Exploring Gluten Development with 100% Whole Grains

Exploring Gluten Development with 100% Whole Grains

This is a continuation of my ongoing experimentation with my family’s daily bread. I first posted about this here and with this loaf I applied some theories I had been considering regarding the development of gluten. Inspired by these comments by Mariana and by watching old videos of Richard Bertinet (this one I particularly enjoy) I’ve been considering the idea that I haven’t been developing the gluten as much as I could be. I’m not unhappy with how our bread normally comes out, I’m just always tinkering and enjoy applying theory into practice. My normal methodology is to autolyze for a set amount of time, typically three hours (although I have played with Trevor’s salted and chilled overnight method) and to use Rubaud for initial development. I then switch to coil folds over stretching, I believe the action although gentle is in line with what happens during Bertinet’s slap and folding, which seems to include plenty of stretching as well. Lamination seems to apply similar effects, but I’ve only tried that a few times so far. 

So this time I tried slap and folds. And a lot of them. Which seems particularly challenging with 100% whole grain. I spent about an hour doing this to see what would happen if I just kept going. I wet my hands so many times I probably raised the hydration by about 10% from the original 80%, if not more. The dough would at times come together relatively nicely but nowhere like the soft squishy balls Bertinet likes to tap when he’s done. They’d come together but then I’d lose it a little, re-wet my hands, and keep going. At the end of the night I had sticky wet mess that left bits of dough everywhere and didn’t maintain pre-shape on the bench for more than a minute or two. I stitched it as well as I could and plopped it in the banneton for short proof and a 5 hour cold retard. 

It also overproofed slightly, which isn’t unusual for me (I shoot for 100% rise before retard). But the significant increase in hydration likely contributed to that as well. Before baking I was prepared to write this one off as loss but I was pleasantly surprised when I cut into it. It’s definitely flat from the lack of tension and too much water, and slightly over fermented as well. But it’s definitely tender and moist and it still tasted great. I would say that this particular experiment successfully failed and my typical methods are best suited for what I like to achieve.

The formula was:

  • 100% Heirloom French Renan
  • 80% H20 (plus was too much more)
  • 7% PFF
  • 2% Salt