The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Limits of all-purpose flour and high hydration doughs

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sournewb71's picture
sournewb71

Limits of all-purpose flour and high hydration doughs

Just curious on those with experience with high hydration doughs, if you were able to produce a decent all white loaf with just all-purpose flour?  I've been using mostly all-purpose, instead of bread flour and think I've reached its limits.

Pat in SoCal's picture
Pat in SoCal

I regularly make Tartine style rustic loaves with 90% AP flour at 80% hydration with wonderful results. I usually throw in some mutilgrained flour for the other 10%. It's my standard "go-to" weekend bread.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Which AP flour are you using?

Jeff

sournewb71's picture
sournewb71

King Arthur All-Purpose flour.

I ran out of bread flour so started using the AP flour to see the differences.  I usually go about 75% hydration, which makes a nice smooth ball of dough, however I notice the strength of the dough is weak.  I can stretch and fold it a few times to strengthen it but I especially notice a difference in oven spring.  Just wanted to see others experience with substituting AP for bread flour and its performance.  

suave's picture
suave

Not really an AP flour.

sournewb71's picture
sournewb71

What do you mean?

suave's picture
suave

KAAP has a protein content of 11.7% which is more in line with what is expected of bread flours.  It is milled entirely from hard red winter wheat which is also consistent with it being a bread flour.   The reason it is called an AP in my opinion is to differentiate it from their bread flour.

Pat in SoCal's picture
Pat in SoCal

Not sure who you were asking but this last loaf was made with an organic AP flour...Simple something (?) private label out of Koger's (I bought it at Ralphs in California).  First time I have used this one and it was pretty nice.  I go back and forth between Stone Buhr (ordered from Amazon) and KA and they all seem to work fine...but these last loaves were particularly beautiful.  I always bake them in my large pre-heated dutch ovens.

TMStanton's picture
TMStanton

KA AP is a good flour. But it sure seems like you're pushing it to me, even at 75%. These days - I like to keep almost everything under 70% just so forming and everything else goes smoothly.

I used to use and organic AP that I bought at Costco and 68% was definitely it's limit. Now I'm mostly useing Montana Pride all-purpose (which is pretty close to bread flour). I sometimes mix in Gold Medal B4B. I'd love to use something fancier - but these days - I'm still clinging to $0.60 / lb as a target price point.

T

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

KA all purpose flour has a higher protein content than most AP flours.  Whether or not that makes it "not really" an AP flour is a discussion best taken up between the author of that comment and the King Arthur flour people.

As for the limits of any particular flour (and KA is certainly a quality flour), it is not just about the flour.  There are limits to our abilities as bakers, and the limits of any given recipe or technique, limits to your kitchen and oven, which can be very different from another kitchen and oven.  Certainly any given flour has its limits in certain applications but a skilled baker can often maneuver their way around those limitations.  What I think is important is that you are comfortable with the flour or flours that you are using and that you like the results.  If you are working with high hydration doughs and feel that the flour is failing you I would, by all means use a different flour.  It can also be fun to meet the challenges inherent in any flour and try to achieve your goal through varied mixing and handling techniques with that very same flour.  There are limits to just about everything and a way around almost all of those limitations.

Happy Baking,    Jeff