|After an hour of sponging/rising time|
After a few years of using Montana Wheat's Prairie Gold hard white wheat for milling, then baking my bread, with good success, I was having problems. Using my tried-and-true techniques and recipe, the dough wasn't developing the usual good, smooth, stretchy texture, and the loaves weren't rising well. The bread itself was crumbly.
The dough was getting overly warm while kneading in the mixer, and I thought maybe the mixer was at fault, but wasn't sure. I turned to the Gardenweb Cooking Forum for advice.
"Grainlady" identified the problem: too little protein in the wheat. This can vary somewhat from batch to batch, due to the wheat field's growing conditions. (If you want to know more about what factors affect protein content, check out this page, which goes into more detail.) She recommended I do the following test to check the protein level:
"Measure 2 cups plus 1-T. flour (measure by scooping a dry measuring cup into the flour, filling it, and slightly packing the flour as you level it off against the side of the flour container). Add it to a food processor with the steel knife. Add 1-cup of water. Process for about 30 seconds.
If your flour is high protein (somewhere around 13-14%) it will absorb 1 cup of water producing a sticky dough ball when processed for 30-seconds in the workbowl of a food processor with the steel knife. If the dough ball looks somewhat "loose", then you may need to add vital wheat gluten to the flour to increase the protein, or reduce the mixing time and see if you get better results."
After seeing my photos of my results, she said that if the wheat had adequate protein, the dough should have made a more distinctive ball shape. In addition to increasing the amount of vital wheat gluten and cutting the kneading time, I should let my first stage 'sponge' for longer than the 25 minutes recommended in my recipe. (She recommended a 2 1/2 hour sponge, but with that batch I found 1 hour to be enough.) I found elsewhere on the internet, that adding mashed potato to the mix would help, so I did it all, with much more pleasing results.
|After 90 minutes rising/sponging time-|
Notice how much farther up the center post
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