The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

King Arthur All-Purpose Flour Bafflement

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

King Arthur All-Purpose Flour Bafflement

I hope someone has an answer for this, because I'm baffled.

I've used KA all-purpose flour a lot, both with bread flour and alone. I haven't kept notes or done any experiments, but I've never noticed what I noticed in today's baking. I chose it instead of the Guisto bread flour I've been using because I was doing a number of things that I thought would benefit from a slightly softer flour. Fougasse, bread sticks, epi.

I retarded the dough overnight. Simple baguette high hydration dough leavened with yeast. I beat the peewaddin' out of it in my KA mixer, but a great deal of the dough stayed on the bottom of the bowl-more than when I made Jason's coccodrillo ciabatta. It seemed wetter than that dough even though I used 500 g flour and 350 g water. I added a couple of small handfuls of flour while the dough was mixing to try to get it to look right, but it never did. I probably beat it 12 minutes total at speed 2 and above trying to get it to look right.

I then folded the dough several times over the course of an hour and 15 minute rise and put it in the refrigerator. I refolded it right before bed because it had doubled. In the morning, the dough looked great and acted like a high hydration dough--in fact, it was very sticky and showed no signs that I had added extra flour. I had a hard time handling it, and when I tried to shape baguettes, it never made a tight skin. The surface of the bread stuck to the counter and had wavy lines on it in spite of flouring my hands often. Several of the loaves I rolled into a batard, relaxed, and started over on because they looked so bad.

They had great oven spring, but the crust was dull and didn't turn golden or gelatinized. It looked a lot like organic flour crust does, but it wasn't organic flour. I did spray the crusts right before baking with water and steamed as usual with a tray with lava rocks and a cup of water.

I have had great success with this recipe and technique in the past, and I'm baffled. Anybody have any ideas or experience with this flour that's similar? I keep going back and forth between "Did I over knead or under knead?"

Thanks,

Patricia

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Patricia.

Are you comparing KAF AP to Giusto's Baker's Choice or High/Ultimate Performer flour?

If you have been using Baker's Choice, it is actually lower protein than KAF AP. Ultimate or High Performer is slightly higher protein than KAF AP. In either case, I suspect your experience was not entirely due to your flour choice. 

You say you were mixing a "high hydration" dough for baguettes. How high? I find that higher hydration doughs need longer mixing. Using an autolyse makes a big difference, though. Did you autolyse? (Is that a legitimate verb?) Even if you didn't, the extra folds should have resulted in good gluten development. Did it seem good to you?

I have had problems with cold retardation of dough getting really slack and sticky, presumably due to proteolysis. It has still been manageable, but has much reduced elasticity. And this has been with Giusto's Baker's Choice, as it happens. I am thinking that the best strategy is to refrigerate right after mixing. The yeast will not be as active and neither will the proteases. The dough will rise less in the refrigerator, but you can let it double as it warms up before dividing and shaping, if needed.

I'm still working this out myself, so I can't say this works better for sure, but it's my impression it does.

In any case, how did the baguettes turn out?

David

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

Yes, David, I was comparing KAF AP to Giusto's Baker's Choice. Funny, I had always assumed the Giusto's had more protein because of the way it acted for me!

But I must say that I have used the KAF very successfully for baguettes before, so I had no reason to suspect beforehand that it might not have enough protein. As you point out, that probably wasn't the problem.

High hydration-350 g water to 500 g flour.  I autolysed for about an hour. (Surely that's a verb!) No, I never saw the flour develop good gluten. That's the source of my bafflement.

Yes, the cold retardation seemed to make it slack and sticky, but I haven't seen that before except on sourdough bread, and yes, reduced elasticity describes it. While rolling the baguettes, they'd just get to a certain point and the tight skin would break and I'd have sticky, mottled dough. It actually did act as if it had broken down a little too much.

The bread was okay, seemed not to rise as well as it should have given the hot day, and the oven spring was ok. All in all, the bread was ok. Period. Matte surface.

A friend who bakes for a restaurant told me today that she had experienced a similar problem when a monsoon was rolling in, as it was yesterday afternoon. Our normally dry weather was muggy. Any comments or experience on this?

Thanks, David, for your comments. Bread and gardening. They'll keep you humble.

Patricia

meryl's picture
meryl

Was this bake done during a time of excesses of heat and humidity?

Meryl

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

Thanks, Meryl, I think that may be it...see comment above.

Patricia

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

I will do as you suggest.

Patricia