Bread not “chewy” - low gluten flour?
Posted: 29 January 2008 04:32 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi Rose,

I am located in Australia and using the Bread Bible recipes. I have made several breads from the book however all of the cooked doughs seem to be more like little holes inside, rather than “tearing”. For example, I made the Prosciutto ring and in your picture you can see that it tears and the bread has a ripped sort of look. Whereas with my bread, they dont seem to have the “stretch” in the dough. It doesnt seem strong. I hope I am explaining myself ok. This has also been the same experience with clover leaf rolls, pullman loaf, cinnamon raisin loaf.

My initial thought is that the flour we have in Australia does not have a high gluten content and so it is not developing during mixing. I use a KA mixer and knead for the amount of time specified - even longer. I also use Organic All purpose flour where stated - as opposed to bread flour. Basically I use what is called for in the recipe - but substitute brands which are available over here.  We have the italian tipo 00 flour available here. Should I use that?  Can you suggest any changes I might make to overcome this problem.

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Posted: 29 January 2008 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Do you have a nutrition facts or information label on your flour?  If you divide the weight of protein by the weight of the serving size, it should give you an idea of the gluten content.  If could be that the flour is low on gluten, or that it is not being developed properly.  Also, make sure your flour is not too old.  You are using unbleached flour, correct?

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Posted: 29 January 2008 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hi, thanks for that. Yes, it is unbleached. I have looked at the label which says the amount of protein is 10g per 100g. The bread flour for that same brand is 11g per 100g and the italian tipo 00 is 11.2g per 100g. I will have a look in the BB to see how these compare with US flours. The flour is purchased fresh. What does bread improver do? Is this the same as Vital Wheat Gluten? Thankyou for your reply.

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Posted: 29 January 2008 11:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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It is slightly lower than US brands, so your bread would probably benefit from some added gluten.  I’ve never used an improver, but I would assume that it contains more than just gluten.

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Posted: 30 January 2008 03:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I checked King Arthur.  This is a list of ingredients in their bread improvers:

Easy-Roll Dough Improver, 12oz
Item # 1574

Ingredients: dough improver (extra grade sweet cream dairy whey, highly refined soy flour, sweet cream buttermilk, hi-heat non-fat dry milk), leavening (monocalcium phosphate, baking soda, cornstarch), natural sour flavor [corn starch, naturally fermented lactic acid, vinegar, sodium silico-aluminate (processing aid), corn flour, citric acid, natural flavors], sour cream powder (sour cream, cultured nonfat milk, citric acid), inactive yeast, diastatic malt powder.

Whole Grain Bread Improver, 12 oz
Item # 1576

Ingredients: vital wheat gluten, low-fat soy flour, inactive yeast, ascorbic acid.

Rye Bread Improver
Item # 3207

Ingredients: potato flour, vital wheat gluten, deli rye flavor [rye flour, acetic acid, natural flavors, sodium silicoaluminate (processing aid), naturally fermented lactic acid], rye sour [rye flour, corn flour, naturally fermented lactic acid, cornstarch, acetic acid, citric acid, mono-calcium phosphate, salt, yeast, sodium silicoaluminate (processing aid)], diastatic malt powder (malted barley flour, wheat flour, dextrose).

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Posted: 31 January 2008 08:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The fascinating thing about bread baking is how much variability can be achieved with simple ingredients. Gluten is developed by kneading and by the metabolic action of the yeast. Try decreasing the amount of the yeast slightly and increasing your rise times. You could try overnight rises in the refrigerator. You can also try increasing the amount of liquid just a bit. Don’t worry if the dough is a little sticky when you knead it. After the first rise it will firm up.

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Posted: 01 February 2008 02:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thanks. I will try experimenting a little and see how that goes. It is good advice.

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Posted: 01 February 2008 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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The more I thought about this the more I convinced myself that it is not low gluten problem. Traditional french bread is made with low gluten flour for instance. If you are following Rose’s recipes closely the hardest thing to duplicate is the moisture content. Flour can absorb a lot of humidity so the moisture content can vary from brand to brand, day to day, how it is stored, how old it is etc. Too many variables. This is where experience helps. Make the same recipe frequently and you will develop a ‘feel’.
This is a fun popular recipe that I got from the New York Times. I was astounded at the results the first time I tried it. The real secret here is the covered baking. It truly produces a delightful crust that is difficult to do without a commercial steam oven.

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1? hours plus 14 to 20 hours? rising
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
? teaspoon instant yeast
1? teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1?-pound loaf.

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Posted: 01 February 2008 07:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I will try a longer rise today. I might do it in the fridge. It is a bit hard to control the rise here at the moment as I am in Western Australia and we are having a hot summer and also very humid. It probably is making a difference to the flour. I am also going to try working with a stickier dough and as you suggest, make the same recipe over and over to see how it turns out.

Cant wait to try the recipe you supplied. Thanks.

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