The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What exactly is bread flour?

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lherber21's picture
lherber21

What exactly is bread flour?

Newbie here and I searched and searched, but I can't find the answer.

If I grind this hard white wheat from augason farms, http://www.augasonfarms.com/Cereals-and-Grains/Grains/Hard-White-Wheat45-LB-Pail-UPC-78716-00103 , will it be bread flour or replace bread flour in a recipe? 

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

Clicking on the "nutrition facts" link at the site you provided, I see that there is 6g protein per 1/4 cup serving.  Most mainstream bread flours clock in at 4-5g protein per 1/4 cup serving.  Since it's higher in protein it may produce a chewyer crumb.  But, not having baked with it, I know not.  Bottom line is that it's a flour high, very high in protein and I've failed to find any opinions online for it.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Here in the UK the bread flour is the flour with the highest protein, that can vary between brands.

The one I buy has 14% protein.

There are cheaper ones that have 11.5% , 12.5%....

I rather pay a bit more but know that my bread has the best chance to become wonderful.

 

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

wheat-only bread is way too high and decreases quality rather than increases it. Jeffrey Hamelman agrees with me :)

14% protein flours are suited for specialty products like bagels, challah, bialys or to mix with low gluten or no gluten flours when making, for example, a rye-wheat bread. However, in the latter situation bread flour is perfectly suitable as well.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I use this high protein all the time for my breads and always get great results.:)

I use it for pure Wheat breads and for breads with Wholemeal flour or Rye Flour in it.

 

 

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

yourself a few pounds and even make better bread with lower protein flour, it's a win-win in my mind. If the increase in quality will not be evident, at least you're spending less on flour.

If you're interested where I'm getting this from, read "Bread", p. 146, bottom of page panel. There's a more detailed discussion in the first part, p. 33, left column.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I shall send my husband shopping in a minute and tell him to get the Flour from Aldi this time, I want to know now lol.

I do mix Wholemeal in my bread though. hmmm

I do not know the book, do not have it so can not check it out.

Who is the Author.

 

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

Jeffrey Hamelman. One of the best bread baking books in English. I have the second edition so the pages I cited could be different in the first.

adri's picture
adri

In Austria, the cheapest ecologically grown wheat flour you can get is from the Hofer (The Austrian version of Aldi / Traders Joe) and is bread flour.

Adrian

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I just send my hubby to Aldi.

The Flour is called Strong Flour, has 11.5% Protein.

Is that like the ones you get from Aldi/Traders Joe?

If not, how much % Protein is in the one you get.

 

My hubby also got me Strong Wholemeal Flour from Aldi which has 12.5% Protein.

So I guess, since I use a mix of both, I should be alright.

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

I can't tell you much about brands, but mostly I use local flour with 11.3-11.8% protein or an imported Finnish flour with 12.3% protein.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

The one my hubby got me from Aldi now has 11.5% Protein, I do hope that it is enough though.

I mix it with a Strong Wholemeal Flour that has 12.5% Protein.

I just see what the bread will look like tomorrow.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Ok, Yesterday I got myself a flour with 11.9 % Protein instead of my usual 14% Protein.

I baked a bread, same formula as the one that I usually make, came out of the Oven 2 hours ago and it is NOT of the quality that I am used to with my 14% Protein bread.

So, for me , I prefer the higher Protein flour , it gives me better bread, much better crumb structure, a better crust.

But it was worth a try , it would have saved some money  had it worked.

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

but since you have certainly not used all of it, I'd say take another shot with 2-3% lower hydration :)

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Oh I will using this flour up, that will be another 4 loafes with this flour, after that it is back to my my higher Protein flour.

But I am glad I did try, as you said, it could have saved me some money, and that is always good.:)

 

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

I would recommend using this flour either as feed for your starter, or to make quick breads, like biscuits and pancakes. It would be a waste to try to make bread the usual way. You could try developing the gluten more with extra autolyse time and extra S & F's if you really want to make your regular loaves. But, they will never really be the same.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I shall use it for my Dinner Rolls and my Cinamon Buns and Pancakes.

But I am glad I tried so I now know for sure that it does not work * for me *.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

If the flours are 11.9% and 14% Protein, they are basically AP and Bread flour respectively. There are other proteins in the flour other than gluten. I'd agree that a flour with only 11.9% total protein will not make good bread, especially if mixed with a wholegrain flour, even if the wholegrain flour has a higher gluten content.

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

in the post directly below, by stating that what you call "bread flour" starts at 11% protein. And 11.9% protein flour is more than enough to make bread. I've make fine bread with 10.3% grade C flour (well, OK it was a grade C so there was more wet gluten in there, but still).

This is not really even in dispute. Almost any baker of higher caliber recommends using flour with a reasonable amount of protein: Jeffrey Hamelman I've already mentioned (11.5 - 12% protein for all of his levain breads), Ken Forkish in Flour Water Salt Yeast (11-12% protein), Chad Robertson (11-12% protein, explicitly recommends avoiding too high protein in Tartine 3), Ciril Hitz (11.5-11.7% in Baking Artisan Bread), Daniel DiMuzio (more than 10%, avoid too high) and even Peter Reinhart says to go with higher than 11.5%, but not as high as 14% in Crust and Crumb.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Well, I am sorry MisterTT but I baked all my Breads with the * Extra Strong Bread Flour * since I started Baking.

It is , as I said 14% Protein and makes the most beautiful Bread, wonderful crumb & crust and the colour of the bread is golden brown.

I always use Wholemeal Flour in my breads.

I used, as I said, the same formula , same Technique, same length of bulk fermentation , shaping and final proofing time.

All I can say is that the bread with the lower Protein % did not give me a good bread.

It was a okish bread but noting to feel exited about, certainly nothing that I am used to with my higher Protein % flour.

