Baking with whole grain flour can be tricky. I am still learning all the time how to improve my 100 percent freshly ground wheat loaves. I want to share with you a whole grain baking tip when it comes to kneading times.
For the past year, I have been converting all of my bread recipes to 100 percent freshly milled flour. This has been a journey of learning and trial and error. Even though I have made some wonderful loaves of bread, I, until recently, haven’t had consistently good results.
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A couple of weeks ago, I decided to make my overnight, no knead sourdough sandwich bread https://therosehomestead.com/sourdough-sandwich-bread/ and used all freshly milled whole wheat. The next morning, I was disappointed to see that the dough didn’t look quite right. Even though I did everything the same, the results were not as great as I wanted. Of course the bread was delicious, but, I was hoping for a better rise and fluffier crumb.
I was kind of taken aback by the results and decided to back track and see if I could rectify this problem. After some trial and error, I was able to pinpoint the issue. I wasn’t kneading the dough long enough! I was kneading the dough per the recommendations for my mixer. However, what I have learned is, that though this time is appropriate for and all-purpose dough, it just wasn’t quite long enough for the whole grain dough.
I was kneading the whole grain dough for 6-8 minutes. But, what I have found is that if I knead until it passes the window pane test, it was more like 15 minutes or so. The window pane test is performed by pinching off a piece of dough and attempting to stretch it until you can see through it without it breaking.
I am not timing it anymore, I just knead until it passes the test. I know if I get to that point, the gluten is developed enough to have a good rise and fluffy crumb.
I mill all of my flour now and making all whole grain bread products. I’m actually excited to bake with my freshly milled flour because I know the results are consistent and turning out the way I expect them to!
This is the Grain Mill I use and have for years: https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=1962121&u=3324800&m=44804&urllink=&afftrack=
Why Whole Grains?
I have went into this subject in another blog post: https://therosehomestead.com/milling-your-own-grain-for-flour/
The short story is that store bought whole wheat flour can be rancid because when you mill wheat berries all of the oils and all parts of the grain are in the flour which are components that will go bad rather quickly.
All-Purpose flour is “dead”. All of the good components have been removed. Therefore, there aren’t any great health benefits from using it.
In my kitchen, my goal is to prepare the healthiest food with the healthiest ingredients. Milling my flour fresh before baking ensures that the bread I prepare is the most nutritious bread we can have.
The good news is, whole grain sourdough bread is not only nutritious, but, much more delicious! When you use all-purpose flour, you miss out on the nutty flavor of the whole grains as well as the health benefits of the whole grain.
When baking with whole grains, it is very important to knead the dough long enough to develop the gluten and for the dough to pass the window pane test.
This can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on the mixer you use or if you are kneading by hand.
I sincerely hope this post will help you on your whole grain sourdough baking journey!
See you soon! Happy Baking!