The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bleached flour in starters

sadears's picture
sadears

Bleached flour in starters

I had a major brainfart when I last bought flour..bleached flour.  I bought two ten pounds bags.  I just realized it yesterday, when I fed my starter, then as I waited for it to rise just a bit more before I started using it, it fell.  Same thing today.  I wonder if it because I used bleached AP flour?  I went out today and hoped it would be ready when I got home.  It fell.  I did the same thing I always do.  Half cup starter (I don't weigh it...just go by the line on the mason jar), 4 oz flour, and 4 oz water...I weight the flour.  Starter behaved as expected until I started using the bleached flour.

 

I did see somewhat of a difference between bread flour and AP flour (bread flour behaved better), but unbleached AP flour performance was acceptable.  With bleached, it seems I have to park the jar in front of me and the minute it looks as it should, start using it.  That's unacceptable considering my high drift factor.

 

I googled it...bleached v. unbleached.  Clorine is used to bleach flour.  Could this be why many say that only tap water with little clorine treatment be used otherwise use bottled/distilled water?

 

Any thoughts?

 

Steph

Jeffrey's picture
Jeffrey

Well thats the idea i got when we use to let the aquarium sit over night before putting the fish in.   It's really hard to find unbleached flour around here, and this isn't a small town, so bleached must be good for something.  No, as far as my starters are cocerned, i haven't noticed much difference.  I don't have time to refresh it much more than once a day, and unless i overproof the loaf, or add way to much salt, it comes out.

 

Why is it bleached any way, does anyone know?  One would think that bleaching flour would raise the price, yet the opposite seems to be true.  How come all the grociers have ten brands of bleached flour, and maybe if your lucky, have one unbleached, for double the price?  Is healthy food only for the well to do?

 

ok end of rant, but perhaps someone here might know.

 

jeffrey

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Flour is bleached for two reasons. First, it makes it white. Really white. And second, it allows the flour to absorb more water, which makes cakes, muffins, etc. more moist. Cake flour is almost always bleached.

But bleaching also damages the flour so that it makes pretty lousy bread, and removes nutrients. I avoid it, myself, even for cakes.

Susan's picture
Susan

Okay, I'll join the rant with my experience:  At Costco the 25# bag of bread flour was not marked as to bleached or unbleached, so I pulled out my trusty cellphone and called ConAgra.  The woman who answered the phone was helpful.  After checking their records, we found out that it was, indeed, bleached flour.  So I didn't buy it.  Smart & Final sells only bleached bread flour in large bags.  Didn't buy that either.  I have to assume that restaurants want to buy bleached flour.  One more reason to eat at home. 
SD Susan

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

I can't swear to it, but I think that bleaching prolongs the shelf life - it removes some of the oils (i.e. nutrition) and makes the remaining gunk more stable. I believe flavour and nutrition suffer a bit. But if it keeps longer - it's good for the manufacturer - less spoilage, less dumped, greater profit. Hence - cheaper. I'm pleased, Sadears, that your little yeasties are discerning enough to reject it!
Andrew

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I haven't looked it up yet, but I bet it has more to do with killing microbes as a standard procedure for storage of the grain before it is ever ground into flour.  Unbleached therefore would require special storage handling and control (more labor hours) to prevent invasion of microbes (maybe microbes affect bread quality) without the help of chlorine and thus more expensive.  That's my guess.  Mini Oven

sadears's picture
sadears

From what I've read, bleaching does just that.  Makes it white.  Can't really find any other useful purpose.

 

So, that being the case, why would my starter go flat shortly after it rises?

 

Steph 

sphealey's picture
sphealey

I believe that originally bleaching of flour was just part of the general 1870-1920 movement to remove "contaminants" from natural foods, make them "better" and "more appealing", differentiate the products into low-brow and high-brow (premium prices!), and finally increase the time the product could be in storage/shipping/shelf before sale.

 

Some of those efforts had good results overall (pastuerizing milk; sorting of eggs), other served no purpose or did actual harm (partially hydrogenated fats) but have hung on ever since as part of our culture.

 

sPh

Jeffrey's picture
Jeffrey

Steph,

 

Just because it deflates, does not mean that the yeast is dead, maybe the gluten in your AP flour petered out.  Just go ahead and use it, most likley it has plenty of yeast in it.  Before i ran out of AP Bleached flour, this often happened to me, we thought it was the norm, so used it anyway.

 

It seems to me that the yeast is still going strong long after prime, bubbles or not.

 

hope this is the answer this time.

 

jeffrey

sadears's picture
sadears

Okay.  I'll feed it before I go to bed (I fed it earlier and it fizzled yet again) and I'll use it in the morning.  I'll keep you posted

 

Thanks,

 

Steph

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Did you know that bleached wheat flour could be better for you than plain white wheat flour? Read this and comment:
http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6497909-description.html