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Old 02-23-2011, 11:12 AM   #1
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The Bread Saga - Part II

So most of you are familiar with my adventures in bread baking chronicled here: Just plain bread?

Yesterday I made my 4th set of homemade loaves. I think the guys who advised me to refrigerate the yeast were right, however by the time that came up the yeast I'd been using was open for 3 weeks and *not* refrigerated. I decided to keep it as I had been, in a sealed bag in the cabinet, just to see (instead of wasting it). But in case of emergency, I have a new bag of yeast, yet unopened and destined for the fridge, sitting on the shelf.

This 4th attempt yielded (for the first time) wheat bread....sorta. I finally found a place in town where I can buy wheat flour. Although what we consider to be wheat flour is not quite the same as what they appear to use. It's somewhere between what I would call "wheat" and white. Still....wheat flour, here we go.

This was a double gamble. Yeast that hasn't been stored in the fridge as advised, and sort-of wheat flour instead of white. I used the same recipe I've been using for the white bread, because it's been working for me.

Not sure if it's the yeast or the possibility that I needed to follow a different recipe for the wheat. It wasn't a failure, it wasn't nearly as dense as the first attempt I made, but it wasn't as fluffy as the last 2 batches either.

I think I'll save my next batch of wheat flour for the new bag of yeast to see if it makes a difference. Either way, it's still tasty. Hubby broke some out tonight to make a sandwich after the Chicken Cilantro Disaster. The first loaf is almost gone already.

The yeast appears to still be working, I'll hang on to it until it's either dead or gone.

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Old 02-23-2011, 11:39 AM   #2
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First I am assuming you mean whole wheat flour.

So whole wheat flour absorbs more water than white flour does. But it does it slow. Couple of ideas to think about. Add more water. As I started to make a mix of flours for my bread Kathleen kept asking if I could make the bread less dry (like it was my goal to make it dry). I kept upping the water, slowly. I am at 70% hydration for the white whole wheat bread now. I use a 70/30 mix white to white whole wheat flours.

You can also give the flour time to absorb some the water. Mix the flour and water a bit, kinda leave it shaggy. Let it sit for 30 - 45 minutes. Add your other stuff and then mix and knead. Don't add the salt during the first mix if you do this.
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Old 02-24-2011, 02:22 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankZ View Post
First I am assuming you mean whole wheat flour.
I'm assuming, too, because I don't actually know. All I know is I asked somewhere if they know where I can buy wheat flour, she said "the market" and one day brought me 2 bags ground at the market, totaling about a dollar and yielding around 8 cups of flour.

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So whole wheat flour absorbs more water than white flour does. But it does it slow. Couple of ideas to think about. Add more water.
That makes a lot of sense and explains a bit about what happened. The mix was a lot more liquid than my previous mixes had been going into the 2nd rise, I was worried that the yeast wasn't working or something like that. I ended up adding a little more yeast and a little extra oil, didn't think of adding more water. Anyway I let it sit long enough and it rose as expected, but never got to the same consistency as my successful white loaves going into the 3rd and final rise. Next time I use the wheat flour I'll try more water and see if that helps.

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As I started to make a mix of flours for my bread Kathleen kept asking if I could make the bread less dry (like it was my goal to make it dry).


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Originally Posted by FrankZ View Post
I kept upping the water, slowly. I am at 70% hydration for the white whole wheat bread now. I use a 70/30 mix white to white whole wheat flours.

You can also give the flour time to absorb some the water. Mix the flour and water a bit, kinda leave it shaggy. Let it sit for 30 - 45 minutes. Add your other stuff and then mix and knead. Don't add the salt during the first mix if you do this.
Very good tips! Thank you! I think it was all "working" the way it was supposed to work, and if I'd had your tips in play it would've come out just right. I'll report back on the progress next time I try it with the wheat flour.
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Old 02-24-2011, 03:13 AM   #4
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Salt kills yeast, put them on opposite sides of your flour before mixing and follow the very good advice in the previous posts, also check that the flour you are using has not had calcium added.
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Old 02-24-2011, 03:37 AM   #5
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Quote:
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Salt kills yeast, put them on opposite sides of your flour before mixing and follow the very good advice in the previous posts, also check that the flour you are using has not had calcium added.
I don't think it would be on the flour I was using in this batch because it was freshly ground at the market, but I'll check any other flour I buy.
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Old 02-24-2011, 03:40 AM   #6
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Just a side note about the yeast part of it....

Here's what I've been doing: The recipe I use just lists off the dry ingredients plus hot water, plus yeast plus oil and says to mix it all up. What I've been doing is mixing the yeast in the hot water in a separate container, mixing the other dry ingredients, adding the water-yeast mixture, stirring then adding the oil. Could that be part of my problem? Should I use a different technique?
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Old 02-24-2011, 10:42 AM   #7
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My grandmother always proofed her yeast by putting it in warm (not HOT) water, sprinkled the yeast and then about 1 tsp of sugar on top and let it sit until it was double. I recall 1/4 c water to 1 package of yeast, but that would be good-ol US packages of yeast. Sugar helps activate the yeast, whereas salt kills it. When I put the dry ingredients in my bread machine, I put the salt in first, then the flour, then the sugar, then the yeast.
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Old 02-24-2011, 11:29 AM   #8
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The water may be too hot. While yeast can be tough little critters, if the water is slightly too hot you could be killing off the weaker ones. You want water about 100-110F. This should feel warm, not hot.

A quick explanation on my process:

I weigh everything. Once I have the amount of yeast, total sugar and water I put a cup of water into the microwave to heat it. I know 1 cup, 50 seconds, and my microwave hits the sweet spot.

I proof using the yeast, half cup of water and 8g of the sugar. The rest of the water I heated just goes back in my big cup that I weighed.

I mix the dry stuff in the mixer bowl while the yeast proofs (the rest of the sugar, salt, flours, dry milk).

Once the yeast is proofed it and the rest of the water goes in the bowl with the oil.

Set the mixer to slow and let it mix for a minute (so I don't get a dust cloud) and the up to the dough setting.

By the time the yeast is in with the salt the salt is fairly well mixed through the rest of the dry stuff so it should be an issue.

One other thing to keep in mind. Because whole wheat flour absorbs water slower it also develops the gluten slower. Salt hardens gluten (this is needed but it also is in your way). More gluten means the bread has better structure to rise.

I do notice when I add whole wheat flour my bread doesn't rise as fast or get as fluffy. I think I might play with the process a bit and do a quick mix, let it sit for a while, then add the salt and finish the mixing kneading and see how that goes.
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Old 02-25-2011, 05:19 AM   #9
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Okay, can one of you explain to me exactly what "proofing the yeast" means? I assume it's some sort of test, just not sure how it works.
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Old 02-25-2011, 05:57 AM   #10
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Proofing is the time we wait while activating the yeast in warm water with sugar or honey. Powdered yeast, unless it's old, is not dead, just dormant. A small amount of warm water (1/2 cup or so for most purposes) plus yeast food (sugars) awakens it and immediately begins to reproduce, doubling about once every hour. A foam will develop on top of the warm water indicating that the yeast is alive and active. If it doesn't foam within an hour, throw it away and buy some fresh yeast.

Proofing also refers to the wait time during the rising(s) of the loaf before baking.
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