The Fresh Loaf

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Local Flour

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hazimtug's picture
hazimtug

Local Flour

Hi Everyone,

I keep on baking even though I have been away from TFL for a while. My bakes are mostly the high hydration, crusty, burnished sourdough loaves, and I am really liking the flavors and textures I can get using pre-soaked whole wheat type flours. I am mostly following the Chad Robertson method, which has been working really well, and I just strive for that perfect loaf everytime I bake. For flour, I have been using Bob's Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat flour and the Central Milling AP flour. Great performance and taste... however, I want to switch over to using local grains/flours.

I recently obtained the local Westwind flours as I reside in Southeast Michigan. These flours are freshly stone milled and you can either go to the mill to get them or purchase them at some of the local stores, such as WF... the latter, more of a recent development if I am not wrong. In any case... for my bakes last weekend, I tried making two loaves for comparison purposes.

  • One loaf using 90% Westwind unbleached organic bread flour (was milled in late May 2013) and 10% BRM organic WW flour @ about 95% hydration. I was told that the Westwind bread flour is about 17% protein.
  • One loaf using 90% BRM organic WW flour and 10% BRM organic spelt flour @ 100% hydration. As I have been doing, the BRM flour was off the shelf from a local store.

Now, I know that this is not comparing apples to apples, but I would think that I could get very good results with the local Westwind flour that would be comparable to the great loaves that I have been making using the BRM flours.

Other than the flours listed above, I kept all variables the same. I used 2% salt, 20% levain, 4-hr bulk fermentation with approximate 0.5-hr folds, and kept the dough temperature at the 78 - 80 degree range. After a 30-hr bench rest and structural shaping, I retarted both loaves in the fridge for about 10 hours before baking them in combo dutch ovens pre-heated to 500 degrees and then dropped to 450 degrees when I loaded the loaves. I removed the lid of the combo ovens after 0.5 hr to get the crust going. One thing I did differently was that I had a single central slash on the BRM loaf as opposed to 3 slashes on the Westwind loaf.

During the bulk fermentation, the BRM felt like it was developing really well, getting silky and smooth. The Westwind was more sticky and harder to handle but still showed OK signs of fermentation and gluten development. During the initial shaping and final shaping though, I had a really hard time handling the Westwind dough.

Ok, enough said... the results are in the photos. The loaf with the better oven spring (the front loaf) is the BRM loaf. The aromas were distinctly different from the two loaves... the Westwind loaf smelled sweeter, almost like a cinnamon-like aroma. When I cut into it after letting the loaves cool for a few hoursThe loavesBRM crumbWestwind Crumb, I got a really sticky crumb, with mostly little holes and a few big ugly holes (my apologies for the ugly photo of the cut loaf over the burner). The BRM crumb and flavor were great, which wasn't surprising to me. You can see the big crumbs in that loaf (the photos with the natural lighting).

I really want to be able to get great loaves using this local flour. I remember having a similar experience when I gave this local flour a shot a couple of years ago and I didn't try any further. This time I don't want to give up, but I feel like I need the wisdom, knowledge and experience of a sourdough master to troubleshoot and adjust accordingly to get that near perfect loaf.

I would very much appreciate any opinions, ideas, suggestions... Thank you!

Hazim

tchism's picture
tchism

You might try not treating the two flours the same. you may have to experiment with the new (local) flour in terms of hydration, proofing times and so forth. Pay attention to how the CM AP / BRM dough feels and looks at the different stages of your process and then strive to coax the Westwind / BRM dough to look and feel the same. 

In the end, it might just come down to taste. I tried PFM Morbread flour a year or so ago because I could buy it in larger quantities at a lower price than the KA AP and Bread flours i had been using. while I could get the loaves to come out looking the same, the taste from the KA flour jest seemed better to me, so I went back to it.

Good luck! 

hazimtug's picture
hazimtug

Tchism- thanks for the response... I agree that I need to do some experimentation. I am thinking that maybe I am underproofing the local flour as it may not have the same enzyme activity level as you would expect from the BRM whole wheat flour. Not sure... that's where it gets exciting. Now that I think about it based on your suggestion to try and make the local flour dough look and feel similar to/same as the BRM dough, I let all the BRM flour soak for 7 hours (same duration as the final levain build) before mixing in the levain to make the final dough, but for the local flour, I just mixed it in. Both had 40 minutes or so of additional autolyse after the initial mixing. I better spell out the process for both and use it as a guide....

