The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

High Gluten puzzle.

rdphillip's picture
rdphillip

High Gluten puzzle.

My wife mail ordered some high gluten flour from King Arthur Flour for our anniversary a few weeks ago, and I used it to make bagels. This is the first time I've used high gluten flour and the flavour was truly wonderful. My puzzle is this: was it really the high gluten content or just the fresh flour that I tasted?  How exactly does high gluten flour contribute to the taste of the bagel? I'm not questioning the effect of the gluten on the texture of the bagel, (they were noticeably firmer) just its contribution to the taste.

Elagins's picture
Elagins

the question really is a lot more complex than that. generally, high gluten flours like KA's Sir Lancelot and General Mills All Trumps come from hard red spring wheat, which has a much higher protein content than softer wheats. The thing about bagels is that they also use malt, which is iteself a flavoring agent, and also, if you followed a traditional recipe, are retarded for at least 12 hours. also, whether or not you used a pre-ferment will have impact on the flavor.

assuming you (a) used a pre-ferment (as Reinhart does in BBA), (b) retarded the ferment by chilling the dough, and (c) used diastatic malt, which increases the amylase enzymes available, those three steps will contribute more to the bagels' flavor than the 1% or so difference in protein between high-gluten and a strong- to regular bread flour.

simple question, but not a simple answer, since there are so many factors that contribute to breads' (and bagels') flavor.

what's important is that you ended up with a bagel you were very happy with. beyond that, you may want to freeze a few of the Sir Lancelot batch (they freeze very well), and then bake a batch using your previous flour, then compare and contrast. as long as you keep the other variables pretty much identical, this is the best way to determine how much of a contribution the flour made.

Stan Ginsberg
www.nybakers.com

rdphillip's picture
rdphillip

Thanks for the reply Stan, you clearly know bagels. I basically used a "sourdough" bagel recipe from Reinhart's "Crust and Crumb" except that I don't maintain my starter in the same way. It does call for retarding the dough, and for malt syrup or honey. I use honey for the same reason I use bread flour...I can't find a store that sells it here in the East Tennessee area where I live.


I've used this recipie many times and the only difference this time was the flour, so I'm fairly sure that the improved flavour is coming from the flour. It may be the quality of the flour, however, and not the gluten content. I am very happy with the result, but the reason for my post is to try and find out if a higher quality bread flour would produce similar resuts. If I have to mail order the flour to get these results it will have to be a very occasional pleasure (I do notice that you sell flour as well...I mean no offense, its just that I can't justify the expense on our current budget :-))

Elagins's picture
Elagins

it's entirely possible that the flour is intrinsically better. if you've been buying supermarket bread flour, it matters whether you're buying a generic store-brand "bread flour" or one of the national brands like Better for Bread or Harvest King, or even KA Bread Flour (if it's available in your area).

Over the years I've used both premium and store-brand flours, and believe me, there's a huge difference between them, to the point where the flavor benefits of extra cost per pound far outweigh cost savings at the expense of flavor.

I don't know how often you bake, or what your budget constraints are: these are hard times for a lot of folks -- but I do know that there's also a powerful economic benefit to home baking that only enhances the obvious pleasures of making and eating my own bread.

Taking that extra financial step is a decision that a lot of people have to think twice about, but it's one that, in my view, is well worth the little bit of extra pain involved. And now that you've come closer to what bagels can be, you have to know that it will be hard going back.

Stan

Yumarama's picture
Yumarama

Look for a Brew Your Own Beer shop, they'll sell Malt Syrup and much cheaper than you'd find it anywhere else.

rdphillip's picture
rdphillip

Well, Stan your words are true enough. And thanks for the suggestion rainbowz, I'm excited to see what I can find.


David.