The Fresh Loaf

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Poor gluten in fresh ground flour

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DansBread's picture
DansBread

Poor gluten in fresh ground flour

Hi everyone,

 

I am relatively new to bread baking and grinding my own flour.  I have just started grinding from a new batch of "hard red spring wheat berries" and it feels like there is no gluten in there at all.  My mother starter looks like cookie dough.  After ten minutes of kneading, the dough just rips apart like the way playdoh does.  So I am convinced these wheat berries are low in protein and no good for bread making.  I have two doughs ready to go - how much wheat gluten should I add to revive the dough or is it a lost cause?

Additional info:  I use the grainmaker, grind by hand.  The wheat has bought at a local health food store and was still in the original shipping bag.  I went through 5lbs of hard white wheat with excellent results - that was from Wheat Montana.  Currently I am making raisin bread and an oatmeal struan from Peter Reinhart's book (100% whole wheat).

 

Thanks, Dan

Farmpride's picture
Farmpride

well, the flour you bought ready ground was more than likely ground much more finely than you do and it sounds like it was a white flour, this has the bran and germ removed, that makes the gluten/protein more concentrated ..your home ground is "whole" this will be weaker, and more than likely also ground corner..so try a 50/50 blend of the white and whole wheat. second, try grinding the whole wheat a 30 days to a couple months ahead of time, age strengthens gluten, bleaching took the place of aging, not just used as a a whitener... and then yes you can also go to that health food store and pick up some vital wheat gluten to add if the 50/50 deal is not what you are looking for. i would like to also see the formula you use/used.

albert/farmpride

DansBread's picture
DansBread

I refuse to bake with white flour of any kind, even if it means struggling for a long time.  White flour seems to make all bread making easier.  Anyway, before I started grinding my own flour I was using King Arthur 100% whole wheat, with excellent results.  I grind my flour right before I use it and just enough for the task at hand and I really don't want to age it - if I am going to do that, I would just buy the King Arthur flour which is an excellent and reliable product without the DIY headache.  

The interesting thing is that my first forays into home ground flour all came out great.  I was using hard white spring wheat berries (still 100% whole wheat) and grinding them on the same setting I used today. Anyway I finished that batch of wheat berries last week.  This new batch sucks.  I am convinced the product was mislabeled and was in fact a soft winter wheat which will not make a good bread flour no matter how hard you try.  

The formulas are straight from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads and I follow his instructions exactly.  I have made both of these breads at least 10-20 times - the only change was this new wheat.  I have some new wheat berries on order  - I am going to bake these breads anyway.  I'll let you know how much they flop - hopefully if will still be edible.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

and that you got soft wheat rather than hard wheat. In my experience, health food stores are not always accurate about labeling wheat berries and, if the wheat berries are simply in a bulk bin, there's no way to check.

One thing puzzles me though - you said that

“The wheat has bought at a local health food store and was still in the original shipping bag

Did you look at the original shipping bag? Do you remember what the shipping bag said? The original shipping bag should be accurate, even if the labeling by the health food store is not.

Knowing the provenance of your wheat is really important for the home miller. I've used wheat berries from Wheat Montana with great success (both hard red winter wheat & hard spring white wheat). For the past two years I've bought wheat berries from a health food store. This wheat is a local wheat grown in the Great Lakes region (grown and sold by Hawthorne Valley Farm). I definitely noticed a difference in the performance of the whole wheat flours milled from these two sources. I've even noticed variation in the Hawthorne Valley wheat berries from different growing seasons. I had to learn to make adjustments in my bread formulae to compensate for these differences.

I'm assuming you're using your home milled wheat flour within about 24 hours of milling. If, by any chance, you're using the home milled flour a week or two after home milling, the gluten forming ability of the flour could be (temporarily) adversely affected. In the later case, letting the flour age for 3 weeks might improve it's performance.

