Bread Baking S.O.S.

Help me.

I have tried many times to bake whole wheat bread. I’ve used recipes from the bag of whole wheat flour and from the internet. I seem to churn out whole wheat BRICKS instead of bread.

I gave up on the whole bread baking deal for a few years, then when I went grocery shopping last week, I
was shocked and disgusted with the price of a 12 inch Boboli pizza crust- 3.50!?!?!?!?!?!? So I bought a container of active dry yeast and made pizza dough myself. I used this recipe from Cooking Light and it turned out fine. BUT it was WHITE flour.

So I decided to try baking whole wheat bread again. I used the KitchenAid Mixer’s recipe for whole wheat bread- 5-6 cups of flour, 4.5 tsps yeast, 2 c warm water, 1/3 cup brown sugar, a lil salt, 1/3 c oil… you get the idea.

Things were looking pretty good. I let the dough rise in my oven, which I turned on and then off, to get that “magic” but elusive 85 degrees.

I punched the dough down, shaped into loaves (one was a little bigger than the other, whoops) and let them rise again.

Then I baked them according to the instructions- 15 minutes at 400 and then 30 minutes at 350.

This is what happened. A wrinkly crust and a very dense loaf.

I troubleshooted on and my problem (or at least one of them) is that I let the dough rise at too warm of a temperature.

OK Guilty. I kept the temp at about 100- 120 by turning the oven on to 200, then letting it get to 130, then turning it off. A hundred times. But I was afraid it wouldn’t rise at all! And I don’t know where I am supposed to get an area of my house 85 degrees. It’s NEVER 85 degrees here except in the summer. And it ain’t summer yet.

On top of it all, I was completely exhausted from the bread baking fiasco yesterday. I kept running up and down the stairs to peek on the bread and the sheer anticipation of success or failure sapped my strength. My husband, the ever positive encourager, even quietly suggested that maybe I should give up whole wheat bread dream. He reasoned that perhaps we don’t have the right equipment, like a brick fired oven or something. It’s only 3.69 to buy it at the store and that may be worth it.

What do I do? How can I fix this? I just want to make homemade whole wheat bread that is yummy and good and healthy and all that jazz.

Bread bakers of the blogosphere, please rescue me. I’m sending out an S.O.S.


10 responses to “Bread Baking S.O.S.

  1. Keep your chin up – whole wheat bread is always tasty, but sometimes tough to make without baking bricks heavier than you can lift! One of the tricks my family has always used is to mix both white and whole wheat flour.

    This is a many-times-modified version of my great-grandmother’s recipe (which called for lard, among other things!). It’s lactose-free, but I have a milk version of it somewhere too if you would like.

    1 cup soymilk
    1/2 cup water
    1+ T yeast
    2 T olive oil
    1 T sugar
    1 t salt

    Combine the wet ingredients (above), then work in:
    1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
    2 c unbleached white flour

    Mix until combined, then cover with a damp dish cloth and let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes. If you need to add a little flour at this point to get the dough free from the pan, go ahead. Form into loaves, and – if you have the time – let rise again, covered with the cloth, in the loaf pans. (I usually let my dough rise once, and sit it on top of the preheating oven. It’s imprecise, but it works.)

    Bake at 325 for about 35 minutes. Turn the loaves out onto a wire rack to cool. Make sure you don’t cut into the loaves until they’re totally cool…though it’s hard to resist the temptation!!

  2. I wish I could offer help on this, but I am definitely not skilled in the kitchen. I hope someone is able to post some help for you!

    I’m sorry to hear about your disappointment with the marathon, but sometimes it is good to back off a little. As of this point in time, I’m not going to try to do the century this fall either. My heart isn’t in it, and it’s a lot of training for something you’re not excited about. Oh well.

  3. My mother’s home made wheat bread was chewy, everyone of mine has been too. Are you over working it? Sometimes that makes it hard. I agree that mixing white and wheat makes a great bread. Wheat germ is a great additive too, makes it more flavorful without being chewy. I use the Joy of Cooking old version for my recipe, but it’s been a long while!!

  4. I would say make it by hand, not mixer. But that is just me. Oh, drop by my blog if you have a minute. I finally have a pic of my cute doggie (dated 5-7). Blessings!

  5. I’m not a huge bread maker, but two things… I do like fresher yeast than what you can usually get at the supermarket. Try the local health food store, they usually sell it in bulk and WAY cheaper than the supermkt. The other thing, from my friend who is an amazing baker, is that she is a fan of the long/slow rise. Bread making spans a long time, though your attention to it should not. My pal’s a fan of ‘Home Baking’ by Alford and Duguid, look for it at a library… they do the slow rise with their bread.

  6. OK, you have some good advice here. I would like to add that it’s very important that you develop the gluten enough. Or knead it enough, in other words. To test for this, do the windowpane test. Take a golf-ball sized piece of dough after you have kneaded it the recommended amount of time. Stretch it very gently, trying to get the dough thin enough to see light through. If it rips, i9t isn’t kneaded enough. If you get a nice thin “window” of dough that doesn’t rip, then it truly is “smooth and elastic” and has been kneaded enough. The point here is that if the gluten isn’t properly developed, the dough can’t support all of the gas bubbles that the yeast produces during the rise, and it collapses during baking.

    Also, try just turning the light on in the oven and letting it rise in there. That’s plenty warm enough. And, visit The Fresh Loaf website for lots of great recipes and advice! =0)

  7. And, I always use my mixer to mix and knead the bread dough! I used to have a KA, now I have a Viking. The dough hook is the best invention ever.

    (And sorry about the typo above–I clicked before I proofed.)

  8. KitchenAid is a home appliance brand owned by Whirlpool Corporation. The company was started in 1919 by The Hobart Corporation to give restaurants

  9. Pingback: Tortilla madness « Life in abundance…

  10. Pingback: Bread Baking semi-S.O.S. « Life in abundance…

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