The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can't Get Bread Flour

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glakritz's picture
glakritz

Can't Get Bread Flour

I live in rural Central America and the local people really enjoy the Americano baked goods I make. In most recipes, I found I can substitute AP, but am afraid to try others as I have no access to bread flour. Does anyone know of a viable substitute that would not include a 12 hour ride on a chicken bus to the next country over (If they even have it). Thanks and Feliz Navidad y Feliz Año Nuevo from the third hut from the river just past the palm trees.


I forgot to mention in the origal post, we do not have postal service here, so ordering over the internet is not an option.

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

They really find that baking breads with AP flour to be fine.  I've done it several times in the past when I just don't have enough bread flour.  "Back in the day" when all there was was AP flour.. bread flour for the home baker was unheard of.


If you can't order on the internet, or get it locally.. I'm not sure what you'd do about getting bread flour...  Your texture will be slighty different, but I doubt anyone you're sharing it will really know the difference.  Only you.

glakritz's picture
glakritz

I do remember back in the day that my mother turned out the most beautifu product with just plain old AP.  A 64 mile trip will yeild whole wheat flour, but it is of a dubious quality.  I have a Gringo friend nearby that is dying for a bagel, and I guess I will try it for her for a Christmas morning surprise.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Maybe you can find a nearby bakery or restaurant to order you some bread flour(hard wheat flour) or pure gluten flour(vital wheat gluten) from wherever they are getting their supplies.


Vital wheat gluten is sometimes added to other flours to give them the desired amount of gluten necessary for the type of bread being made(if bread flour is not available). It usually only takes a small amount, so a bag of it would probably last a long time if stored properly. Just a suggestion, as real flour made from hard wheat would probably be preferable.


Good luck, and Feliz Navidad.

glakritz's picture
glakritz

I know I can get it, but it is several hundred miles away, with some unpaved and unmarked roads.  I will pick some up when I next make the trip.

K.C.'s picture
K.C.

What other grains are available locally ?

If you can find Quinoa you can add more protein easily. Another option is Manioc. Look for "farinha de mandioca."

Aside from changing the flour just work with what you've got. It make take more time to develop the gluten but there's no reason you can't get great flavor with all purpose flour.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

adding it will only reduce the amount of gluten. 


Use the AP.  There are ways around the lack of bread flour. :) Bread flour absorbs more water and liquids as AP so be prepared to hold back on the liquids when substituting bread flour with AP when mixing the dough.  Chances are good you won't need all of that last 1/2 cup water.  Another trick is to add an egg white into the liquids for doughs that you do not 'poolish.'  About one egg white for every 500g flour. Throw it into the cup with the water to measure.  (Do not let the dough sit in the sun.)


Bagels with AP? Use the egg white and let the dough bulk rise twice.  Add dry ingredients to wet mixing gradually, keep the dough on the stiff side (50% hydration) and really pound the dough flat to degas between rises and before shaping.  Those are my tips. 


Ever since I was in Costa Rica, I've been after more Black Bean Bread.  Black Beans are not grown everywhere and I had no problems baking bread using local ingredients and soaked & cooked beans.  Makes for a very fluffy texture.


Here is the link: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1131/hello-and-help#comment-3517


Mini

K.C.'s picture
K.C.

Mini, just to clarify, if you re-read my post. I offered that Quinoa could be used to add protein. Perhaps you misread my post. I was not suggesting it would raise the gluten level.

Egg white, same story, a simple protein that can help to create a cohesive dough, though it offers no gluten.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

so that it can interact?

Chuck's picture
Chuck

There are some reasons for the existence of bread flour:



  • it's more likely to rise even if you mess up a whole lot

  • it makes good pizza dough (extra stretchy) and bagels (extra chewy)

  • it gives the marketers something else to flog

  • it presents more "choice" of flours in the supermarket

  • it makes it easier to legitimately seek more supermarket shelf space


But the common idea that you should use "bread flour" to make "bread" is a complete crock. That idea must make some marketer deliriously happy, but...