If you do exchange the wheat, I hope you'll post a follow-up about how the new batch of wheat berries works for you. This would be really helpful for other home millers.

best of luck in your baking - SF

linder's picture
linder

Hi DansBread -

You might find this study done by a TFLer of interest.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/6985/wheat-red-vs-white-spring-vs-winter

Enjoy!

Linda

DansBread's picture
DansBread

Linda,

 

Thanks for the article link - I had actually read that article about 2mo ago.  But I decided to re-read it.  I remember the broken link to sprout damage which I had not persued further - it is down in the follow-up discussion.  Anyway, I think that may be the problem.  It is not easy to see at all - my eyes are getting old I guess.  

Here is a link that shows sprout damage:http://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/wheat-ble/factor-facteur/sptd-sevsptd/sptd-eng.htm

I think it is either sprout damage or mislabeling - soft wheat instead of hard.  Is there a home test for falling number?

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

If you mix well 1 part of flour with 3 parts of water at 65°C, keep the paste in a closed  container enveloped in a pile blanket (to keep heat) after 3 hours you can make an idea of the amylase activity. The more the paste is thinned the more amylase is active (are active, actually, as there are 2 enzymes).

With my malted flour the paste is totally liquid at the end of the 3 hours.

You can even mix the two ingredients together at room temperature and bring the paste to 65°C, it's an even more accurate test.

The parts are intended to be in weight, not in volume.

DansBread's picture
DansBread

Should a good bread flour still be pretty thick at the end of 3 hrs?  I'll try this with my two batches of wheat and report back.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

stronger flours tend to have a high falling number, infact sometimes they are corrected with malt.

Once  I made a test with durum wheat (generally 500+ FN). After several hours the mash  was still as thick as when I prepared it.

arydberg's picture
arydberg

The only way i can get fresh ground flour ( hard red or hard white)  to rise properly is to add some Bob's red mill gluten to the flour.    The bag tells how much to add it is either 1 teaspoon per cup or 1 tablespoon per cup.  

DansBread's picture
DansBread

Well I baked it anyway.  Taste is good as usual - actually quite a bit sweeter than usual - but it is dense as cornbread.  4TBS of vital wheat gluten per loaf did not help a bit.  Hopefully I can return the wheat berries - I still have over 20lbs

DansBread's picture
DansBread

So I was able to get a new 25lb bag of hard spring wheat from the same health food store.  The results were night and day.  The new berries worked just like the wheat montana or KAF whole wheat.  Good gluten, windowpanes, good rise, all was good in the world again.  The health food store was very nice and gave me the new bag free and let me keep the old berries - they make nice pancakes.  

The orginal wheat berries were labeled "hard spring red wheat"   - sampling both...they look the same, bite the same (same hardness).  I believe there was some sprouting damage that my untrained eye was and still is incapable of seeing.  Even the pancake batter seems different.  I have ordered a batch of wheat berries from beprepared.com - I'll report back on the quality there.  

To answer some other questions, I weigh the berries and grind only what I am going to use in the next 30min.  I have read about the troubles with storing fresh ground flour and "green flour"  

There is little info on the wheat berry bag about the origin of the wheat.  The reason the store was willing to comp my second bag was that the first bag had been in their store room for a few months and the manager thought it might be "old"  I wish I could test the falling number of the two bags of wheat - without something objective to measure it is hard to know what went wrong.

Even these new berries are not as good as the wheat montana, for what it worth. I would have just bought form wheat montana if their shipping charges were out of control

DansBread's picture
DansBread

So 1 yr later and I can tell you it was definitely a bad batch of wheat berries.  60 loaves of bread later and all have been light airy and excellent with new berries.  I have been through over 100lbs from several different suppliers.  I grind the day I need and use it.  I use no vital gluten or conditioners.  I saved the "bad berries" and use them for pancakes and making pasta.  They work just fine for that.  I am not sure whether it was sprouting damage or low gluten levels (ie soft wheat). 

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

and (as a long time home miller myself) I'm going to remember that it's possible to get a bad batch of wheat berries

Usually one never knows the final outcome, so I'm grateful for this post of yours. THANKS!