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Testing a different flour using Susan's "Ultimate Sourdough"

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Testing a different flour using Susan's "Ultimate Sourdough"

A couple days ago, I baked some baguettes with a new (to me) flour – Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour. The dough was much more elastic than I expected, and the baguettes had a thicker, crunchier crust and chewier crumb than expected from a flour that is supposedly 11.7% protein, the same as KAF AP flour. (The Nutritional Information on the BRM bag specifies 4 gms of protein in each 34 gm serving.)


The BRM flour acted more like a higher gluten flour than it's protein content would suggest. Now, the packaging does say it's made from hard red spring wheat. As Dan has been telling us, that's what bakers look for when they want the strongest flour. We've also heard that “protein content” is not the same as “gluten content,” and also there are differences in the “quality” of gluten in different wheats. Is that what I encountered?


I decided my next step had to be to make another bread with this flour, to be sure my baguette experience wasn't the result of something other than the flour. I wanted a recipe that I had made before and knew how the dough should be, and I wanted one that was meant to be chewy, unlike baguettes.


Today, I baked a couple loaves of Susan from San Diego's “Ultimate Sourdough.” Susan likes chewy bread, and her recipe calls for “High Gluten” flour. I used the BRM Organic Unbleached Flour, rather than the KAF Bread Flour or Sir Lancelot I had used for this bread before.


Again, the flour acted like a high-gluten flour. It absorbed more water than KAF Bread Flour. It made a very elastic dough that was dryer than usual – just barely tacky. I fermented the dough until doubled (7 hours) and formed two boules which were cold retarded overnight after proofing 45 minutes at room temperature.


This morning, I allowed the boules to warm up and proof for 3.5 hours to about 1.5X their original size before baking. I baked them on a pre-heated stone with steaming by pouring boiling water over lava rocks in a cast iron skillet. (Forgive me, Susan! No magic bowl.)




 


The result was indistinguishable in chewiness and flavor from the other loaves I've baked with this recipe. (And that is very good!) The crumb was okay but noticeably less open than usual.


My conclusion is that this flour, which has a protein content of 11.7% (by my calculation), acts like other flours I've used with 14+% protein. 


If anyone else has more information about this flour or personal experience using it, I'd love to hear about it.


I also wonder if anyone knows if "hard red spring wheat" usually has higher protein content than winter wheat, or is it's gluten content a greater percentage of the total protein, or is it of higher quality.


David

Comments

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I really *love* that flour and I still buy it when I can find it, but lately I've been having difficulties. Wal-Mart had it for $1.50 a bag as a closeout months ago and I bought 3 bags, but quickly went through them. I went back to get more and they were gone. Last I saw of this flour.


Makes really nice bread and works quite well for cookies.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'm glad you like the flour. I don't dislike it. It's just different than what I expected from the protein content. 


Have you compared it to any other brands of AP flour?


David

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I also noticed this the other day!  Welcome to- Bob's Red Mill-Unbleached Organic White Flour-Flour Test    http://www.sourdoughhome.com/bobsredmillflour.html 


Sylvia

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Sylvia.


Thanks for the link.


The forgotten hydration pictures might have addressed my questions. No new information, unfortunately.


David

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

David, I'am certainly no authority and just a suggestion!..but  because the flour is 'organic' changes it someway! It  will have it's affects on your baking experiments, maybe.  I read something the other day..sorry can't remember where!  Maybe I'm wrong but just thought it might help to check on 'organic' flour's difference from regular AP.


Sylvia

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Sylvia.


If you remember what you read and the source, please pass the info. on.


David

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Hi David,


One other thing to consider is that the "4 grams" figure is rounded to the nearest gram.  So it's actually anywhere from 3.5 (10.2%) to 4.4 (12.9%) grams of protein per 34 grams of flour.  I had this confirmed by calling Giusto's one day.


:-Paul

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Beautiful loaves, David! Both of them look gorgeous :)


Are there any additives or conditioners in the BRM flour that makes it behave more like a high gluten flour? Isn't high gluten flour (hard red spring wheat) in the area 13 - 15% protein content, while "artisan-style" flour (hard red winter) is of a more moderate protein content (9 - 13%)? I think the winter wheats give flours of greater variation in protein content than that of spring wheat. As Paul said above, your BRM flour could be close to the 13% mark, due to round-off's in the labelling? Another thing to think about, could be the extraction rate of the flour... The outer parts of the endosperm are higher in protein than the inner parts. Say BRM and KAF are using the exact same grains, they could end up with different protein contents depending on how the flour is milled. Do the various parts of the endosperm have different gluten properties?

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

You've already demonstrated to your (and my!) satisfaction that BRM organic white is stronger than the KAF flour.


Hard red spring wheat does, in general, yeild a higher protein value than hard red winter wheat.


