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Atta flour - Stone ground Indian Wheat

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aozors's picture
aozors

Atta flour - Stone ground Indian Wheat

Hi,


 


I am newly registered here although I have been lurking around and learning a lot from the contributors of this forum.  I just had to register now because I ran into trouble with this flour and wonder whether there is anyone out there familiar with this flour.


 


I tried to bake wholegrain sourdough sandwich bread using this flour with a 12 % protein content.   As this flour is available at my area at a very very reasonable price, I really wish to bake nice loaves with this flour.  The recipe goes like this


300g sourdough starter at 100% hydration


350g Atta flour


185g buttermilk


185 g water


1.25 tsp salt


2 tbsp honey


2tbsp butter


 


What happened was I mixed the dough with my breadmachine, basically just getting them wet, then I let it rest for about 45 mins before I continued the kneading process on the machine.  I let it knead for 25 minutes until it sort of pass the windowpane test.  After that I retarded the dough in the fridge and then the next morning, took it out, let it rest on the counter for half an hour, and then I did a couple of stretch and folds at one hour intervals.  During the last stretch and fold, the bread actually tore.  The gluten strands seemed to be very weak. Does anyone out there have any idea why this is happening?


 


I have baked with this recipe using hard spring wheat flour and there were no problems at all.  The bread rose very well with a nice crumb although there was a bitter taste that I do not like which is why I am trying out this flour.


 


Thank you so much for paying attention to my thread.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

12% is not very high for a whole wheat flour. I suspect it is from soft(er) wheat. Also sounds like it may not be as finely ground as some of the flours that make better(higher rising) breads. (My) reference standard for ww flour for breads is King Arthur, which is 14% protein.


All things being equal, you just probably are  not going to get the same high(er) rising bread as you would from a higher protein flour. Not saying you can't make a bread that you will enjoy, just probably not what you seem to be looking for.

aozors's picture
aozors

The flour is very finely ground.  In fact, it is even more finely ground than the hard spring wheat I use. 


I tried using a smaller amount of starter in an earlier experiment and the bread rose slightly better.  My question is, why are the gluten strands weaker in this type of flour?


Hope somebody who has worked with this flour before can answer this.  Thank you for your reply.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Just not as much protein available for gluten. Hard spring wheat can be as high as 14%, as compared to your 12% atta.


Again, all things being equal...

herculeorama's picture
herculeorama

Hi


Try using maida first. Gradually replace some of it with atta creating atta-maida mix. Experiment the proportions till you get what you want. Maida will have more gluten than atta.


 

aozors's picture
aozors

Hi


I do not wish to use maida because I prefer whole grain breads, 100%.  But I will try using some hard spring wheat and see the results.  Thank you.

oatman's picture
oatman

Atta is hard wheat which is high in gluten and protein, typically 12%-14%. Maida has lower gluten content. Maida is more finely milled and is an "all purpose" or "cake" flour. Try 50/50 Rawa and Atta. It works for me!

jeremiahwasabullfrog's picture
jeremiahwasabullfrog

I also find that I can buy atta flour for a good price (especially for a wholemeal flour).


I get different answers about atta flour, but the favourite seems to be that it is basically a whole wheat flour with the coursest bran sifted out.


It has plenty of protein for rustic breads, but even though it is a relatively fine flour, the bran still cuts the gluten and makes it hard to window pane. I think that for flours with any amount of bran remaining, the window pane is not very relevant.


If I read your post rightly, you are kneading with a breadmaker, kneading 25 minutes by hand, stretching and folding, and resting over night!!! There is plenty of opportunity for gluten development there!


I would try 4 x short kneads or stretch and folds at 30 minute intervals, and rest overnight - that should be plenty. You also might want to try a soaker. I never have, but it is meant to soften the bran amoing other things.


 


I think it's a great flour, you can't make everything with it, but which flour can?


All the best,


J


 

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

According to my Indian cookbooks, atta flour is a very finely milled, 100% whole wheat flour that is used for Indian flatbreads. While high in protein, it does not develop a lot gluten during kneading (because, if it did, it would not make good flatbread). The process of making flatbreads is very different from making freeform or pan-rising "western style" breads.


While protein is a rough indicator of the ability of a whole wheat flour to develop gluten, it is not entirely accurate. As a dedicated home miller, I researched this question quite extensively about two years ago (see http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/7343/what039s-right-grain-chappati-flour )


You say

Quote:
During the last stretch and fold, the bread actually tore. The gluten strands seemed to be very weak.
This happened despite extensive kneading and a number of stretch-and-folds. This reinforces my contention that atta flour is an inappropriate choice for western style breads.

You also say

Quote:
I have baked with this recipe using hard spring wheat flour and there were no problems at all. The bread rose very well with a nice crumb although there was a bitter taste that I do not like

I would suggest returning to flour milled from hard spring wheat that is grown to make bread (Triticum aestivum). Some bakers who use flour milled from hard red wheat do complain of a "bitter taste". This may indicate old flour (so try to buy from a source that has rapid turnover) OR poor growing conditions for hard spring wheat OR simply your taste preferences and/or a particular sensitivity to the phenolic compounds and tannins that are found in the bran of hard red wheat


I don't know where, geographically, you live (which makes a big difference in the kinds of bread flours you can get), but I would recommend using a mix of whole wheat flours milled from hard RED spring wheat and hard WHITE spring wheat to reduce the bitter taste. Hard WHITE wheat is nutritionally similar to hard RED wheat, the baking properties (for bread) are similar, but WHITE wheat has a much less assertive taste than RED. Many bakers on TFL who do this start off with a 50/50 mix of red and white whole wheat flours. (see http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/6985/wheat-red-vs-white-spring-vs-winter for an extensive discussion of the difference between hard red and hard white wheat).


