The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

"High gluten" and "high protein" flour

DrPr's picture
DrPr

"High gluten" and "high protein" flour

What do the terms "high gluten" and "high protein" mean when it comes to flour that is optimal for bread baking?  Are they the same thing or should your flour have mostly one or the other?

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

Same thing AFAIK -- gluten is formed from proteins, and high gluten flours are high protein flours, as most of the protein in flour is gluten or will form gluten. I don't understand it well on a technical level, but for your purposes the answer is yes. BTW, Wiki says



Gluten is a composite of the proteins gliadin and glutenin. These exist, conjoined with starch, in the endosperms of some grass-related grains, notably wheat, rye, and barley. Gliadin and glutenin compose about 80% of the protein contained in wheat seed.



Not all recipes will use high-gluten (aka high-protein) flour, though.


http://www.pastryitems.com/baking_information.htm provides the following info:



Protein - the framework of bread


Wheat flour is unique because it in the only cereal grain that possesses gluten-forming proteins. Gluten and protein are closely related, but not synonymous. When combined with water under mixing stress, the proteins in the flour will form what is called gluten. This gluten structure is responsible for providing extensibility, elasticity and gas-retaining properties to yeast-leavened baked goods. The quantity of the gluten is proportionate to the amount of protein in the flour. The amount of gluten will increase as the protein content increases.



 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hamelman's book has a discussion of bread ingredients -- including flour -- that should answer your questions and provide a ready reference.

photojess's picture
photojess

since it didn't get answered in another thread, but can I add VWG to KA bread flour to make it equivelent to high gluten flour, and if so, how much?


I know that's the purpose of VWG, but what ratio would make it equiv?


 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

The question about VWG related to adding it to bread flour, not rye or WW. 


The KAF link only addresses rye and whole grains.

twgiffin's picture
twgiffin

........... your response helps the poster, HOW?

photojess's picture
photojess

Dan and others have given me some info to work with in the other current high gluten thread that's going.

Steve H's picture
Steve H

Just a thought, you can probably do this by a little stoichiometry if you have a target percentage to shoot for. I think vital wheat gluten (VWG) is around 85%-90% usually, whereas bread flour is maybe 12-14%..


I might be rusty on my math, but I think the answer is % = (T-F)/(G-F) where % is the percent of VWG you should substitute, F is the percent gluten in the flour, G is the percent gluten in the VWG, and T is the target percentage of gluten.


For example, to boost KA Bread Flour to 20%, I got a subtitution of about 8% VWG.  I did this kind of guesstimation to make bagels and they came out pretty darned good.


Steve

yozzause's picture
yozzause

We used to add EXTRA GLUTEN to a bread that was sold as HIGH PROTEIN bread, cant quite remember how much was added but i do remember it would often  suck in at the sides after release from the tin especially if lightly baked . Almost to the point that it was not really saleble. You should be able to get a good loaf from a flour that has a protein content (gluten) anything over 10%.


additions to wholemeal and ryes are helpfull if you prefer a well gassed loaf with an open texture, or just enjoy them as a more dense alternative.


regards Yozzause 

Dcn Marty's picture
Dcn Marty

I could be wrong, but I seem to recall soy flour is high protein, but low gluten. If so, we need to be quite specific in our recipes about what is called for.

photojess's picture
photojess

that a high protein flour would also have high gluten.  so if KA's high gluten flour had more gluten, then by adding some VWG it would just increase the gluten.


(I don't know if it has protein or not )

DrPr's picture
DrPr

Yeah, that is kind of confusing, but soy is high in protein. Perhaps soy flour works fine for low-gluten baking because of its protein content. 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Legumes don't contain any gluten-forming proteins.  The French sometimes add a little soy flour to their fairly weak wheat-derived flour to encourage oxidation and add a bit of strength to the dough.


Professor Raymond Calvel (who taught Julia Child the techniques in her Mastering v.II) warns against the use of soy flour or fava bean flour to oxidize dough because it bleaches out and destroys the carotene pigments responsible for much of the bread's flavor and aroma.


--Dan DiMuzio


 

AndyM's picture
AndyM

What might be confusing is that Protein is a general term - there are lots of different kinds of proteins in each type of grain.  Two of these types of protein are glutenin and gliadin.  When these two proteins come into contact with water, they form a network of interlacing strands that is referred to as gluten.  In wheats that are used for bread flour, these two forms of protein (glutenin and gliadin) happen to be very prevalent and very nicely balanced.  There are other proteins in wheat flour, just as there are other proteins in other flours, such as rye, soy, barley, etc.  This is why a flour might be high in protein, but not high in gluten.  Rys, for example, has some gluten forming proteins (so gluten-intolerant people should probably also avoid rye), but more of the non-gluten forming proteins.  Soy is usually considered to be a "gluten-free" food, though I don't know if this means that it has neither glutenin nor gliadin, or if it might have some of one, but not the other (recall that you need both glutenin and gliadin, in contact with water, to make gluten).


