Rose says using the correct flour is important. She mentions King Arthur brand most often, so I bought a fifty pound sack of Sir Lancelot hi-gluten flour, protein content – 14.2%. And since I am tired of paying such a high price for a very small box of cake flour I tried to find Queen Guinevere Hi-Ratio Cake Flour, (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/professional/Conventional-bakery-flours.html ).
But I had to settle for a fifty pound sack of General Mills – Gold Medal Purasnow Cake Flour, protein content – 8% because no one stocks Queen Guinevere in Kansas City.
I decided I would make my own 9.2 % protein pastry flour by calculating the exact two proportions to combine. Perhaps you will profit from my experience. I have a formula here that you can use to start with any two flours and end up with any percentage of protein desired.
Since protein percentages are specified in parts per hundred, it is convenient to start off with 100 grams of Cake Flour so we can think of one percent and one gram as the same amount.
Goal: Mixture with 9.2% Protein
Using: Hard flour, 14.2% Protein
and Weak flour, 8% Protein
So we want to increase the protein from 8% to 9.2% by combining these two flours.
If we add 25 grams of Hard Flour, it works. Here is the math. (For your own percentages, you will have to jiggle the numbers until you get to your desired protein level. Or you can use an exact Algebra formula I will show you. Believe me, jiggling the numbers is easier than algebra).
Add 25 grams of Hard Flour: 3.55 grams of protein, (14.2 multiplied by 25% = 3.55)
Hard Flour Protein: 3.55
Cake Flour Protein: + 8
Total grams of Protein: 11.55
Now remember, the total weight of the mixture is 100g + 25g = 125 grams
So, 125 divided by 11.55 = .0924 Close enough!
Let’s say your recipe calls for 200 grams of flour, how can it be figured?
Since the 9.24 Protein goal is obtained when:
100 grams cake flour is added to
25 grams hard flour
125 grams Total weight
The percentage of the additional amount is 20% of the total.
25 grams divided by 125 grams = 20%
Therefore the amount of hard flour is 20% of 200 = 40 grams of hard flour And the weak cake flour amount is 80% or 160 grams!
*And now for the Algebra Equation:
(8+(14.2X)) Divided by (100+(100x))
Solve for X, The answer is .25
But remember this is the proportion of additional hard flour for 100 grams, just the first step. After this, you must figure how many grams of flour your recipe calls for as I have explained above.
You may plug in your own percentages in this formula and check out your answer with Microsoft’s Free Algebra Calculator which you may install from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=15702
This is an interesting approach- a number of pro bakers’ books use it, stocking cake and bread flour only and mixing them to get whatever protein content is appropriate for the recipe. Next time I run out of AP, I’ll check back.
Julie, Thanks for your reply. All the math is just not very pretty, I know.
On a side issue, that hard flour I bought, Sir Lancelot hi-gluten flour, protein content – 14.2% - is just great. I used it to make dinner rolls and I got the strongest rise I have ever seen so that the shape of the dinner rolls were very high and round. I make dinner rolls with two lumps of dough in each muffin tin, and I tell you these dinner rolls had cleavage! Did they keep their shape better because of the high gluten?
And the taste and texture is noticeably better, a lot better. I will never go back to all purpose flour.
Did they keep their shape better because of the high gluten?
Yup. Stronger flours produce breads with a rounder shape and more chew to the crumb. They also produce smaller holes in the crumb. There may be some additional browning as well, due to the high protein content, though sugars are also important for browning. You probably also proofed them just right- underproofed and they would burst in the oven, distorting or cracking your shape, overproofed and there wouldn’t be much oven spring, and they could collapse.
I will never go back to all purpose flour.
You weren’t using bleached AP, were you? Unbleached AP can be very nice for bread, giving a tender crumb and being one factor contributing to larger holes, for breads where that is a goal.
Julie, If I did the proofing right, it was luck because I am sure no expert. I always allow the dough to more than double in size. And of course, in the oven the size increases too! I will have to be careful. because I don’t want cracking or a big collapse.
I have not been careful with flour before now because I thought that any difference in results would be only slight. -Wrong! Yes, we have used bleached flour on occasion and we had decent results. But the results with this Sir Lancelot hi-gluten flour - is just GREAT!
I have not been careful with flour before now because I thought that any difference in results would be only slight.
I think there is enough variation in the technique of us amateurs that the type of flour we use fades into insignificance. Sometimes we knead more, sometimes we knead less and that will affect the texture and shape of the bread we bake. You can make AP flour be pretty chewy by developing the gluten to its maximum; however, most people value tenderness in dinner rolls and don’t want it to act like white bread. I don’t think anyone would recommend using high gluten flour for this purpose.
