Originally Posted by coconut
@ Thread Subscribers: Okay here it goes...I'm stepping up to multi grain bread right away. My yeast's (feischmann's and safeway brand instant yeast) are very powerful. Siduri, the temperature you recomended works well and I have a good fermentation. Here come's the scary part...waiting... lol I prepared three different batches, two of them identical, because I was facing a problem with gluten formation. The gluten formation wasn't very strong so I attempted countering the weak gluten by mixing 150 ml of All-Purpose Flour into 250 ml multi-grain. It seem's to me it doesn't make much of a difference adding all purpose flour to strengthen the gluten. I used the straight dough method for the dough, 'polished' the dough, and let it rise. It grew alright, hours later it has a crusty skin on the dough, and it stopped rising at the top of the bread pan.
Some things you should know about whole wheat bread. First of all wheat has gluten, but other flours have very little, so you need to make sure there is plenty of wheat.
I've made 100% whole wheat bread for years, not artisan bread (though i made that too) but soft american style bread, with some milk or buttermilk and butter and some form of sugar (sugar, molasses, honey, malt syrup), because i can't find that here and i love it for breakfast and because my kids liked it for snacks and i wanted to be sure they got some whole grains in their diet.
I got a book that is NOT by a professional baker but by a home baker who put her intelligence to use as a "housewife" and researched very thoroughly the process of making bread. Her bibliography is worthy of a phd dissertation. The book is exceptional because it is VERY realistic for a home baker. No doubt will be looked on with disdain by some professionals, but they;re baking in a professional kitchen. It's called Laurel's bread book. The fact that it's written by a non-professional makes it more suited for home use. And i guarantee the recipes work. She has a mission to make stuff 100% whole grain and also to make it good. And she succeeds.
Anyway these tricks allowed me to make 100% (no addition of any white flour or gluten or any other thing) whole wheat bread with a soft crumb and high rise that had NO brick-like qualities.
1. coddle your gluten. You will have less gluten in whole wheat flour (because part of the volume is taken up by non-gluten elements like bran and germ) and i think even the flakes of bran of whole grain flour probably cut up the gluten a little too, though this is my own intuition speaking. Anyway, no punching down dough. You need to knead well, long enough for that satiny surface feeling to emerge, which is the gluten, and to feel the elasticity (you press on it and you feel it wanting to come back into a ball).
A. then you make sure the surface that was on the bottom (the "skin" - where the sheets of gluten are all rounded and can hold in the air produced by the yeast) is on the top.
B. Never break that "skin"
C. When you go for the second rise, if you do, you would normally be told to "punch down" the dough. NO. Just gently detach the dough from the walls of the bowl, so air escapes, and press it down (gently) till it's squashed out all the air.
D Always let it rise with some protection from the dry air - i turn a plastic shopping bag over the bowl, but you can use a damp dishtowel (not touching the dough but over the bowl), plastic wrap, etc.
2. If you add butter to your recipe, add it AFTER having kneaded, add it in small slivers and knead them in, and add it unmelted. It will NOT make your dough heavy, but actually will make it lighter and rise higher. (she says it greases the gluten, which may not be scientific terminology, but it makes sense. But you have to produce the gluten first.) You can actually add quite a bit of butter this way, and it's the technique used for brioche, at least according to julia child.
3. After the second rise, when you're about to form the loaf, take the ball of dough out of the bowl and turn upside down (the "skin" is always worked face down on the board, always left to rise face up)
A. Flatten it gently, then pull in a part of the outside inwards toward the center, then do the same to the adjacent part, overlapping with the first flap, and so on all around sort of like a flower folding in. Turn it over and let rest ten minutes under a cloth.
B. Turn the skin down again and flatten with your hands. NEVER STRETCH, JUST PRESS the dough - no tearing. form it in a loaf making sure it's all curled up so the skin covers all - fold down the top half to the center, fold in the two sides slightly and then froll it up from the top and press to seal, and turn over and put in greased pan.
With these techniques you can make high rising whole wheat bread without any other addition of gluten or white flour. I prefer the half-sifted whole wheat flour (where the larger flakes of bran are sifted out)- it's still brown but hasn't got that sawdusty aspect to it, it's finely ground. but i've also done it with the regular unsifted flour and it works too.
If you want more grains in there, make sure they don't exceed a fourth of the whole if you want a good rise. half a cup out of two cups works, and does give a different flavor. Or you can add more, but it will not rise as high.