The Fresh Loaf

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Does more gluten mean better bread?

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WillH's picture
WillH

Does more gluten mean better bread?

Hello from the UK! 

I have read that it is good to use flour with a high gluten content to make bread with a light fluffy crumb, as the gluten chains work to strengthen the dough, creating elasticity and extensibility, thus keeping the fermentation gases in the bread.

But does higher gluten content always mean better texture and volume? Is it the case that the stronger the gluten and more elastic the bread, the more resistance is gives to expansion? I have read that french bread flour has a lower gluten content than the average strong bread flour, and I have good results from mixing strong flour with plain flour. 

Does anybody know if there is a point at which higher gluten levels actually limit the expansion of the loaf, it's volume and therefore it's light texture?

jcking's picture
jcking

How is Gluten measured? How high is high Gluten? I've never seen a number associated with Gluten in flour. King Arthur advertises their Sir Lancelot high gluten floor as perfect for bagels, rye breads, pizza crust and other robust breads. So I fail to see how it would "make bread with a light fluffy crumb."

Jim

WillH's picture
WillH

I think ths logic behind it is that it will rise higher without overproving or letting any gas out, but it is interesting that KA flour market their high gluten flour as being good for more robust breads. In the UK we have plain flour, strong flour and very strong flour. Not sure if you have the same system in the US. Strong flour is almost always marketed as bread flour, for high rising loaves. 

I think there must be a balance between having an elastic and extensible dough that will allow expansion without ripping, and an overly elastic dough that will put up resistance to expansion, so perhaps a mixture of strong and plain flour is good for that. Anyone had any experience here? 

 Just too add, I believe the type 55 flour used in french bread making has a lower protein/gluten content. This type of bread is known for its light airy texture. This post has some interesting info the the subject.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/978/baguettes-type-55-flour



nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

T55/T550 indicates only the ashes content. There's not the slightest correlation between ashes content and gluten content, that means that a low ashes flour can be strong or weak or average like any other.

 

henkverhaar's picture
henkverhaar

Well, actually, there IS a, rather indirect, correlation. Ash content is a, somewhat indirect, measure of milling and 'sieving', with the amount of ash primarily  being caused by the amount of bran remaining in the flour. (And due to how flour is milled, there's also an indirect relationship between ash and courseness of the flour, although that depends on the milling process, and can also be influenced by other procedures.) Anyway, the simple correlation is that the more of the outer part of the wheat berry remains in the flour, the lower the protein content. So for a given variety of wheat, and a given milling process, lower ash correlates with higher protein/gluten content. As a number alone, it is not very useful though.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

as far as I remember -and I admit that my memory is very unreliable- in wheat kernels proteins are mainly in the outermost section of the endosperm, exactly where there's the highest concentration of mineral salts excluding the aleurone layer.

I may remember incorrectly, though. I'll wait confirmation or denial:)

 

henkverhaar's picture
henkverhaar

I base my (theoretical) info primarily on this website: http://www.classofoods.com/pagina1_1.html (in Dutch; English version: http://www.classofoods.com/page1_1.html). It does state that the outer layers of the kernel contain more protein than the inner layers, but also that that 'extra' protein is not gluten (glutenin and gliadin). So 'getting rid' of the ash would result in somewhat higher gluten percentages, I think. But hey, I'm just a simple chemist - I could be very wrong...

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

that site reads a very peculiar thing

For special applications like biscuits one uses flours with a protein content in the 15-16% range.

Biscuits? I guess he's not talking about cookies, right? Cookies with such a high protein content must feel a bit gummy:)

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

Isn't the gluten content usually measured as the protein content?

henkverhaar's picture
henkverhaar

No, although there's usually a reasonable correlation between protein content and gluten content. In fact, I don't think there is a routine direct measure of gluten content - I think it is usually based on indirect methods of dough strength, see e.g. http://www.wheatflourbook.org/doc.aspx?Id=71

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

Too much gluten may result in chewy texture. It's possible to obtain light fluffy bread without using a high gluten flour.

WillH's picture
WillH

Thank you for your reply, I do usually use a mix of strong and plain flour and that works to get the bread I want. I think there is some misunderstanding out there about protein/gluten content and suitability for bread making. 

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Personally, I find I prefer bread made with lower-gluten flours. In the U.S., that means "All-Purpose" flour, though King Arthur Flour's "All-Purpose" is strong stuff. The more gluten you have, the chewier the bread, so I tend to use high-gluten flours ins three cases: 1) Rye breads, to give them a bit more volume, 2) Breads stuffed with lots of goodies: dried fruits, nuts, etc. 3) Bagels.

Otherwise, I stick to AP. I like the flavor better.

jcking's picture
jcking

Falling numbers, available to professional bakers, are what they consider most important.

Jim

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I think reading this thread has solved a problem I've had recently.  I generally make and eat my own bread, mostly sourdough, but occasionally when I'm too busy, I buy good bread at a local French patisserie.  That bought bread always gives me digestive problems, fierce cramps, etc., whereas my own bread doesn't, and neither do bought pastries, cookies, or cakes.  The latter would be made with low gluten flour, and I use unbleached all-purpose in my breads, but a patisserie specialising in bread would surely use a high gluten, or high protein, flour.  So I guess I'm just on the edge of gluten intolerance.

miskin's picture
miskin

I am a dumb newbie here in the UK.  I make bread with Strong Flour but almost picked up a Very Strong Flour today.  What is the different between them please?