The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why high gluten flour for starters?

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Why high gluten flour for starters?

Hi,
often people claim or even recommend to use high gluten flours for creating and feeding sourdough starters.
My question is: why? Does high gluten flour take any advantage to the microflora of a starter?

Thanks.

(PS my only flour is still rye;) ).

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Nico,


I think it is more to do with the glutenin fraction in the stronger flour.


I assume the theory will be that the stronger flours will be less susceptible to protease breaking down the fractions of the proteins too quickly.


So you get the benefits of the long fermentation, with the dough structure still relatively in tact.   Adding a more extensible [weaker] flour to this gives a ready mature dough with all the ideal properties for wheat-based baking.


Totally different to rye, as you well know


All good wishes


Andy

ZD's picture
ZD

Soft wheat works great for making starter. Lower gluten it is much easer to mix, refresh, or to dissolve in water when I make bread. I am grinding it fresh now but I have also bought it as flour. It works great.


Greg R

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

a starter alive, there is no need for gluten, in fact I don't even like it in my starter, makes it expand too much and large containers take up too much refrigerator space.  I have also thinned previous wheat starters putting them thru a sieve to removed the grey masses of gluten before adding flour for a sponge.  Didn't like grey lumps showing up in the crumb as the starter didn't break down enough.  Lower gluten flours blend smoother because the starters break down quicker.


Making a sponge is another thing altogether and is a larger part of the dough recipe and I think this is what Andy is addressing.


Mini 

breadbakingbassplayer's picture
breadbakingbass...

I just use AP...

ananda's picture
ananda

Thanks for your reply, Mini.


I fully appreciate there is no specific need for gluten in a starter, as does Nico.


However, I did think my answer addressed the actual question he was asking.   I agree that my aim was to address the function of the gluten in the sponge development, rather than maintaining micro organisms.   Sorry, Greg, if that was not quite clear in the first place.


Best wishes


Andy

ZD's picture
ZD

I was just commenting on how well soft flours work. In the USA high protean wheat and flour are easy to get so I just don't need it in my starter. Also doing the math on the average loaf I make it would make very little difference in the total gluten in the final dough.


The thing about bread making is the are so many ways to make good bread.


Greg R

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

I only know people use rye or whole wheat even AP flour.  Never heard anyone using high gluten flour to build a starter.  To build a starter I always use rye or whole wheat.  To feed a starter I use just whole wheat - WW bread is what I make.  I only use a few tablespoons of vital wheat gluten in the bread dough when I make bread, but never directly into my starter. 


Al




ananda's picture
ananda

Al,


if you are using vital wheat gluten, then there isn't any need to be using very strong flour in the first place.   But I don't want to use additives in bread.   Essentially, to get the gluten, that means extra processing, and extra potential waste in the food chain.   I'd just rather use a stronger grade of flour in the first place.


Also, regarding AP flour.   This actually does not exist in the UK in the form you know it in North America.   Our flour is very weak in comparison, and the general grade we are offered is "Plain".   Protein would be from around 9 to top end 10.5 [if we are VERY lucky].


I did give an answer that explained what the advantage of a stronger flour is within a sponge.   I also stated quite clearly that a strong flour has no advantage in building stronger colonies of microflora.


Best wishes


Andy

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

My previous reply was for OP and the gluten reference was not intended to your post.  I am sure you know what you're doing and so do I.   I am not trying to preach the essence of VWG.  Adding it in my bread is my personal preference.  If you're happy with what you're doing good for you.  So let's keep doing what we like and leave it the way it is.  cheers!


Al




BeckyColeman's picture
BeckyColeman

I am going to make a starter from just flour and water for the very first time this week and I will let you know how I get on. 


I shall be using organic flour and bottled spring water.  Wish me good luck!  If it doesn't work I will make one with yeast.


I am nuts about breadmaking since I found the no knead method and then this site.