The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Flour Protein Percentage

paulm's picture

Flour Protein Percentage

With the discussion of bulk flour sources, I picked up some AP flour and Bread flour in 25 pound bags at a local Sam's Club.  The brand is Bakers and Chefs and it is milled by ConAgra.  I contacted ConAgra to find out the percentage of protein of each.  The AP flour has a protein percentage of 11% and the Bread flour is 12%.  The prices were $6.83 for 25 pounds of AP flour and $6.87 for 25 pounds of Bread flour.  I've been baking with them for about 6 weeks now and have been pleased with the results particularly at those prices.  Unfortunately for some, they are only available in bleached form. 

lsume's picture

Sam's Club bread flour has 12% protein and King Arthur Bread flour has 12.7% protein.  I've been working with yeast dough now for about 42 years and I'm still learning a great deal.  It seems that I've been learning more in the last year or so than I learned for a long time.  They have King Arthur Unbleached Bread flour at our local Walmart for $3.68 for 5 pounds.  When our children were growing up, I would bake a couple of loaves of French bread on a regular basis.  What I remember from my outcomes those many years ago was that the French bread would tend to fall.  Some years ago, I invested in a two loaf French bread perforated tin used to hold form for the bread and I also purchased a three loaf baguette tin.  Since I'm a retired mechanical engineer, I have a strong background in complex processing which is far from what occurs when making bread.  I've been making a lot of rye bread lately and was disappointed in the drop in the finished loaves as well as getting crumbly loaves as well.  I began doing research on the subject which I really enjoy and found the perfect solution.  I buy and have been buying Sam's Club's 25 pound bags of bread flour for some years now.  When I get it home, I put it all in 7 ziplock bags and label the bags with a green marksalot as BF (bread flour).  I made one bad purchase for rye flour because it was very inexpensive.  I ended up throwing all of it away and then purchased King Arthur medium rye flour.  I very recently purchased Bob's Red Mill light rye flour and I've found that I get identicle results.  I spoke with one of King Arthur's proffesional bakers who I found to be rude and snobby.  However, I'm sure that I've come across that way myself in earlier years and King Arthur has published a lot of great information for home bakers and probably professional bakers as well.  I decided not to blame King Arthur but instead focused on their many contributions to the many bread bakers who are willing to do a little research.  One thing I just read was a nutritional breakdown of their unbleached bread flour.  They based their numbers on 1/4 cup at 30 grams and said that there was 4 grams of protein which works out to 13.333% protein.  However, they advertise 12.7% protein.  Oh well, back to what I've been blessed to discover is the use of Vital Wheat Gluten at 71% protein for Medley Hills Farm Vital Wheat Gluten purchased on Amazon in the 2.5 pound bag.  I keep it along with the light rye flour refrigerated but was advised to either freeze it or leave it out which I disagree with.  I've made many many loaves of Amish white bread and had been getting an over rise (greater than 2.5 times volume of dough) and then having it fall a bit while cooling.  I now add just over 1 tablespoon of Vital Wheat Gluten to the Sam's Club bread flour and knead it for at least 4 minutes but probably closer to 5 minutes using our KitchenAid stand mixer.  I use 1 tablespoon of instant yeast also purchased at Sam's in the two individual 1 pound packs vacuum packed.  I keep the yeast in a 1 gallon ziplock bag in the freezer.  I use more than 1 cup of filtered water but not much more.  I'm confident that many of you that are reading this have read not to proof instant yeast as well as only using 3/4 tablespoon of instant yeast for Amish white bread.  My loaves come out book cover photo ready and don't drop at all now that is noticeable.  Using vital wheat gluten has made a tremendous difference in the finished loaf.  This is most obvious in my rye breads.  I've used the sour cream and dill pickle juice recipes that I think I found at King Arthur.  Honestly, my rye bread tastes better than any rye I've ever purchased.  For every cup of light or King Arthur medium rye I use 1 tablespoon of the Vital Wheat Gluten.  I also add about 1/4 tablespoon more Gluten for the Sam's bread flour that is milled by Con Agra as I recall which is a huge ag company.  I did a number of years doing R&D in direct fired steam generators and applying that energy into feeds made from soy beans (long story).  I purchased a new Hobart N-50 commercial stand mixer a number of years ago but I still use our old KitchenAid most always.  The one we use is very old and I think it's the third one we've owned.  In the directions, you will see a description of how your dough is supposed to look when it's being properly kneaded.  Your supposed to get 1 lump and maybe 2 smaller lumps that rotate around the bowl.  