I went to www.bobsredmill.com to find more information and the only relevant fact I could find was that their organic white is not enriched, by which I assume it does not have added vitamins and minerals and probably does not have malted barley flour (?). (That info would be on the bag but the image was too small for me to read.)


I bet you could get the professional flour specifications either via the contact page on their site or by calling them. Here's additional contact info for BRM (from their site)...


Customer Service: (800) 349-2173
Phone: (503) 654-3215
Toll Free: (800) 553-2258
Fax: (503) 653-1339


I'd be curious whether the numbers (compared to the KAF you've used - especially their Sir Lancelot high gluten flour, which is also made from spring wheat) would bear out what you've already observed in your baking trials.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hansjoakim,


Thanks for the compliment!


The listed protein content - even with averaging - is still not 14+%. There are no conditioners added.


subfuscpersona,


I think a call to BRM is in order. I'll report back on what they say.


David

xaipete's picture
xaipete


I also wonder if anyone knows if "hard red spring wheat" usually has higher protein content than winter wheat, or is it's gluten content a greater percentage of the total protein, or is it of higher quality.



Dan DiMuzio has made a number of posts recently indicating that flour milled from hard red spring wheat has a higher protein content than flour milled from hard winter wheat.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/11856/getting-more-flour-out-kaf#comment-66718


--Pamela



dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Nothing that isn't already on the packaging. The woman with whom I spoke said there was no one available with more technical information.


Oh, well. I tried.


My next step will be to re-read the technical chapters in Hamelman and Suas and see if either speaks to my questions.


David

DonD's picture
DonD

Hi David,


Those boules certainly look great. I have never tried to make big breads before but I guess sooner or later I will have to take the plunge.


Your analysis of the BRM White Flour, backed by your own experiment is very interesting. I used it once a couple of months ago and did not like the results either but I never tried to analytically find out the reasons. Thanks for posting your findings.


I cannot wait to hear more feedback from other users.


don

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Actually, those boules were a tad under 500 gms each, before baking. Not "big" by my standards.


Let me make my feelings clear: I did not dislike the BRM flour. The bread is delicious. It just was stronger flour than I anticipated from the protein percentage. As I use the rest of the bag, I'll just try to remember to add a bit more water and mix the dough a little longer to fully develop the gluten.


I think we need to go through this process whenever we use a new flour. In this instance, I was self-consciously running a test, so I didn't want to vary anything besides the flour so I could compare apples to apples.


David

DonD's picture
DonD

Hi David,


I did not like the results that I got for substituting BRM White Flour for the KAF AP Flour that I am used to but with more input from fellow TFl members and knowledgeable people like Dan, I will know how to use it more appropriately.


Don

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Hard red spring wheat does usually have at least a percentage point or more protein than hard red winter.  And the gluten-forming proteins in spring wheat (around 80% of the total protein) are usually very bucky once they unite.  So 11.7% protein in a spring wheat will likely act differently than 11.7% in winter wheat.


I don't mean to criticize Bob's Red Mill -- I really haven't used many of their products -- but it is unlikely that they have the same tight specifications for protein content, ash, or baking performance as King Arthur.  That in no way is meant to imply that their flour isn't as good as KA's -- just that the flour may not be as likely to act the same way from bag to bag.  I'm just speculating for now, but I think in your case it may be that they sourced an organic spring wheat that exceeded their protein rating and, thinking that this is "better" for the customer, they went ahead and used it for the lower-spec'd protein rating.


Organic specifications refer mostly to methods used for fertilization and pest control, as I understand it.  In any case, in terms of baking performance, such a designation has no significance.  The organic flour might be weaker or stronger than its conventional cousin -- the fact that it is organic doesn't affect performance.


I'm intrigued by this -- I might try to research whether millers are required to hit exact protein specs, or if they merely have to hit the minimum specified.


--Dan DiMuzio

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


Hard red spring wheat does usually have at least a percentage point or more protein than hard red winter.  And the gluten-forming proteins in spring wheat (around 80% of the total protein) are usually very bucky once they unite.  So 11.7% protein in a spring wheat will likely act differently than 11.7% in winter wheat.



That is precisely the information for which I was fishing! 


When I called BRM Customer Support this morning, the woman to whom I spoke quoted 12% protein in this product, but she couldn't compare it to any other miller's product or to flour made from winter wheat with the same protein content, for that matter.


I will file your concern regarding the flour's consistency from bag to bag as a caveat. Some millers - Giusto's for example - give ranges of protein content for each flour on their web site. I'll be interested to hear what you discover regarding the regulatory requirements in this regard.


For the present, having baked with the BRM Organic Unbleached White Flour twice with similar performance in two different breads, I think I know how to make it behave civilly (i.e., like KAF Sir Lancelot or Giusto's Ultimate Performer) in the future.


Thanks so much for sharing your expertise, Dan!


David