Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sprouted Wheat Bread Troubleshooting part 2

In case you missed the whole story on Sprouted Wheat bread...visit the original tutorial:  Sprouted Wheat bread tutorial

The saga continues. Sprouted bread questions and answers. Starting with one of my lifelong friends. Shellee's recent problem, among other things... "My sprouts smell like stinky socks". My answer to that...you need to wash your socks more. Head shake. Sprouts I mean. Rinse them a lot more and make sure they are in a colander out of the water and drained. Don't put them in a sealed container when sprouting, just cover them with a damp cloth...unless you are rinsing them 4-5 times a day.

Some more questions on sprouted bread done with a meat grinder (food processor doesn't require additional kneading but the meat grinder will!)

Angela from Adventures in Self Reliance . Here is what she wrote...

."Hi Tess, I tried the bread again, running it through the grinder 2 times, and the texture was better, it raised better, I buttered the top so it browned and looked nice, but the inside was still kind of gummy. Not so bad that we’re feeding it to the dog this time, but still not bread texture. So here’s my question now—are you using red or white wheat? I’m using white—would that make a difference? I’m running out of ideas as to why it does this to me. The only other things I can think of are altitude, humidity, etc, but can’t see those having that much effect on the finished product."

Here's my response...though I've added a little more to this post than her email response as I've thought about it:
"It sounds like you are making progress! That's a relief! It took me about 5 batches before I felt like it was a real bread texture. It is definitely an art. Don't give up. It sounds like you are getting close. Bread is actually very affected by the altitude, as well as the temperatures throughout the dough making process.

What temperature is your dough when it is rising? It needs to be right around 85-90 degrees in the dough (which you can measure with a meat thermometer or just poke with your finger) and it shouldn't feel cool at all. Like a baby bottle. If it is cold in your home (under 75 degrees) that will affect the rising time (usually adds about an hour if it's under 70 degrees). This temperature will give the yeast an opportunity to work it's magic on the gluten strands. They will become more elastic, stronger, and give your bread a better texture. Strong gluten will hold the carbon dioxide produced during the raising, adding a light texture that you want. I have been known to put the dough in the fridge for the duration of the raise because I really want that yeast to go through a long full fermentation process. It just gives you better bread.

However if you don't want to wait for the longer fermentation...I would add 2 tsp more yeast if you are under 2000 feet. It is okay to add a little more yeast, but don't go crazy. I would much rather have the yeast get more time to work on the gluten, than have a shorter raise from more yeast. Plus, adding too much more yeast will give your bread a very strong "yeasty" flavor.

I am using hard white wheat, which will also have a bearing. If you have soft wheat, you will need hard wheat (red or white both work...I prefer white for the flavor), which has a higher protein content--the only flour I recommend for bread. As for humidity, it won't have much of a bearing, except in flour storage. Not a factor here. So, my suggestions are add 2 tsp more yeast, and check your temperatures when the dough is rising. If the texture of the bread dough is right that is the first huge step. I am certain that the twice though with the fine blade attachment on the Kitchen Aid is perfect.

Also, are you kneading it at all after your grind it, or are you just putting it into a ball and letting it raise? It does require about 5 minutes of vigorous hand kneading - or 5-7 minutes speed 2 in your kitchen-aid. I use a little water on the counter but you CAN add a little flour if you want. I'm not 100% against it at all. The kneading will help develop proper gluten that will help the dough to rise and hold the air as it rises. This is very important. Another option...It is also possible to use the 3 cups of wheat (single loaf recipe). Sprout and grind it as usual. Then add 3 cups whole wheat bread flour 1 1/2 cups water and same amount of yeast and honey as for the 2 loaf batch, then knead it. It will be lighter but also get all that great texture from the whole grains. Keep going. I know you will find your niche!"

Photo help...

This is sprouted wheat 100%...no added flour. The dough will be very moist!

When kneaded correctly, there will appear to be a wad of hair or something in the bowl. Don't panic...it's not your cat! (Ummm...better look for her just in case...) Those strings are GOOD! That is the gluten developed correctly! See the strings? It's like a really good orchestra! It's just not so good without the strings! It can still make music, but won't raise your spirits as much. Cool?

Again, this is a very moist dough. Without added fat it will need to be moist at this point, or the bread will get very dry after a couple of days on the counter. If however, it still seems like it is very wet...don't add any water at all to the sprouts! Just the yeast, honey and salt. This could be a problem caused by putting sprouts through the meat grinder that aren't completely drained. Make sure there isn't a lot of added water that you aren't expecting or your dough will be tooo wet.

Forming the dough into a ball and covering it before the first raise, it will look like this:
(I did grind up some raisins in there, so you may not have the same dark flecks.)

Check the temperature too. If it's hotter than 90 degrees, chill it for about 20 minutes. Again, this will give the yeast a good long amount of time to work it's magic on the gluten.

This is what the dough looked like after 1 and 1/2 hours at 85 degrees internal temperature. The gluten will be getting really strong. I punched it down and rounded it:

It looks really white huh?! That is the gluten all stretched out. It will look white with some chunks of bran and maybe an occasional grain of wheat artistically placed on the surface. Actually that little wheat guy jumped out on it's own! Again, there is NO flour in this dough. The white is the protein in the wheat called gluten.

So the assignment is to try it again. Getting the grind right and the kneading right will make a huge difference. Hopefully that will give a lot of you some troubleshooting answers!

There you go. Please feel free to ask any more questions and I will do my best to put up answers for you. I love your adventurous spirits!


Goob said...

oh wow, yeah, when I tried making this, my dough did not look like that AT ALL! And we ended up tossing the bread because it was more like hockey-pucks than bread.

Chef Tess said...

Did you meat grinder it or food processor it? The advantage of living close is that you can have one on one coaching, or come over the next time I make it. Let me know! I'd love to help.

Angela said...

Thanks for the pictures! I have been using hard white wheat, so will continue trying with that. I have only been making one loaf at a time, and it does not have the good gluten strands when the kitchenaid is done kneading it--maybe the smaller volume? The dough hook doesn't catch it well, it just smashes it against the side of the bowl and I have to keep pushing it back in to the middle of the bowl with a spatula. Doesn't really want to cling together, so maybe this time I'll hand knead it. Wheat's soaking tonight. We'll see what I can do with it on Thursday.

We also live at high altitude (approx 6000 ft), and keep the house fairly cool, although I've been letting the dough raise in the oven (warmed then off, but it probably only stays warm through part of the first raise).

The survival bread is way easier than this bread! :)

Chef Tess said...

Okay! We may have a winner on the trouble shooting then! This is a 3 cup single loaf batch for these pictures and I had to do exactly what you did. I turned the machine off 4 or 5 times and kept pushing it up to where the hook could reach it. Also...on the 6000 feet. Yikes. You're really high up there! That altitude, you will want to crank up the oven to 425 for the first 15-20 minutes. Then lower to 350 degrees for the duration (until 175 degrees inside the loaf). What that will do, is get the yeast good and active, let the bread rise, and then kill the yeast but set that nice shape. High altitude it is easy on the 350 degrees for those gluten strands to stretch too far because of the continued yeast action. That stretching would eventually snap the gluten before it has a chance to set and not give you a good internal structure. This explains the squatty loaves as well. Keep going! Oye' I am totally making those survival bars too! It's time to update my 72 hour kit!

Chef Tess said...

Further note on high altitude...the air is much lighter where you are. Once you have this dough down, you are going to love how light it can get in your oven. Hang in there.