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
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.
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.
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.