The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ash content and protein %'s

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TinGull's picture
TinGull

Ash content and protein %'s

Hi there,

 

I was looking through some things and noticed that King Arthur's Artisan flour states it's lower protein models European flours and is better for hearth breads. The Artisan is around 11.3% and the Type 65 is 12% protein. Why is a lower protein content better for hearth breads? I always thought around 14% (like Sir Lancelot) was better for the gluten developement and better structure, etc.

 

Also...ash content. Is it mostly for color?

 

Thanks all!!

 

Chris

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Chris,

Ash content refers to the non-organic or mineral content of flour. It helps to buffer the acids that develop in sourdough and long rising breads, so doughs will be more tolerant of the developing acid content in bread that gives it some of the important flavors. Usually artisan breads want flours with higher ash content. Flours with higher ash content tend to be "higher extraction" meaning they have more of the bran in them than pure white flour, so they will usually have a creamier somewhat off-white color. What you can get from a lower ash, higher gluten flour, is a tendency not to have the open crumb,  irregular hole structure, and organic acid flavor that is sought after in artisan breads. There is too much gluten and less ability to build up acid content in high gluten, lower ash content flour. You'll find AP flour, which might have a protein content of more like 11.5% often specified in recipes for artisan style breads.

I'm probably missing something important, but at least that's some of the answer to your question.

Bill

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

correct? I have a friend who is vegetarian.... she says ash is from cremated animal bones?

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Paddyscake,

I have my wife's old dead pet cat's ashes in a little box on a shelf for old time's sake. That has nothing to do with the ash content of flour, though. Ash describes the non-organic content in flour, i.e. the mineral content. It is actually from the flour, not from any animal or other source. It is called ash because the way you figure out how much ash content is in flour is by incinerating a sample of the flour (sort of like cremation, I guess), after which you weigh what's left after all the organic material has burned away, and then you divide it by the weight of the original amount of flour.

It is an indication of how much bran and germ is in the flour because that's where more of the mineral content of the grain comes from.

Bill

mij.mac's picture
mij.mac

Lol, yeah that sounds right. A guy over at yahoo reckons it's from cigarettes. lol. Most probably volcanic. <u> <o> Watch your teeth

mac

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Bone char (ash from cremated bones) aka a charcoal is used to whiten sugar.  I knew it was some ingredient I used in baking that she wouldn't eat.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Paddyscake,

I just read an article about the concern among strict vegans that cremated cow's bones are used in the whiteneing of refined sugars. Now I understand where your earlier post about ash came from. I hope you'll forgive me, but it gave me a chuckle, and it did remind me of my cat's ashes that have been hidden on a shelf for the last decade or so. I don't think there is anything like bone char in most any flour, so your vegan friend should be able to eat your bread if it doesn't have refined sugar. Also, there are lots of sugars without any bone char in them if you have a recipe that includes sugar.

Bill

tubaguy63's picture
tubaguy63

Ash is important to know because it tells you the portion of the wheat kernal the flour was cultivated from.

TinGull's picture
TinGull

Thanks all!!  So...for artisan hearth breads I'm looking for a higher ash content/lower protein?  Very good :)

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi TinGull,


I hesitate to give a hard and fast rule as good bakers can make good bread from a range of flours. However, in general terms, if I understand it rightly, many bakers do favour higher ash, lower protein for hearth breads. 


Kind regards, Daisy_A

scott lynch's picture
scott lynch

It's not so much what part of the kernel the flour comes from, but more how refined it is--as more and more of the bran and germ are stripped away the ash content goes down.  So a white flour with higher ash contains more bran/germ.  Significant for both fermentation characteristics and for flavor.
You can also simulate this by adding back germ and/or bran.  This can be done by mixing in a small proportion of whole wheat flour, or by mixing in bran and wheat germ in whatever amounts you choose.
I use the latter method sometimes, but I like to pulverize both in a coffee grinder so they are nice and fine.  The only caution I offer is that I find too much germ added back in gives the flour a grassy flavor, and of course bran can have negative effects on your gluten development (some think it tastes bitter, too, but I don't really get that). 

mredwood's picture
mredwood

So I have learned a lot reading these posts. How do we figure the ash content? Write or visit every website for the flours we use? can we make assumptions about it that might be true. Higher protein higher ash? Higher protein more whole wheat, now I am confusing myself I think I just figured it out but alas. Are there charts? When this equals that, no good but if this equals that that grab a bag, especially if it's a good price.  


 I used all my sourdough. I have just started on a grape nancy silverton starter. I have at least two weeks to muddle over ash now. 


Thanks all for any help. 


Mariah