Lastly, freshness does make a difference in the taste of hard red spring wheat. You probably already know this, but all whole wheat flours will keep fresher longer if you store them, on purchase, in the freezer.


Hope this helps. Best of luck in your bread baking efforts. - SF

tangoempress's picture
tangoempress

Atta is a Durum wheat flour and is more comparible to a semolina/ Durum flour.  I have used it successfully in Tomcat's Semolina Filone as a substitute as its much cheaper than Durum Flour and readily available at my local Oriental Grocery store.  The color is darker and the flavor a bit nuttier, but its a delicious loaf.  There is a lot more discussion here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2137/tom-cats-semolina-filone

herculeorama's picture
herculeorama

I wished to know if bread flour is available in India and if yes where. Sorry for digression but thought it might be okay while talking about atta.


 


 

cherylmathew's picture
cherylmathew

Atta is an Urdu word and literary means "flour" not sure of what atta is being referred to here. I live in Pakistan. Generally whole wheat flour is called atta. Then we have the corn flour which is called "makaee atta" and so on. White AP flour is called "maida".  The atta is used to make chappati and paratha. The dough is kneaded (with addition of a little salt for flavor) with water. Left to rest for 30 minutes and then rolled to a flat round about 1/8" thick and roasted on a griddle, usually cast iron. Parathas are rolled, oiled, folded and rerolled then fried with a little oil or ghee (clarified butter) on a griddle. There are several varieties of filled parathas, sugar filling is most popular, then there is potato, mince meat, and many more varieties.


I hope this info is of help.


Cheryl

lookahead's picture
lookahead

Atta flour is readily available in my city. So last weekend I tried using 2 brands of atta flour to bake 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf using the formula from Whole Grain Bread.

Atta 1 was listed as having 17.5% protein content. I have my doubts if it can be so high. It is very finely ground and is almost completely pale cream in colour, with tiny specks of slightly darker bits which I believe is bran. I imagine this is milled from white wheat.

The baked result from Atta 1 was a disappointment in taste. The mouthfeel is comparable to white bread (ie becomes gummy when chewed and sticks to teeth). The rise height was not so high but is acceptable. I believe this atta is milled from soft white wheat, which leads to the disappointing taste and pale colour.

Atta 2 was listed as having 11.5% protein content. This sounds more right. The baked result was the same as Atta 1. However I overproofed it, resulting in the tunnel below the top crust.

So my conclusion is atta flour is not suitable for making high rising sandwich loaves.

Xenophon's picture
Xenophon

I know it's a old thread but here is my experience with atta after having tried it a number of times during my (up until now) 5 years in India. 

Atta is wholewheat flour, the degree of milling differs substantially between brands.  It's used for making India flatbreads such as roti.  I bake all my bread using western (imported) flour, wholewheat or plain, rye etc. Results are generally very good.  As I haveto purchase all the imported flour here at huge prices or schlep it over in my luggage, about once a year I try atta to bake something, against my better judgment.

Although superficially the protein content looks very promising (generally 13-15%) the gluten quality is really extremely poor.  This becomes immediately clear -as others have remarked- by the dough tearing up during shaping.  Sure, you can bake 'a' bread with it but the result will most likely not please you as it develops little structure and the crumb remains fairly dense and moist.  Have to say that the taste is also quite flat, even when using a preferment.  I'm typing this just after having made the most recent attempt which resulted in...well, what I described above.

Another thing I've observed is that with atta, all other things (hydration, temperature, yeast...) being equal, you typically get an extremely rapid fermentation with good expansion.  I'd guess it rises about twice as fast as dough made using western flour, maybe due to the fact that the low-quality gluten doesn't offer enough resistance.

Conclusion:  Great for (indian) flatbreads, totally unsuitable for western style bread, try it at your peril.  

 

 

ananda's picture
ananda

Yes, this is an old thread, but I've read through it and think the real reason why it is difficult to make good bread with Atta is not discussed here at all.

Firstly, Atta is milled from Durum wheat.   As such it is high protein, but low quality.   The number on the side of the bag is just that; a number.   It tells only part of the story!   There are numerous different grinds, but ordinarily an Atta-type flour is 95 - 100% extraction, so there will be a high presence of protein which contributes nothing to gluten formation.

However, the real reason for general poor performance is to do with starch damage, not protein levels.   Atta is always finely ground, and processed from Durum wheat which is extremely hard grain.   The starch damage which results from the milling results in high degree of amylase activity.   Hence why some posters above comment on the gummy nature of the crumb.

Best wishes

Andy

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I participated in a thread about atta flour a few years ago and I had found a scholarly study about how atta is milled in India. The study referenced the heat damage done due to the high temperature during the milling process, both from the friction of milling and the ambient temperature. The starch degradation was never a problem, though, because the atta was usually used for flatbreads-chapatis, roti,etc . Too bad the article is no longer available-it had some interesting discussions in it.