The percentages of "protein" that are reported on bags of wheat flour are used as a guide to how much gluten one can expect in the flour.  Flour intended for bread production might have up to 10-12% "protein".  Flour marketed as "all-purpose" might have a protein content of 8-11% "protein" (note that there is some overlap here - terms like "bread flour" and "all-purpose" flour are marketing terms, not scientific classifications).  Pastry flours (which are also made of wheat) often have a much lower protein content.  Ultimately, though, what is most relevant for the bread baker is the amount, and balance, of the two gluten-forming proteins in particular. 


I agree with the poster above who noted that more gluten is not always better for bread production.  Too much gluten can result in a texture that is rubbery, and to most tastes, unpleasant.  Most rustic and artisan bread bakers prefer a moderate amount of gluten; wonderful, light and airy bread can be made with "all-purpose" flours.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Rye is fairly well-off in gliadin, but has very little glutenin to bond with it to form gluten.  Barley (and oats, I think) also contains gliadin -- it is the gliadin that actually triggers gluten intolerance.


--Dan DiMuzio

photojess's picture
photojess

it's cool what I continue to learn on here, about stuff that I thought wouldn't ever matter, but it does.


So if from what I gather from what posters wrote below this entry, that high gluten isn't necessarily a pleasant flour for baking with, then why bother using it?  Apparently it has some purpose, but I think like I wrote above, I may just either not worry about it, since I am using a good quality bread flour anyway.


It would be interesting to do a side by side comparison though, of adding the VWG to one loaf and not using it for another loaf, and see if there is a noticable difference.

Steve H's picture
Steve H

For what it is worth, when I added wheat gluten to my bread flour to make bagels, the dough was considerably more elastic and the bubbles were much firmer.  It kind of reminded me of chewing gum.  When the bagels were baked, they were a nice consistency though.  I think VWG helps reinforce the bread's crumb structure and helps obtain an open crumb when additives or bits of bran are around to puncture the holes.


I've not done a side-by-side-- I have been happy with my bread flour, but I think it would be interesting to see, especially with a whole wheat bread, maybe 3 different loaves with different amounts of gluten added.  Maybe I will do that this weekend.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Tonight I used KAF bread flour to mix a batch of bagels, instead of my usual HG flour. I added 16 grams of VWG to two pounds of BF.  


While I have no idea what the result will be tomorrow night after the hot water bath and baking, I found the bread flour dough more extensible than the HG dough.


My KitchenAid Artisan didn't labor very much during the nine minutes of mixing.  No comparison to the work it has to do with HG flour.  There's definitely a difference in the mixing and shaping.  


Tomorrow night:  the bake/taste test.

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

High gluten flour (from very hard spring wheat) is marketed by milling companies mostly for use as a bagel flour or as a supplemental flour for use in whole grain mixtures, rye mixtures, and so on.  It's also used by some pizza manufacturers because of its ability to withstand rough handling by machinery, and Challah frequently uses some high-gluten flour in its formula.


One brand name used by a miller is "Bouncer", which should tell you something about HG flour's tactile qualities when used by itself.  It's dough is very, very chewy, and it produces a sort of leathery crust that isn't as crisp as dough made from flours with lower protein. 


Its super strength tends to overcome a lot of issues with enzyme action or excess acidity weakening a dough, so, despite its higher cost, it is used by some folks to make conventional breads.   It's use makes formulas seem more fool-proof, and the volume achieved with a well-developed HG dough is always impressive.


If you're wanting your bread to be that chewy, this is fine.  Still, you should be aware that, if your goal is to reproduce European-style breads as closely as you can with North American flours,  HG flour (at 14% protein) cannot do that.  The use of lower-protein flours in the 10.5-12% protein range, made from hard winter wheat, is the standard against which baguettes and other hearth breads are judged in international competition.  This means that a baguette made from HG flour will in no way resemble an artisanal French baguette.


This is not meant to criticize the use of HG flour in bread baking, as personal preferences should be the factor that decides what you use.  We should be open in recognizing, though, that its use characterizes a baking style that is unique to the baker -- not to an artisanal bread movement.

photojess's picture
photojess

what you are saying Dan.....so an artisanal french baguette is what then?  softer or harder than the HG flour.....I'm assuming softer, but you're 4th paragraph confused me....."The use of lower-protein flours in the 10.5-12% protein range, made from hard winter wheat, is the standard against which baguettes and other hearth breads are judged in international competition.  This means that a baguette made from HG flour will in no way resemble an artisanal French baguette."


 

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Well, in France baguettes are mostly made with T55 flour -- a designation we don't have in North America.  T55 is much weaker than any American bread flour, and weaker than some all-purpose flours.  The "55" refers to its ash content, which is really its bran content - I'll explain some other time.  Some bakers in France choose to use T65, which is a bit higher in bran.  The bran pieces are so finely ground that you usually can't see them like you can in whole wheat flour, but in T65 you might see a slightly more gray color overall.


