with the flour.

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  • You can add salt wet later. I do in my sourdough (autolyse, add starter, add salt + more water and soaked seeds, with about an hour between steps). But you have to add it in plenty of water and incorporate it well. I use a stand mixer up to that point, only switching to stretch and fold after it's come back together and rested. Of course the slowness of sourdough gives time for the salt to diffuse
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 6 at 8:37
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Make sure you buy bread flour. Also, it takes several times failing to get good at bread making. Its trial and error. Also, unless you have a great machine, your probably not kneading it long enough...20 mins atleast to knead bread by hand. Hope this helps.

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  • I’m not even trying to knead. I thought it was clear from the context that I’m using a no knead method
    – Mirrana
    Commented Mar 6 at 4:41

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