The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

vital wheat gluten

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flour-girl's picture
flour-girl

vital wheat gluten

Hi --


After using some vital wheat gluten at culinary school recently, I picked up a bag of it at the store today.


I made the 100 percent whole-wheat loaves on the back of the package and they turned out great.


Just wondering if this is a product you all use in your breads and, if so, how you put it to good use.


You can see the recipes and photos of the Honey-Oatmeal Bread at Flour Girl.


 


Happy baking!


Heather

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I use it in most of my 100% whole wheat breads.  I believe it's suggested to use 1 TBSP of vital wheat gluten for each cup of whole wheat flour.   For those 100% whole wheat loaves that I made without wheat gluten, they just didn't rise as high as those baked with wheat gluten. 



hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

I've never added wheat gluten to any doughs, and I don't think I will either. Just the other day, I read another newspaper article about the possible connection between coeliac disease and this additive.

flour-girl's picture
flour-girl

I'd never heard of that connection before. I'll have to check that out.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Vital Wheat Gluten is derived from wheat.  Assuming that it's made by a reliable, respectable milling company, it's just as natural as adding wheat bran or wheat germ to your bread.  So anyone with a gluten intolerance should avoid it, of course, but then they have to avoid most cereal grains.  I've used Canadian vital wheat gluten and it seems fine.


I've worked in bakeries where the whole wheat bread formulas absolutely needed extra gluten to get decent volume.  Looking back on it, the flour there was organic, and at that time it was difficult to get enough reliably strong wheat from organic farmers (or so our miller told us).  The miller just didn't have as much selection, and some of the wheat lacked enough gluten to overcome the weight and cutting action of the bran.  The number of organic wheat farmers and the quality of organic flours has increased immeasurably since then.


On the other hand, close to the same time, I worked for a different whole grain bakery that did obtain very strong hard spring wheat -- but it wasn't organic.  We just made a sponge out of half of the whole wheat flour and used extra yeast to provide a lighter texture.  No vital wheat gluten. 


I'd say that the texture of the two different whole wheat breads was comparable.  By the way, I'm not endorsing either method here -- I'm just recalling what I experienced then.


So, conclusions?  If you want to avoid using vital wheat gluten, get strong, hard spring wheat.  I think King Arthur's standard whole wheat flour is a spring wheat, but I'm not certain about their white whole wheat -- check their web site.  Then use a sponge of some sort to generate more bacterial activity and greater acidity, which strengthens the gluten you already have.


You can use a sourdough starter as well.  It's acidity will reinforce the strength of the gluten.


--Dan DiMuzio

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Dan, thanks for sharing your experience.  You're right, if one is severely allergic to gluten then all wheat products should be avoided.  I have done a home experiment to compare the results of a loaf of 100% whole wheat with VWG to a loaf without.  The result was about 10 - 15% difference in height. 


dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Yeah, that sounds about right, but you can vary the percentage of VWG in your formula to get more or less strength as you wish.


One thing I forgot to mention before was that, no matter what kind of wheat-based flour you're using, the greater the quantity of gluten-forming proteins, the longer you'll have to mix the dough to get an acceptable amount of gluten development.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I often add it to my 100% whole wheat and 100% sprouted wheat breads; like Dan says it helps with volume. I use about 1 tablespoon per cup of flour. You have to up the liquid a little for every tablespoon of VWG you use too--think it is about 1 ounce per tablespoon.


--Pamela

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I am making another two loaves of sourdough cottage cheest dill breads just now.  I used four T of gluten so I added an addition 1/4 C of water in the dough.  For some strange reasons, the dough seemed to be wet.  I had to go out so left the dough at home to rise for four hours.  Have just returned home and found he dough not quite double!  I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that I didn't knead it as long as I normally do (had to leave in a hurry so just kneaded for 10 minutes instead of 15).  Think I should add some more flour and hand knead it a bit more before the final rise?




dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Once you get a feel for the strength vs. extensibility that characterizes the whole wheat dough that works well, you want to achieve that every time.  You can add more gluten, but you'll have to mix longer to achieve that same feel. 


And, as Pamela just mentioned, you'll have to add a bit more water to achieve that same feel as well.


--Dan DiMuzio

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I have been home for three hours and am still struggling with the dough.  The gluten didn't get developed properly so the dough was not firm.  It was almost like I'd forgotten to add salt into the dough.  But I am sure I did. 


Anyways, since the dough had already risen for 4 hours I didn't want to wait any longer.  I proceeded to punch down then slowly worked more flour into the dough.  Painstaking slow, one tablespoon at a time.  After adding 1/2 cup of flour, the dough looked more like a dough for loaf instead of ciabetta.  You know what they said the dough should look like a baby's bottom.  It looked like a baby's bottom all right, with a rash!  I worked enough flour into the dough and let it rest for 20 minutes, hoping it would somehow hold better. 


Ten minutes later, I went back to work at it a bit more.  Let it rest some more then tried to shape it.  I saw it was still not firm enough so I divided the dough then worked a bit more flour in each one of them.  It was finally firm enough for shaping but the tension was still wrong.  At that point, I knew I didn't have much time left before the dough would give up so I had to let it go for final rise. 


