Attempt 4: Not Gnarly Whole Wheat Bread
16 May 2017
This time I was determined to use a higher proportion of whole wheat flour and get a good rise. Maybe having a more moist dough would do the trick? This experiment was going to be all about having a soft supple dough. My plan was to follow Chef John’s advice: don’t add all the flour at once. It is much easier to add flour to a sticky dough, than it is to add water to a gnarly dough.
I started with 1½ cups of whole wheat flour and only ½ cup of bread flour. I held another ½ cup of bread flour in reserve to be added as I mixed the dough. As an extra touch, I added some caraway seeds and dried rosemary that I bought recently. I skipped the butter. I skipped the milk, but made the mistake of not adding an equal quantity of water in its place. This meant that I did not have to use most of my extra ½ cup of bread flour. But never mind. I ended up with a soft and supple dough instead of a gnarly one… which I most definitely would have ended up with had I added all the flour at once.
After proofing overnight, I got a decent amount of rise. But my second proof in the loaf pan was a bit disappointing. The dough still did not go beyond half the height of the loaf pan. This time it was more airy, but I was working with less dough. I baked at a higher temperature of 400°F for 20 min. I also placed a ramekin full of water in the oven to keep the moisture level up.
I ended up with an airy and nice tasting, albeit flat loaf. Good separation from the pan on account of properly buttering the pan this time. (Or was it the ramekin with water?) The bread was still a bit dense. But the caraway seeds were simply amazing. I could not taste much of the rosemary, although it added a good smell. No yeast smell again, so I am keeping that technique.
The challenge for next time is how to get the loaf to rise while still keeping the bread healthy.