Charles T, Thank you for your reply, I must learn about kneading and glueten development. I have tried kneading but it seems like only a ritual to me because I cannot see any results, good or bad from kneading. I will go and learn.
If no one recommends high glueten flour for dinner rolls, then I cannot account for my good results. Of course, there is no accounting for taste. But after a year of trying different recipies and experimenting by varying the ingredients, my family and I are very pleased with last weekend’s results using Sir Lancelot hi-gluten flour. I will try it again this weekend and if I get the same results, this will be the recipe we will use forever. My family is very critical and I can tell when I make a mediocre batch of dinner rolls because no one eats them heartily. But when teenagers volunteer at the Thanksgiving dinner table that my dinner rolls are the best part of a lavish Thanksgiving dinner, I know I have hit the jackpot. And last weekend’s batch exceeded even that.
And how about the theory of Pastry flour? Is it legal to mix bleached cake flour with unbleached flour? I may try Rose’s Strudel this weekend. My wife and I have “discussed” this and it seems I must spread newspapers on the floor before I attempt to apply flour to a sheet and spread it over our round kitchen table.
There are a whole host of variables that contribute to the quality of bread. I’d list
1) Quality of ingredients
2) Gluten development
3) Fermentation time
4) Suitable bake time
Gluten development is best determined by forming a gluten window, AKA window pane test. For dinner rolls, which are usually highly enriched (milk, eggs, butter, sugar, etc), the ingredients tend to overshadow the effects of the other elements. I use AP flour for dinner rolls and I don’t take them to full gluten development, and they’re also highly popular at Thanksgiving, But then, the recipe has a stick of butter, several eggs, milk powder, and honey; what’s not to like? I also usually let them ferment for a couple of days in the refrigerator.
I don’t think you’d really be able to taste the difference between AP flour and HP flour. The latter can surely create a chewier and higher rising bread, if you develop the gluten to its maximum potential, but if you’re not sure how to evaluate your gluten development, it’s unlikely you’re doing that. In other words, you may not be taking full advantage of the gluten forming ability of either the AP or the HP flour. I used to buy HP flour, but I really see little use for it unless you want to make bagels. For breads that need a little extra gluten help, such as those that incorporate whole grains, I just add some vital wheat gluten.
You can certainly mix bleached and unbleached flours, but most connoisseurs think that unbleached flour produces a better flavor for breads. King Arthur makes an unbleached cake flour and that’s what I use to weaken the protein of flour when I need to.
Yes, it is perfectly “legal” to mix flours to get the result you’re looking for. Rose recommends doing it in the Pie/Pastry Bible and many flours are blended/mixed at the mill to get the right characteristics.
For your bread, try to use unbleached flours always, as they have more flavor and a little more gluten-forming ability than bleached flours. If your dinner rolls have a lot of added butter, etc., then a stronger flour, capable of supporting all those heavy ingredients, may be the right choice- the tender, gossamer and high-rising Italian cake pandoro is made with high-gluten flour for this reason.
Keep in mind, though, as Charles points out, there are a lot of factors at play and it’s possible that you managed the fermentation just right or did something else that produced a lovely combination of flavor, shape and texture. The high gluten flour will produce a chewier texture and rounder shape, but it is unlikely to affect flavor unless you are comparing it with a bleached flour.
Glad your rolls are turning out just the way you like them
I know that Peter Reinhart discusses how extended kneading can “oxidize” the unbleached flour and reduce its flavor. If you start with HP flour and knead it less, achieving similar gluten strength as very well kneaded AP flour, would the resulting dough also be less oxidized (with presumably better flavor) in the process?
If you start with HP flour and knead it less, achieving similar gluten strength as very well kneaded AP flour, would the resulting dough also be less oxidized (with presumably better flavor) in the process?
Oooh, great question. To me this is a subject not explored thoroughly in any baking book. I would think, though, that a minute or two mixing either way isn’t going to make a huge difference in oxidation, particularly when you have a dough enriched by other ingredients.
I had a few other technical questions. If the bread had more bite (regardless if that’s desirable in a dinner roll) wouldn’t that tend to increase the amount of time a person spent chewing it? Could that also increase flavor detection because of increased saliva production and other stuff going on in the mouth? (Part of the reason seniors can’t taste as well is because of decreased saliva production.) Also, HP flours tend to require more liquid to get the same workability in the dough. Could the increase in water help better break down the starches, making it easier for the yeast to feed, producing more flavor in the process? Other flavor-related variables specific to the flour might be the strain of wheat used in HP flour vs AP flour as well as the age of the flour he was using. I know people over at thefreshloaf.com (much more hardcore bakers than me!) who grind their own flour seem to be blown away by flavor differences.