 


Flours with protein/gluten levels as low as 9% can readily make perfectly good bread.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

because of the long abuse working time window.  It holds up against long degenerative fermenting processes because it should have a higher ash content than AP.  


Bread flour is often used in instant yeast breads as glue to hold together recipes that have too many tiny seeds and low gluten flours.  Easy solution is to reduce the amounts of the low gluten flours in these recipes adding a little more AP. 

K.C.'s picture
K.C.

"Flours with protein/gluten levels as low as 9% can readily make perfectly good bread."

Kamut and many whole wheat flours average 5% protein. Many fine breads are made world wide with these as the sole flour. Working with AP is easy by comparison.

Candango's picture
Candango

KC, I think that glakritz might have some problem getting farinha de mandioca in Central America.  It is a Brazilian product (more commonly available as "amido de mandioca" (manioc starch) in Brazil, and as "amidon de yucca" in Colombia and other South and Central American countries.  The starch is used to make Pan de Luna in Colombia and Pao de Queijo in Brazil, a type of cheese ball made with starch, oil, some egg, and a lot of cheese.  Delicious, and gluten free.  But the manioc/yucca is a starchy tuber, and even when the whole product is ground into a flour (harina de yucca), it is not as ideal for bread as AP flour. 


Glakritz, not to worry about the lack of Bread Flour out where you are.  I cooked for years in Brazil and Angola with only AP and turned out respectable breads and pizzas.  At least my family and friends liked them.  Best of luck.


Bob

K.C.'s picture
K.C.

Bob I've lived throughout Central and South America and found Manioc flour in many countries. You can even buy it in the U.S..


http://www.latinmerchant.com/productdetail.asp?ProductID=F0026

Candango's picture
Candango

With apologies to all.  I guess it was the temporarily unrestrained pedant in me.  I know that manioc flour is available in many countries.  I actually bought some in Angola hoping it work for a recipe calling for manioc starch.  It didn't, but that is another story. 


I guess what struct me is that the original author, glakritz, is somewhere in the outback of a (Spanish speaking) Central American country, many miles from citified civilization, and the initial manioc suggestion was for "farinha de mandioca" (Portuguese, which can be rough ground and toasted, as in "farofa").  It would be "harina de yucca" in Spanish.  Glakritz's local market owners may not recognize the Brazilian Portuguese.  So I apologize for the pedantry. 


Glakritz, hope you can continue to get a supply of AP flour.  Don't worry about the lack of BF, the AP will do you just fine.


Bob

glakritz's picture
glakritz

I so much appreciate your imput.  Bob, yes I am way-y-y-y-y in the outback, but that is another story that I am compiling into a series for publication, possibly a book. 


I have been using my skills as a baker (I was a cake baker/decorator in America) to break the ice with the local population as my Spanish is very limited, but good bread makes good friends. 


I am so proud.  I was able to adapt a recipe for doughnuts using the local ingredients and delivered them to a holiday party day before yseterday.  Our local AP is not the same as it is in the states, so I was thrilled when, after 16 tries, I got a product any donut shop in America would be proud to serve, as it was actually better. 


I am on to bagels today.  Yesterday's experiement in themm was a total disaster.  Any hope of developing one for a Christmas morning surprise for my new friends may be dashed, but like any determined baker, I shall continue to try in an all too ill equiped kitchen with a cooker I am not familiar with.  Of all things, Philly Cream Cheese is available in every Teinda and Mercado here.  Go figure.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

and you might manage to roll out bread doughnuts.  


You have to use high-gluten flour (14% protein) for bagels.  Diastatic malt is usually added to the dough, which is retarded overnight, and barley malt syrup is added to the boiling water bath -  but what the heck, cream cheese makes everything taste pretty good and it's the thought that counts.


I hope you succeed and have a wonderful Christmas.


 

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

They are tough to make just right even here with all the necessary ingredients like Malt, etc.. good luck on those.