I know the tops are going to crack and pull sideway but there's nothing much I can do about that at this point.  I have a pan of hot water in the oven directly under the two loaves, right now,  and I will let them sit there for another two hours then will bake them.


I don't normally have problems with a loaf of bread with cracked top but these two are ordered loaves and I would like to make them more presentable.  If they don't turn out right, I will have to email my customers to tell them that their breads will be one day late. Shorted my dough 5 minutes and now I have to work an additional three hours trying to make it work.  Lesson well learned.



dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Al, I'm a little confused here.  I didn't realize that you were running any sort of business.  Is the bread that you are selling made with a dough that you have already mastered?


Please don't view my comments as harsh, but I wouldn't take orders for loaves that are made with a dough I haven't completely figured out.  If the process of mixing or baking it still leaves you with questions, I don't recommend selling it at all.


I can't make an accurate analysis of what's going wrong here without a lot more information, and a lot more back-and-forth between us.  So:


1) please post the entire recipe you're using, together with directions for mixing, fermenting, dividing, shaping, and baking.  Be sure to include the goal temperature for the finished dough, and the recommended baking temperature.


2) If a pre-ferment is being used, describe it and use a camera-phone or whatever to get a  snapshot of the pre-ferment JUST BEFORE you add it to the dough.  Take its temperature and provide it with the photo.


3) Take snapshots of the dough right after you have mixed it.  Take its temperature and provide it with the photo.


4) Take a snapshot of the dough after it has fermented as long as it is supposed to.  Take its temperature and provide it with the photo.


5) Take a snapshot of the loaf right after you have shaped it.  Take another one just before you load it in the oven.  Take a last shot of the finished loaf.


Post all this here and I'll come back and take a look at it.


--Dan DiMuzio

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Dan, thank you for your reply.  I want to clarify that I am not running some bakery business. A few people from work and school are willing to pay me to make them a loaf once a week.  I used to give them my breads but I guess they didn't want to keep taking it for free so they decided to pay me.  I also like the idea of getting a few bucks a loaf because the money I get back allows me to keep my hobby as a home baker. 


I don't take anything you say harsh.  Despite of 20 years of yeasted bread making experience, I am fairly new to sourdough.  I understand there are a lot that I can learn from everyone in this site. 


The dough that I used was pretty stright forward and I have done it many times.  The only difference I did yesterday was that I had to leave my house in a rush and didn't have enough time to knead the dough as I always do.  When I came back, I noticed the dough was not quite where I would like it to be so I tried to work at it.  Fortunately, my experience dealing with yeasted bread did save the day.  The loaves turned out just fine and they will be delivered this afternoon.


I have posted pictures of the final products here


 



http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/11889/despite-struggles-these-two-turned-out-all-right-i-think


When I wrote my last post I was more thinking out loud but probably too loud that my message confused people.  I apology for the misunderstanding.    I thank you for taking your time to reply my post.  That's very kind of you.  People like yourself are what keeping this site one of the best on the Internet.  Best regards!  Al

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

I'm glad your bread turned out well.  You should be proud.  It looks very good on the outside, but the crumb structure is excellent.  I can see why your friends want to pay you for the bread.


The thing I'd point out for your future bread work is that just about anything you change from your regular routine will have an effect on the dough.  You shaved about 1/3 of your usual kneading time off of the original dough, and that would have had two effects, at least.  One was less gluten development, which I think you already realized, and the other was less warmth from your hands.


It's true that friction with hand kneading is minimal when compared to a powered mixer, but your hands are nearly 100 degrees.  If hand-working is all there is, then less kneading would make for a lower final dough temperature than you normally get.


Your experience with commercially-yeasted breads served you well, because, as I think you'll find soon, sourdough baking is a lot like "yeasted" baking.  It's just a lot slower.

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Yes, I realized what a difference 5 minutes could make.  It's a lesson well learned.  I am glad too that the loaves turned out well.  Since I started making sourdough breads I make my efforts to avoid using commercial yeast.  I still use it for the odd baking but for my breads, they are all sourdough these days.


verruto4life's picture
verruto4life

Pertaining to Bread Baking I love using VWG in my ingredients for my Whole Wheat Breads that I mill my own wheat berries for my flour.

Buying VWG in large qty's is very expensive and if it is Organic, it's extremely rare as I've only found 1 company and it's $47.00 for a 5# bag.

My question is how do they make VWG and does anyone know the ingredients?

I know how to make Gluten or seitan, is VWG the raw gluten (the stuff that looks like brains), then dehydrated and ground into powder. Is this VWG?

I have got to know the ingredients and how this stuff is made, I'm just hoping its what I just mentioned but I'm probably not talking apples to apples.

Please Help.

Thank you in advance.

 

Ronnie

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Gluten is the protein that remains after the starch has been washed out of wheat flour.  It is then dried and ground into a powder.  As such, it has no 'ingredients' and isn't 'made'.  It is simply a fraction of the wheat flour. 

It really isn't necessary to use vital wheat gluten in bread making.  In most cases, simply using techniques that make the most of the naturally occurring gluten in your flour will yield appetizing bread.  You save money, too.  There's also the fact that a lot of the gluten being sold originates in China, which hasn't had a good track record for producing safe and healthful food products in recent years. 

Paul