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Wholemeal Crank

Gummy whole wheat bread: troubleshooting for a better loaf

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I recently read about sprouted wheat flour in Peter Reinhart's Pizza Quest blog. That discussion led me to try making some sprouted wheat flour bread, after I sprouted some wheat, dried it, and milled it.

Then I made a simple flour/water/yeast/salt loaf with 90% hydration--as Peter suggested, the flour easily accepted this extreme hydration and remained intact and elastic. The dough was prepared in the food processor, with several breaks for the flour to hydrate before the final kneading; left to rise about an hour before retarding in the refrigerator for 3 days (unexpected work problems interfered with the original plan of holding the dough overnight only before rising/proofing/baking); then the dough was turned out, lightly kneaded and shaped into small round loaves, proofed in a 100° oven, and then baked. I am still lousy with a lame so it was essentially unslashed.

The problem? Despite cooking the bread to an internal temperature of 205 degrees, the crumb was damp, sticky, and gummy (though still quite tasty):

5667717207_5546ae73fe.jpg

and I recognize this is a common fault in my breads that long predates the experiment with the sprouted wheat flour.

I usually am working with fresh non-sprouted whole wheat flour, prepared in my impact mill a few minutes before I make the dough, prepare the dough in the food processor per the directions from Van Over's Best Bread Ever and many of them experience extended refrigeration between the first kneading and before shaping/proofing (not always intentionally).

I'm not sure where to look for the source of the faulty crumb: if the loaves are simply underbaked, does that suggest that these high-hydration whole wheat breads need to be brought to a higher internal temperature than white flour breads? Is the long-rise a likelier suspect? A problem common to freshly milled flour? Or is there some other systematic fault I should be investigating?

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My first step in trouble-shooting would be to see how commercial flours behave in these recipes: If loaves made with those came out without the gumminess, I'd suspect a higher moisture level in the freshly-milled flour, and ratchet back a bit on the hydration; even 5% might make a difference.

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Chad Robertson in Tartine Bread suggests an internal temperature of 212F and stresses the need for a darkly caramelized crust to ensure doneness. I wish I could put my finger on the passage in the book so I could quote his exact words but I know I was surprised to learn that internal temperature was only one indicator of doneness.

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I used to occasionally have very gummy sprouted wheat bread pan loaves in my bakery, The cause was over sprouting the wheat kernels to where they were producing enzymes with gluten weakening properties. This was especially likely in warm weather.

Try sprouting the kernels to a very short size, and tinse them well in several changes of cold water, drain well and use as desired.

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Aging and Bleaching

Any flour develops better baking qualities if allowed to rest for several weeks after milling. Freshly milled flour produces sticky doughs and products with less volume than those made with aged flour.

While aging, flour turns white through a natural oxidation process referred to as bleaching. Natural aging and bleaching are somewhat unpredictable, time-consuming processes, however, so chemicals are now used to do both. Potassium bromate and chlorine dioxide gas rapidly age flour. Chlorine dioxide and other chemicals bleach flour by removing yellow pigments in order to obtain a uniform white color. Bleaching destroys small amounts of the flour's naturally occurring vitamin E, which is replaced in fortified or enriched products.

http://www.victoriapacking.com/flourinfo.html

I would say mill your flour and then hold on to it for a couple week. see if that helps

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My first step in trouble-shooting would be to see how commercial flours behave in these recipes: If loaves made with those came out without the gumminess, I'd suspect a higher moisture level in the freshly-milled flour, and ratchet back a bit on the hydration; even 5% might make a difference.

This seems like an excellent first step that could cut down the possible culprits to qualities of my flour vs qualities of my dough preparation & baking. I'll start here!

Chad Robertson in Tartine Bread suggests an internal temperature of 212F and stresses the need for a darkly caramelized crust to ensure doneness.

I'm wondering if internal temps need to vary between different types of flours as well as between different types of loaves. It makes sense that different flour would hold onto water differently at different temperatures, and that it might not be as simple as x degrees means y amount of moisture left in the crumb. I should be able to test this fairly readily with my thermometer, some small loaves, and a little patience.

I used to occasionally have very gummy sprouted wheat bread pan loaves in my bakery, The cause was over sprouting the wheat kernels to where they were producing enzymes with gluten weakening properties. This was especially likely in warm weather.

Try sprouting the kernels to a very short size, and tinse them well in several changes of cold water, drain well and use as desired.

The gummy loaves were not simply a problem with sprouted flour, although it was more dramatic than I'm used to seeing. In this case, my first try with sprouting wheat before milling, I did not let the sprouts go quite as far as I usually do when I prepare the sprouted wheat apricot bread from Flatbreads and Flavors. Here they are just before I started to dry them

5608053152_c0604507a7.jpg

and after drying, before milling

5607646759_14aa6ab94d.jpg

Does that seem like I sprouted them too far?

Aging and Bleaching

Any flour develops better baking qualities if allowed to rest for several weeks after milling. Freshly milled flour produces sticky doughs and products with less volume than those made with aged flour.