In the UK a great Baker * Paul Hollywood * , in his books always says: Extra Strong Bread Flour, that is how I started and that is the Flour that gives me the best results.

I can say it now with 100% certainty as I have now used both , high and low Protein Flour.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Read my post again. I said 11% gluten counts as bread flour, not 11% protein. I also said twice now that gluten content and protein content are not the same thing.

I realize that it is technically possible to make bread with inferior flour, but we aren't talking about that. We're talking about the obvious difference in quality you get when doing so.

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

11% gluten? If you mean wet gluten, then the percentage is way too low. Even cake flour has not less than 22% wet gluten, you can check in any basic food science book, I'm referencing a Lithuanian one.

There is no convenient way to measure what % of "dry" gluten there is in the proteins because, well, there isn't any of it at all until you wet the flour. After wetting the flour, wash away the starch and what you're left with is wet gluten content. Of course there are strict guidelines on lab procedures for this sort of thing, so you can't just do it at home, but that's not the point anyways.

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Bread flour is refined white flour milled from hard winter wheat. It has a gluten content between 11% to 14%. Higher protein doesn't mean higher gluten. Whole grain and wholemeal flours have higher protein content because there is more protein in the bits that are sifted out from refined flours. In other words, the amount of the protein in bread flour that is gluten is more than the amount of the protein in whole grain flour that is gluten. Only the gluten will contribute to the structure of the bread. Flour with a higher gluten content than bread flour is used for pizza, bagels, etc. while lower gluten flours are better suited to biscuits and other quick breads (AP flour) or pastries and cakes (Cake flour).

According to the brief description of the wheat at that link you provided, it is high in gluten content and " it’s perfect for bread making, especially French bread and pizza crusts." I don't know if you noticed, but it is not flour they are selling, but the whole wheat berries, which you must grind yourself. However, once you grind it, it should make good bread, and if you grind it fine, it will be a good substitute for bread flour, with much better nutritional value.

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

And to refine freshly ground whole meal flour, one can sift it with a tamis.  They come in different sized "holes".

lherber21's picture
lherber21

Yep, planned on grinding it. Wasn't sure if it could also be used for bread as well. Also, just found it as Sam's club for $29 with free shipping. Will have to try it out. 

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

Again, with a tamis you can sift your own ground flour as fine as you want.

 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

What exactly is bread flour?

Bread flour is a white flour,  like all purpose flour,  that is generally made from hard spring wheat with a high protein content.  Like all purpose flour, the process for milling bread flour is complicated and extensive requiring elaborate and expensive milling machines . Milling your own grain creates a 100% whole grain flour that bears little or no resemblance to what is referred to as "bread flour".

Jeff

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

and the great bakers he cites.  High gluten flour is good for many things including bagels, bialy's and some breads where there is a high % of whole grains especially those with spelt, rye and soft white wheat in them where the gluten in low and the bran cuts the gluten strands.  I shoot for an overall protein of about 11.5% for breads.  I don't like high gluten flour for pizzas either.  You want strong but you want extensibilty to get the crust thin without tearing - 11.5% protein is perfect for that too.

If I amusing a low protein, cheap, AP flour of 10% protein with a 50% whole grain bread I will add VWG to the mix to get the gluten up to a reasonable level.  The dough and bread doesn't know the difference between the gluten in the flour and the gluten in the VWG since they are exactly the same thing.  If there is a lot of spelt and rye in the mix with the low grade AP then I put in more VWG.  Anything over 11.5% protein is usually a big waste of money for a normal bread and not required from my experience..

Flour millers usually don't tell us what the gluten content is in their milled product.

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

it is required by law to list wet gluten content in flour along with ash content. It is usually done by capital letters, A denoting highest gluten, E denoting the lowest. In practice there is usually just C or D flour, C is good for bread, D is all-purpose.

So for example if the French buy T55 with unspecified gluten content, in some places essentially the same flour could be anything from 550A to 550E. Got a bag of 550C sitting in my cupboard, says it's 11.8% protein.

In a post long ago, Mariana (who, I think, is a chemist or food scientist of some sort) explained to me that in European flours the actual gluten content varies widely regardless of protein, while in American flours if you multiply the protein content by 2.4 you would get the percentage of wet gluten. That is why there no need for millers to denote the gluten content, while in Europe this is not the case, so sometimes it is denoted.

Here a link to the post if anyone's interested: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/246776#comment-246776

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

MisterTT,

Apparently, we don't have enough information to make any sense of all this information regarding gluten and protein. If there is only 10% protein content in a flour, it would be mathematically impossible for that number to increase, unless the water that it takes to form gluten is actually a third ingredient in the gluten itself. I've never heard of that being the case. It seems that the basis for measuring the gluten after it's formed is different than the basis for measuring the initial protein content. All the sources I've read say that the gluten-forming proteins are roughly 80% of the total protein in the flour. That means that if the gluten were to become 2.4 times the total protein content, it would actually have to become 3 times the amount of the proteins that it is made of. So, 10g of gluten-forming proteins would become 30g of gluten? There must be 20g of some other ingredient there. Bottom line - we're both wrong, but basic math is on my side, so I'm less wrong - until we have more information.

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I tried to use the Flour with lower Protein % and I can say, compared to the bead I do get with my higher Protein %, it is inferior, in crust, crumb and looks as it broke all over the place.

So maybe the flour in the UK is different from the ones in the USA, I do not know.

All I can say is , no matter what bakers and book authors say thatuse low protein flour , the bread was not good at all.

I used the same techniques time table and everything as I always do with my other flour that is higher in Protein.

I have no Idea about wet gluten and I still get to terms with other things like Bakers % and and and... but I tried and know that I do not like it for my breads.

 

PetraR's picture
PetraR

sorry about that, changed it.