Regarding enrichments, I think it’s possible that at least a small amount of fat might actually enhance the flours flavor since beta-carotene (and surely other flavonoids in the flour) is fat soluble. Beta-carotene is also sensitive to oxidation, according to Reinhart. Perhaps there is a point where fat/sugar/etc goes from enhancing to overwhelming the actual flavor of the flour. Dinner rolls might be past the point, but perhaps the oil added to a simple bread like pita might enhance the wheaty flavor.
Also, HP flours tend to require more liquid to get the same workability in the dough. Could the increase in water help better break down the starches, making it easier for the yeast to feed, producing more flavor in the process?
I would think that only the water not taken up by gluten formation would be available for other purposes (higher protein flours need more water because it is used to form gluten). In my experience, slacker doughs with extra water (more than is needed for optimal gluten formation) have a tendency to need extra or even extensive kneading/folds in order to form enough gluten to be a decently-structured bread. This tends to work against extra flavor formation, even as the higher hydration helps boost fermentation and the flavors it produces. I always worry, when working on recipes with big holes and high hydration, about maintaining all the flavor possible in the flour.
people…who grind their own flour seem to be blown away by flavor differences.
My understanding is that you get great enzyme activity (provided they don’t overheat the flour when milling) and also the freshly milled flours are reported to have a higher fructose content which quickly fades into other, less sweet sugars as the flour is stored. I’ve made Rose’s 100% whole wheat bread from her blog with freshly ground flour and I loved it. It also had a fair amount of walnut oil (your next point) and walnuts in it, yum.
perhaps the oil added to a simple bread like pita might enhance the wheaty flavor.
I know that Peter Reinhart discusses how extended kneading can “oxidize” the unbleached flour and reduce its flavor.
This concept was first published and promoted by Raymond Calvel in the Taste of Bread, in response to commercial bakers in France who had begun to knead doughs intensively by machine in order to cut out some or all of the bulk fermentation, much to the detriment of flavor. If you’re looking at a recipe that says to knead for 20 minutes, there’s definitely going to be a noticeable level of flavor loss. But nowadays most home bakers limit kneading to 10 minutes or less, and I wonder how often we really are able to detect the difference between flavor in a bread that was kneaded for 5-7 minutes versus one that was kneaded for 10 minutes.
FWIW, I find that one of the best ways to achieve a rich, flavorful bread is to add sugar, either as an ingredient, or by an extended autolyse (which allows the amylase enzymes in the flour to create sugar from starches), and/or by limiting the yeast in the dough so that the sugar-producing enzymes are able to produce sugars a little faster than the yeast are able to gobble them up. Some would cringe, I know, but when I need to get a bread ready without enough lead time I just add the sugar (1-2% of the flour, by weight), and it really helps produce flavor.
Thanks for the responses Julie. I’m really learning a lot! I had another question. So, once the protein in the HP flour is denatured by the extra needed water, the water stays bound up with the gluten, and has limited effects on other factors like yeast development?
Since bread made with more highly oxidized dough should be whiter, maybe I should experiment with my kneading times to see if there’s a noticeable difference in color (and presumably flavor) : )
You’re on the right track! A good parameter to judge how much water is available for microbial processes other than forming gluten is to go by the consistency or texture of the dough. If it is quite firm and dry (i.e., not sticky), that would indicate a lower amount of available moisture. A soft dough that can be kept from sticking with a small amount of flour would be an average amount of available moisture, and a slack dough, one that is quite soft and sticks to everything, would have a lot of available water.
The protein content and bran content of flour will determine how much water it will absorb before it becomes soft and slack, so that a high protein, whole grain flour will take much more water than a white, lower protein flour to achieve the same consistency.
Your experiment sounds great! I would suggest mixing up a small batch of lean dough with a medium consistency (soft but not overly sticky) just until there are no dry spots, then divide it in half. For the “less kneading” half, set it aside to autolyse for 30-60 min, then do a series of stretch and folds every half hour or hour until the dough holds its shape well and feels elastic, this might take 3-5 folds. For the “more kneading” half, knead without autolysing for a good ten minutes, then leave it undisturbed for rising, doing just one fold or punch down at the end of rising, before shaping.
After proofing, bake both test loaves (or rolls, if your batch is quite small) at the same time, then compare color and flavor when cool. It will be easiest to taste the flavor of the crumb if you keep the crust light golden, rather than darkly browned.
If you do decide to carry out the test bake, I’d love to hear your results