The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can't source strong flour

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bronc's picture
bronc

Can't source strong flour

Since this is my first post I'd first like to thank you for creating and maintaining such a resourceful website. There is so much information about bread making that still feel overwhelmed even though I've been reading it for the last couple of days. 

I created my starter a week and a half ago with the intention to get into sourdough breads. During that time I watched a number of videos on kneading (Richard Bertinet's method), stretch and fold techniques, and etc. in order to have an idea what process to follow. Yesterday I finally had some free time to bake a loaf so I went to the store to buy some white flour (I feed my starter with wholemeal wheat flour). I live in Bulgaria and the flour types here are quite different from the ones in the US or even in Western Europe. It turned out that the highest protein flour I could find had only 9.5% protein content which is lower than even the AP flour you have in the US. Having no choice I had to settle with it and I didn't think it would make such a huge difference. Well, it does. It looks like low-protein flour absorbs way less water than US AP flour does which means that kneading the flour is a nightmare because it basically sticks so much that I can't get it of my hands. The bread which I tried was a 60% hydration one and I used Bertinet's method of 'kneading' but even that didn't help and the dough was more of a pancake batter than bread dough. Today I tried another one with a 50% hydration level and it's a bit better but even after 15-20mins of stretching and beating it still sticks to the counter. What can I do in this case? If I increase the amount of flour I'm worried that the dough will turn out too dry but otherwise I can't handle it..

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

9.5% protein flour is definitely going to be a problem in your sourdough baking, because it will not have adequate gluten formation. In the U.S. we call 9.5% cake flour. What is the protein % of your whole wheat flour? You may have to use a combination of that and the 9.5%. Or, you may just have to find a mail order source.

bronc's picture
bronc

I just checked the whole wheat flour and it's 12% which I guess is much better. Is there a way to figure out the exact proportions of AP and wholemeal wheat flour? I will look around for flours with higher protein content but I don't think I'll find something much better. Ordering flour by mail will be really expensive as I will probably have to order it from the UK or somewhere else within Europe..

neonmoonx's picture
neonmoonx

Would adding vital wheat gluten help if it's available?

Petek's picture
Petek

A local bakery may have access to higher-protein flour and might be willing to sell you some.

Elagins's picture
Elagins

Look for Type 1050 or 1150. These are higher-extraction flours and will contain more protein.  One thing you should be aware of as well is that European wheat is softer than North American wheat, so if you can find flour marked "Manitoba," you'll be getting a stronger flour.

Stan Ginsberg
www.nybakers.com

bronc's picture
bronc

Thank you all! I will look around for vital wheat gluten and for higher protein content flours. I've sent out a couple of emails to local millers so I'll keep you posted. The second bread actually turned out pretty decent: http://imgur.com/a/kiFLb It tastes very nice - chewy inside with a thin crunchy crust. There is also a mild sour taste which complements the texture. There is still room for improvement but for my second bread I think it's rather okay.

neonmoonx's picture
neonmoonx

The pictures of you brad looks great! I'd be very proud of that! Good color, nice crumb, good shape... well done!

breadbakingbassplayer's picture
breadbakingbass...

You could also make a biga preferment at 50% hydration to give your final dough more strength...