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Old 08-25-2006, 06:35 PM   #1
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Whole Wheat Flour

I was wondering, does anybody have any experience working with bread made entirely from whole wheat flour?

I made some french bread with whole wheat flour, and for some reason the gluten network refused to form. I seriously kneaded it for 45 minutes. After the first few minutes, I tested the the dough with the window pane test, but it wasn't good enough and still tore, so I kneaded for another 10 minutes, and this continued until the membrane sort of formed, and given that 45 minutes had gone by, I decided to just let it ferment and see what happened after the bake.

My recipe was,

Sponge
2 C. Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 C. Water
1/2 Tsp. Yeast

Dough
Sponge
2 C. Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tsp. Yeast
1 Tsp. Salt

The sponge fermented for 22 hours before I used it, and the dough I let ferment in the fridge overnight, 11 hours I think.

So mainly my question is, is the gluten in whole wheat flour harder to develop then in regular white bread flour? How do you knead your dough?

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Old 08-25-2006, 06:48 PM   #2
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Using all whole wheat is a problem as you have found. You need to use some AP or bread flour so your dough wiil develop gluten and rise properly.
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Old 08-25-2006, 11:53 PM   #3
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I tried to make a whole wheat crust pizza, didn't work out to well. Reason being, whle wheat flour is heavy and grainy. It is far superior for health reasons, so I recommend you not be discouraged. Maybe sift through it a couple times, as well as the advice from the previous post.
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Old 08-26-2006, 03:05 AM   #4
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You are both right and wrong. French bread does not work out well made with the kind of whole wheat flour we have here in US. In France, theirs is different, and works well. They call it Pain Complet!

I make 100% whole wheat bread often, and it's delicious. but it's not French bread. I use a bit of oil and molasses. rises just fine, and has great crumb for sandwiches.

also, I've been making whole wheat pizza crust for years. We love it. You always have to knead 100% whole wheat dough significantly longer, and it may require more liquid. It took me lots of experimentation to get it together, but I think it was worth it!

PM me if you want recipes.
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Old 08-26-2006, 08:59 AM   #5
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I have about 35 years experience working with whole wheat flour. From a nutritional standpoint, white flour is not an option for me, all the good stuff has been taken out, and what was put back in can not be utilized by the body, IMO. And my whole wheat bread experinces had evolved. I started making ww bread by hand, 3 loaves at a time, as I remember a book called something like, The Tasahara Bread Book was my bible. Then I worked at a bakery and got hooked on their bread. Then I got a bread machine and I have never looked back, I can make wonderful bread in it. Don't need the therapy of hand kneading any more and my hands don't work as well as they used to.

So now I use the recipe that came with my bread machine. For one loaf, it calls for 5 cups of whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup of Vital Wheat Gluten. I use the Vital Wheat Gluten every time, think it is key to the perfect texture I get. I end up running the knead cycle twice, for a total of 22 minutes, it takes me a bit to get the consistency of the dough perfect. I usually only make whole wheat bread, and slice it a day after it is baked, then store it in the freezer.
I made pizza crust with 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, one cup semilona flour and one cup unbleached white flour. The pizza crust just comes out much nicer with that little bit of white flour.

I use King Arthur Whole wheat flour, it's a really nice classic red winter wheat.
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Old 08-26-2006, 09:01 AM   #6
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batter breads (mixed and poured, not kneeded) work well, but you will not be able to work the gluten the same way you do with white or unbleached flour I don't believe. Irish soda breads works well with whole wheat flour, as does salt rising bread. But I will refer you to the Bread Bible...great book for bread bakers, of whose company I am not yet even a novice.
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Old 08-26-2006, 09:50 AM   #7
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I have a similar "Problem" as the OP, I grow my own wheat on a little 3x3 metre patch and process the lot by hand with the help of a few generous gusts of wind.
I grind this in a coffee grinder and pass trough a tea strainer until I have a good 2 cupfulls of the flour.

what I have noticed it that you Will need extra water, as the flour grains are much larger in mesh size than comercial and so it takes a while to absorb this water, the initial mix actualy looks too wet at first.
like one of the other posters here I also seemed to have much better bread using a bread maker, and by hand it`s almost a Cake like loaf rather than a bread (and you don`t need many slices to fill you up either! :) )

there Are gluten substitutes you can buy if you can`t get gluten on its own, Xantan gum can be used, and you only need a small amount, perhaps this may help you a little?
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Old 08-26-2006, 06:00 PM   #8
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hm. Thanks for all the tips. It seems like the best idea for me is to go back to mixing the whole wheat flour with the white flour. I'm not sure if I want to delve into the intricacies of adding gluten and other things into my bread.
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Old 08-26-2006, 06:09 PM   #9
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Chaus, you don't need gluten and you don't need to grind your own wheat to make good 100% whole wheat bread. I get great crumb without any extras. Just stone ground whole wheat flour.

I don't like most of what comes from the supermarket labeled "whole wheat flour." It is overmilled, imo, and "dusty." You can order great quality flour from Bobsredmill.com if you don't have a farmers market near you that sells flour.
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Old 08-28-2006, 02:24 AM   #10
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I try to get King Arthur's brand white bread flour. Its the first type of bread flour I ever worked with, and I liked the result. On this particular occasion, I had run out of bread flour, so I ran out to the local grocery store to get more, but alas, there was no King Arthur brand bread flour to be had, so I grabbed a bag of suspiciously unmarked flour which turned out to be all purpose flour, and a bag of whole wheat flour (for experimental purposes, and i like whole wheat flour anyway).

That first attempt created a dough that didn't allow me to form the stretch membrane you need when you're make the boule shape for the dough to rise. Whenever I shaped it in that way, it would tear at the peak of the ball, so I did what I could for it and let it rise.

Anyway, this time I'm gonna mix the whole wheat flour with the white bread flour. Half of each. The sponge will be half of each and the additional flour will be half of each too. Do you think this is too much? Or will that 1:1 ratio work out?

I'll find out for sure tomorrow ne way, but its nice to get peope's opinions.
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