T55 has no direct co-relative in North American marketing designations, but Professor Calvel (Julia Child's bread teacher) stated that, among North American wheat varieties, hard winter wheat from places like Kansas provides the qualities that you'd want most in your flour IF your goal is faithful reproduction.  It has a nice combination of strength, extensibility, and tolerance to long fermentation.  The crust will be crisp, and the crumb is open and reasonably tender.  I don't own stock in King Arthur and they don't pay me to say this, but their All-Purpose flour available in grocery stores is the same as their commercially branded "Sir Galahad", which is milled entirely from hard winter wheat.  Works great for European-style breads, and many other breads.


Hard spring wheat (from places like Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Montana) is used to make KA's "Bread Flour", but it can veer toward being very strong and NOT extensible.  It also isn't as tolerant of long fermentation as hard winter wheat in most cases, and results will be chewier than those obtained with hard winter wheat, generally.  Not really a problem for pan breads or Challah, possibly rye and whole grain mixtures.


HG flour is the extreme (XTREME!!!!!) version of hard spring wheat flour.  It's marketed for bagels, factory-made pizza dough, and for breads that need a gluten boost without resorting to using vital wheat gluten.

photojess's picture
photojess

thanks for taking the time to explain that.   so I'm ok with not worrying about using or making HG flour now, but I have a new question, which should maybe be a new thread of it's own, but I'll still ask.


You bring up the artisanal breads, and the type of flour used in Europe, so since I don't have your book or any of the other famous books yet, do recipes specify what type of flour to use, or is this something you develop with experience?


As a newbie, how would I know which type of flour to choose, and from where it would be ideally grown?  That's great that you have shared that with us, but now I'm wondering about using the bread flour for all bread recipes....


are there specifics for certain types of flours for certain types of breads?


 

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

Hi photojess,


Yes, the recipes will tell you which type of flour to use. Good recipes will, anyway. The author should always tell you the type you should use (e.g. unbleached bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour), and many will also mention the brand he or she used (e.g. King Arthur) and the particular product name (e.g. Sir Galahad). You should at least try to match the type (e.g. bread flour). If it's convenient for you you can also try to match the brand, but don't get stressed out about that. It's generally fine to use what's available locally.


Different kinds of bread recipes will call for different kinds of flours, yes. There's a little bit of flexibility, but at the beginning you should try to stick to the recipes. Later on as you learn more, you will know whether or not you want to stray a bit from the recipe.


Definitely pick up a good baking book for beginners. I have only very recently learned to bake bread, and am still learning a lot (and making mistakes, LOL). Personally, I like Peter Reinhart's Bread Baking Apprentice. Others may give you other recommendations, but these will differ depending on the baker's expertise, among other things. But I do recommend learning to bake from recipes that give the weight (not just the measurement) of the flour, water and starter, at least.


At the beginning, I don't think you need to worry about where the wheat is grown. Too much information can confuse a beginner. IMO, you need to learn the basics of bread making, how to follow recipes, and what techniques you need. Just pick a good brand of flour that matches the designation in the recipe (all-purpose, bread flour, high-gluten, etc.). Get a scale, btw, and weigh the flour (don't measure in a measuring cup, because you'll get significantly different amounts depending on whether it is packed in the cup or looser, and that can ruin a recipe, especially when you're new to this and don't know what to expect from your dough and how to adjust it if it's off). Be sure to read the lessons and watch the videos on this forum (see top bar for links). Use the search function and read up on things (e.g., search for "Flour FAQ"). Keep notes on everything you do, including the room temperature and your dough temperature, and take pictures at every step of the process so you can post all of this info and the pics and ask for help when things go awry. Don't worry too much, relax, and have fun with it!


Good luck, and happy baking!


Kent in Taiwan

photojess's picture
photojess

I have started baking by weights and do have a scale, and enjoy it.  I have a wild yeast culture growing that is a week and a half old, which has been a lot of fun nurturing and watching it change.


Too much info can be confusing, but I find it really interesting....not so much about where a grain really is grown, but I had no idea it could really matter that much.  I love reading all of the tidbits I pick up on here, that had never even crossed my minds throughout the yrs....


I picked up two books recently from the library, although they didn't have most of what was recommended on here.  I do think I picked up the BBB, but I'm not sure of the author, without looking.

ngaireb's picture
ngaireb

Can I just add a little comment, to the average lay baker who wants to turn out a nice loaf at home standard bakers flour contains all the gluten/protein you need.  High protein flours are not suitable for breads unless you are making a really heavy rye bread.  It's more suited to pasta making.  I've been playing with sourdoughs at home for sometime, I produce white, grain and sometimes nice fruit ones all with just a good Australian Wallaby Bakers flour off the supermarket shelf.


So unless you are in a commercial situation don't get too stressed, just make sure the bread is 'bakers' flour which, from memory has from 13% -15% gluten and you should be fine.


Good luck