The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Optimal amount of protein for a whole wheat flour?

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staff of life's picture
staff of life

Optimal amount of protein for a whole wheat flour?

I checked on Wheat Montana's site today and saw that their whole wheat flour has a protein content of 15-16%!!  It's the flour I've been using; I have noticed that with most recipes I have to add more water than suggested, but I didn't put two and two together.  I'm thinking that in order to adjust for a more fragile gluten network formed in a whole grain dough that the protein level should be higher than a white flour, but this seems excessive.  (And I don't even know if I'm right about the whole protein thing being higher.)  I can't find any info in any of my books about this subject.  Can anyone enlighten me?

SOL 

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Staff of life,

Yes, the protein levels are higher for whole wheat flour than white flour, but about 3 to 4 points of that percentage is in the germ and the bran, so it doesn't add to the dough strength.

To make whole wheat bread with a light crumb, you want about 15%+ protein, so your flour is perfect!

rideold's picture
rideold

Does the flour you used for your "100% WW to be proud of" have 15%+ protien content?  I've been going off the published protien content on the bag of WW I buy and have not had the success with the open crumb you have.  I'm thinking the protien content may be partially to blame.

staff of life's picture
staff of life

Where did you learn that?

SOL

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Not sure, actually, though I believe it was in the King Arthur Flour Whole Grains Baking book.

staff of life's picture
staff of life

Possibly the only book I don't have.  Good info.

SOL

charbono's picture
charbono

to know the rated absorbance of Prairie Gold, or its sibling, Bronze Chief.  In addition to the previously-noticed high protein level, they have a low, 9%-10% moisture level.  These flours are thirsty.                       

 

In order to derive the useful protein level in whole wheat, one of the King Arthur books recommends factoring the stated protein amount by 75%.  Elsewhere I’ve read that the bran impacts gluten in three ways.  (1) The bran cuts the gluten strands.  (2) The protein in the bran provides a low-quality gluten.  (3) The bran is loaded with protease.

 
staff of life's picture
staff of life

What the avg moisture level is in flour? 

The info you guys are providing is great!  Maybe I DO need another bread book afterall.

SOL

charbono's picture
charbono

seems to be the usual upper limit.  Not sure about avg.

 

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

It might be the protein, but it's just as likely to be technique. It's not easy to get even a moderately open crumb from 100% whole grain breads. Some suggestions:

  • Go wetter than you normally do with white flour. The bran absorbs more water. I start at 75% and go as high as 85% hydration -- some people go even higher.
  • Shape firmly but gently. This took a long time for me to figure out, and I still think I've got a ways to go ...
  • Make sure you've let your dough fully proof. I think I was underproofing my loaves early on.
Good luck!
Pjacobs's picture
Pjacobs

Are you using the bakers percentage: flour weight = 100% The water - 75%? Ex--flour weight = 40 oz, water = 30 oz? How do you handle the sticky dough?


Thanks


Phil