I don't use that as a guideline and haven't for many years.  Using gluten means that you will need a little more water.  For your Amish white bread, I use three large plastic glasses also purchased from Sam's that are, if memory serves, 32 ounce glasses.  I fill one of the glasses to about 1/2 full and then using the 1/2 cup measuring cup I pour some of the filtered water into the 1/2 cup until it begins to overflow from the cup into one of the empty glasses.  I repeat this procedure for the 3rd empty glass and after I'm done with that I add a very small amount more filtered water into one of the glasses.  It's that plastic glass that I add the 1/3 cup of sugar to.  I place that glass with the cold filtered water and sugar in our microwave for 44 seconds and when the timer goes off I use a fork and stir vigorously till all of the sugar has gone into solution.  I pour about a cup of the bread flour into the mixing bowl and the sugar water and mix with the mixing paddle.  The paddle should not be covered with a sticky mess but instead a more dry yet moist mixture.  Now for the other glass with the cold filtered water that has just over 1/2 cup.  The reason that there is just over 1/2 cup from the 1/2 cup measuring cup is because of the surface tension of the water.  If you've taken college chemistry and the lab that goes with it, you understand.  If not, dont worry about it.  Anyway, I put about 1/3 teaspoon of sugar and about 1/2,tablespoon of flour into the glass and stir well before placing it in the microwave for 23 or 24,seconds.  This is where you could use an infrared thermometer. Once your finished with the microwave, stir well and then add 1 tablespoon of instant yeast from your freezer to the mixture and stir very well.  The ideal temperature for instant yeast is 95 F.  If your mix is about 105 F when you place the tablespoon of cold instant yeast into the mix and stir well, you should end up with a mixture that is very near to that 95 F.  I've found the specific heat for instant yeast so that you can do very precise calculations involving the final resting temperature of that mix but don't worry about that either.  Now  pour some more bread flour into the bowl with a splash of oil and about 3/4 tablespoon of salt and start using the kneading hook.  At this time you don't want the final amount to be at all dry while kneading.  Continue to knead until it's obvious as to weather you need more bread flour or not.  It should be wet enough that you know it's going to need more bread flour.  Using your tablespoon continue to add bread flour and knead for about a minute before adding more.  Once your getting a wet dough sticking at the bottom of your bowl about 3-4" in diameter continue to knead until that wet dough disappears.  It might take 4 minutes.  No matter, just keep kneading.  Once the wet flour spot is gone into the dough then it's time to add a very little bit of water.  Use hot water from the tap and dribble in a very small amount and continue to knead.  Once you have a moist finished dough, pour a little more oil into the bowl and roll the dough in it and then hand knead.  Get your faucet water hot and soak a tea towel or regular kitchen towel in the hot water then wring it out.  Place your ball of dough back in the bowl and make  a small depression in the lump and then squeeze a bit of water from the towel on top of the depression in the dough.  Cover the bowl with the wet towel and place it in your oven with the oven warmed to about 105 F.  Set your timer for 60 minutes and let the dough rise.  i use only ceramic loaf pans with one that is oversized for this particular loaf.  I use white Crisco grease to grease the loaf pan and then use a paper towel to remove excess grease.  When the timer goes off, I put on surgical gloves that are slightly oiled to beat the dough down and shape it around the inside of the loaf pan.  It  should be very smooth and void of any remaining CO2 gas bubbles.  Place the loaf pan back in the oven and again heat the oven to about 105 F.  My twin ovens take over 20 minutes to heat up to 350 F so i set my timer to 40 minutes and when the timer goes off I place the loaf pan in the lower oven and begin to preheat the oven to bake at 350 F.  The instructions say to bake for 30 minutes. don't do that. Set your timer to 26 minutes and when the timer goes off take your time and remove the loaf pan and place it in the lower oven or microwave if you don't have a lower oven and allow to cool for about 2 hours.  I have a BreadPal slicing guide and sometime ago I ordered 1,000 bread bags that would fit my oversized loaves and also purchased about 2 or 3 thousand bread bag ties that are about 5 or 6 inches long.  If you read enough, you will be told not to refrigerate your bread or store it in a plastic bag.  It's just my wife and I now and since I don't use preservatives mold is sure to form.  I've been told to store the bread in a paper sack and freeze what won't be eaten over the course of several days give or take.  I use my plastic bags but have stopped slicing up the entire loaf.  I also use the fridge and not the freezer.  The bread stays moist and fresh enough for us and no mold.