I would say mill your flour and then hold on to it for a couple week. see if that helps

I remember reading someplace that very fresh flour started to undergo changes that rendered its baking properties worse for a time, but that if used immediately, those changes had not yet taken place, and it would actually make excellent dough. It's one of those things that I remember reading with great relief because it applied to my very specific situation--having perfectly fresh flour--but is also the sort of detail that is so rarely relevant to home bakers that few authors address it in home cookbooks. I should start with a review of my McGee, and a batch of commercial flour, that will certainly have aged a bit before it gets to me.

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How soon after baking did you cut it?

You ned to leave the bread at least an hour to cool and setup, otherwise it will be gummy.

I think enzyme activity is the problem. Try adding a pinch of vitamin C

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How soon after baking did you cut it?

In this case, I waited about an hour. But the problem is chronic and seen in loaves that go several days before use.

I think enzyme activity is the problem. Try adding a pinch of vitamin C

Do you think this would counteract the effect of the very fresh flour? I do have ascorbic acid on hand in the pantry, but do not often remember to use it.

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Yes, it oxidises an enzyme that degrades gluten in fresh flour.

Leaving the flour for a month or three before using oxidises the enzyme from the oxygen in the air.

The plant uses it to stop the gluten gumming up when trying to grow, so sprouting will generate lots of enzymatic changes.


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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"Sprouted wheat" is usually called "sprout-damaged-wheat" because, as it is, its pretty poor for breadmaking ...

BUT

grain that has been sprouted, and then roasted is usually called "malt".

You can't make bread from malt as the only flour.

A little malt goes a long way.

A very long way.

Too much malt produces (in Hamelman's words) "a gummy crumb" - which sounds familiar! (See page 364).

The very act of sprouting boosts Amylase enzyme content of the grain (and thus flour) many thousands of times.

You do want some, but not too much, Amylase.

And you get lots and lots of Amylase from Malted/Sprouted grain.

Longer fermentation would allow more enzyme (inc Amylase) activity - and thus a gummy crumb.

A long and slow fermentation of whole grain flour (rich in these enzymes) is thus courting this specific problem.

This thinking is one of the reasons for Reinhart's "2-pack-epoxy" technique, the subject of his "Whole Grain" book. In essence he is doing the enzymatic stuff in a seperate bowl to the leavening stuff, and only bringing them together for a quick final rise before baking.

See Page 41 of "Whole Grain Breads" for his discussion on "damaged" grains, malt, amylase and the "Falling Number" test.

So, nutshell upsum: long wholegrain fermentation can cause gummy crumb, and too much sprouted wheat WILL cause it. Put the two together and its an absolute certainty.

Its not clear what else may be done either in processing or milling the "sprouted wheat flour" that Reinhart speaks of.

It certainly sounds rather different to flour made from ordinary sprouted grain.

I was learning about sprout 'damage' in this 3-year-old thread

http://www.danlepard.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1829


Edited by dougal (log)

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Anna N raised an important point about the colour of the exterior of the loaf being an important indicator; the May & June 2011 (Number 110) issue of Cook's Illustrated (p. 31) discusses this, noting that for 'rustic' types of loaves, the internal temperature can go as high 210F/99C by the time it's done (and won't exceed the the boiling temperature of water), and that 'Internal temperatures is less useful than appearance as a sign of a well-baked loaf'; the colour should be a deep brown.

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No, those sprouts in the photo are quite short.

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Really, the sprouting can be barely visible, and still 'damaging' to bread quality.

Pictures here -> http://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/wheat-ble/factor-facteur/sptd-sevsptd/sptd-eng.htm

Story here -> http://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/fact-fait/sd-gg-eng.htm

(from the Canadian Grain Commission)

...

Germination begins when mature kernels absorb water and generate enzymes that break down stored starch and protein in the endosperm. The enzymes release sugars from starch and amino acids from proteins which nourish the growing embryo. One of these enzymes is called alpha-amylase. ....

Too much alpha-amylase activity causes wet, sticky dough that is hard to handle in a commercial bakery. The loaf may have large, open holes and the crumb texture is gummy. Gummy bread is difficult to slice and builds up on slicer blades. ...

One of the reasons for using long, retarded fermentation is to boost amylase activity, and one of the consequences is a darker, reddish-brown crust.

However, if you give it three days (retarded) fermentation, AND use whole-grain 'damaged' high amylase (sprouted) wheat grain, then a gummy crust looks like a very likely consequence.

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One of the reasons for using long, retarded fermentation is to boost amylase activity, and one of the consequences is a darker, reddish-brown crust.

However, if you give it three days (retarded) fermentation, AND use whole-grain 'damaged' high amylase (sprouted) wheat grain, then a gummy crust looks like a very likely consequence.

That may be the key point--combining flour that is 'green', from sprouted wheat, AND the long fermentation may be the perfect storm here. I have the same problem, generally to a lesser degree, with my usual bread made from fresh milled flour with long retardation.

It's time to do some experiments--I won't be doing the sprouted wheat again for a while, as it was very time and energy intensive, but perhaps one dough prepped from fresh milled flour and retarded a few hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, etc, to see if gumminess develops differently in them.

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