Regards,

Hazim

 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

17% protein in flour of any kind, but I would like to try some,  or a 30 hour bench rest before a 20 hour retard ( must be 3 not 30 - you must have one of my two fingers for typing) but you can't forget that crust and crumb on the BRM bread!  Just beautiful.  Well done, thanks for posting your experiment and

Happy baking

hazimtug's picture
hazimtug

Dabrownman- 30-hr bench rest sounds a bit too long! Don't know how I was typing, but I meant a 0.5-hr bench rest and a 10-hr retard in the fridge. Tomorrow, I will use the same formula I used for westwind but with a longer autolyse (or pre-soak I should say). I am thinking maybe I can get some more enzyme activity going before I hit the bulk fermentation. We'll see... Thanks for the comments as well.

chouette22's picture
chouette22

... sure looks like a winner! Great bread! Yes, I too believe that you need to experiment more and I am tempted to join you in this endeavor as I too live in SE Michigan and didn't even know of this mill. Thanks for letting me know, and now I need to see when I can get myself to that store to check out their flours. 

hazimtug's picture
hazimtug

Thanks chouette22... keep me posted on your findings with the Westwind flour if you happen to try them.

 

Hazim

polo's picture
polo

Am I reading correctly? One loaf at 95% hydration and the other at 100%. That must have been difficult to handle.

The bread looks wonderful to me.

hazimtug's picture
hazimtug

Hi Polo- actually, I am doing some more trials today, and looking at my notes, the local flour bread was hydrated at 85%, not 95% as it was mainly bread flour. The BRM WW flour though was hydrated at 100%. Since it is whole wheat, it can handle that much hydration. As I have been baking solely high hydration breads like this over the last couple of years, i.e., 2 loaves a week approximately, I believe I have gotten some practice in to handle whole wheat doughs like that... I really like the extensibility I can get with such hydration, plus the added benefit of boosted fermentation (loose dough resulting in happier yeast/bacteria), better gelatinization during the bake and of course the increased digestibility of the whole wheat.

 

Hazim

polo's picture
polo

............I am impressed at your dough handling skills. I sometimes have trouble with 75% :)

Very nice!

golgi70's picture
golgi70

Looks picture perfect.  Pretty amazing actually.  As for the new flour you might give the mill a call and check in on those specs.  As DAB said 17% is pretty unheard of.  What is the protein on the previous bread flour you were using?  I have two types of white flour at work HP @ 14% or so and Artisan @ 11.5% and our ciabatta formula uses the Artisan.  A few times mistakes have been made using the HP and the dough is dry and finishes maybe a bit larger but with a poor crumb structure for a ciabatta.  If the new flour truly is very strong you may need to increase that hydration to match your previous flour.  If you mix by hand you could run a test by doing both side by side and adjust the hydrtaion on the new formula as you go to match the consistency of the other dough.  Then you'll have them baking side by side too and be able to do a true comparison.  Just a few ideas.  Lovely bread none the less.

Happy Experimenting 

Josh

burnunit's picture
burnunit

Others have remarked on it too—the 17% protein figure on that local flour of yours. That's extraordinary. It wallops Sir Lancelot. You'll have to call it Sir Galahad Flour. That said, I was thinking the crumb in your locally sourced bread looked familiar. Maybe that 17% flour is having an impact: don't those holes look like bagel holes? Here, I google image searched for bagel crumb and here's an image from TFL. Look similar? If you have an arch-protein flour on your hands maybe you need to cut it back—use some AP? 

random bagel image I found via google

hazimtug's picture
hazimtug

Good point actually... I did try mixing it with some AP flour from the same company. Unfortunately, I am not getting the performance I want. The dough turns out either too weak, or seemingly OK in terms of consistency and feel in my hands, but at the end I get a sticky crumb. The aromas that come off the breads are very good though... I will have to revisit this local flour as I have been making some pretty good breads using the very dependable organic KA all purpose (more like Type 55), BRM whole wheat and some dark rye from the local company. Thanks for the input!

 

Hazim

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi hazimtug,

The 17% protein read may not be indicative of good quality gluten potential in the flour.   It merely tells you the flour is high in protein, which does not necessarily equate to strength.

I think your local flour is lacking in amylase content, hence the tendency to go sticky.   Ask the Westwind Co. what the Falling Number reading is for their flour.   It should be a minimum of 250 seconds, and preferably nearer to 300 seconds for long fermentation breads.   It sounds to me like there has been no allowance made for amylase content during milling.   Millers commonly treat flour with either fungal amylase or diastatic malt flour to give consistency of performance.   You can add diastatic malt powder to your bread at 0.5% on flour to adjust for this.

Best wishes

Andy