Q: When I make the 100% whole wheat bread it doesn’t seem to rise as well as the other doughs, am I doing something wrong?
A: The short answer is no! It is nothing you are doing wrong, it is just the nature of whole wheat flour. Because there is so much bran and natural oil in the flour it is impossible to get enough gluten development to achieve a really good rise on the bread.
To get a higher sandwich loaf, we tend to overfill the loaf pan and let it rise for longer. If you go about 3/4 full and allow the dough to rise for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours depending on the size of the pan, you’ll get a taller loaf. The whole wheat loaves in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day will do well with this approach.
Another way to get more rise in the bread is to add “vital wheat gluten” (also known as “vital wheat gluten flour,” to the dough. If you whisk in 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup of dry grain ingredient you will have a much higher, lighter loaf of bread. It also contains vitamin C which helps to improve the dough and make it more elastic. But you’ll need to increase the water in the recipe to adjust for the extra protein; that’s the kind of recipe testing we did for Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
Q: My whole wheat loaf doesn’t get a good crisp crust! What can I do?
A: The naturally occurring oils in the flour, plus the added oil in the recipe will prevent this bread from ever getting a really crackly crust. You can bake the bread with steam to help with the crust, but it will eventually get soft again. If you want a bread with a crisp crust you will want to look for recipes with mostly white flour and no added oils.