- July 21, 2008 at 12:34 pm #260181
If you are using whole wheat flour you will need to add vital gluten to
get a higher loaf that is less dense and more like “supermarket” bread.
You also need to be sure that you are not adding TOO much flour. This
is a much more common mistake than adding too little flour. Don’t be
afraid of oil. Oil your hands to knead the dough. This will keep it
from sticking to your hands. Be sure you knead long enough to activate
the gluten in the flour. The gluten is what makes the dough stretchy.
However, don’t overknead it either. If you are using an electric mixer
– like a Kitchenaid with a kneading hook, then set a timer while the
dough is being kneaded. This way you’ll keep track of the time and not
under or over knead. The dough should come away from the sides of the
mixer when kneading.
Another important step is to let the dough sponge – This means letting
it sit for 15 to 30 minutes or so at the beginning of the recipe. Add
your entire amount of water to the yeast. Add your sugar and about
1/3 of the entire amount of flour. I make 5 loaves at a time. That’s
15 cups of total flour. So, I add THREE cups of flour to the yeast,
water, and sugar (whether you use honey or regular sugar). Then walk
away for 15-30 minutes and let it sit. When you come back, complete
the rest of the recipe as usual. This step will increase the rise of
your loaf and give you better loaves that won’t crumble. It will slice
nicely for sandwiches.
Another idea is to weigh your dough before shaping it into loaves. I
don’t do this. But, a friend who has been making bread for 20 years
still weighs her dough. When she gets ready to shape each loaf after
the first rise, she takes an amount of dough from the whole batch and
weighs the ball of dough to be sure she is using the same amount of
dough for each loaf. She gets beautiful loaves that are very uniform
in size that way.
I’ve been grinding grain for several years and making all of our bread.
It took a few really dense loaves to begin to get the right mixture of
flour to water for the loaves to turn out right.
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