The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

King Arthur European Flour

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Maryann279's picture
Maryann279

King Arthur European Flour

I recently ordered and received the King Arthur European flour as it was advertised as making a superior loaf of bread.  When it came, I realized that it had ascorbic acid in it.  Reviews by bakers at the KA described it as producing a very silky, easy to handle dough.  I was out of white flour when making whole wheat sourdough this morning (formula called for white as well as whole wheat, and I had made the levain last night), so I thought I would try it.  The dough handled almost as if it had a "plasticizer" in it - very different from the dough I normally make.  The dough came out on the wet side, but perhaps I added too much water to begin with.  It is currently being proofed and I will post back with the results.

What have been other people's experiences using this flour?

jcking's picture
jcking

KA has 3 Euro-style flours; Artisan, French and Italian.

Jim

Maryann279's picture
Maryann279

This flour is the artisan flour, a blend of winter and spring wheat enhanced with ascorbic acid and white whole wheat.

jcking's picture
jcking

For me I've subbed it for KA Bread and didn't notice a difference in assembly. Some difference in taste. The water may be high or it needed a longer mix. Do you measure or weigh?

Jim

Maryann279's picture
Maryann279

Jim,

I weigh my ingredients.  I'll have to try the dough again with regular KA; maybe get really analytical and make two batches exactly the same, only varying the white flour type.

The results came out of the oven just now.  I like the crumb - it's spongy with random sized holes and that nice somewhat shiny look you get with dough that has been retarded in the refrigerator. 

I am still struggling with the crusts.  The first loaf got baked in a new clay baker, but stuck to the bottom despite oiling it ahead of time.  Maybe the baker needs several rounds of oiling and oven seasoning before I use it with bread.  The top crust was not exceptional.  The next three loaves got baked on a clay stone, and the bottom crust is much nicer.  Not much difference in top crusts between the first and second bake, even though I left the loaves in the oven an extra ten minutes with the heat turned off.  The baker, of course, was supposed to produce a nice crust on its own.  I was too tired to set up any kind of steaming device for the second bake.

At least the bread tastes good!

jcking's picture
jcking

I use parchment in my clay bakers. Final proof on parchment and trim to fit before loading into baker. Also with the clay baker remove the lid/top for the last 5-10 mins of the bake depending on bake temp. What temp are you using for the bake? Does your clay baker have a flat bottom?

Jim

Maryann279's picture
Maryann279

I'm using the long skinny one that KA sells and it does have a flat bottom.  Parchment sounds like a good idea;  I can use the sides of the parchment as a cradle to lift the bread into the baker.  When I baked the loaf, I did remove the lid for the last 10 minutes.  Do you preheat the baker in the oven?  I baked the loaf at 450 F, but am thinking that I should get a thermometer to make sure I've got the right oven temp.

Maryann

jcking's picture
jcking

Yes use the parch as a sling/cradle. I pre-heat my clays, I have a few along with the long skinny one you have. With the pre-heat I bake at an initial temp of 475°F for 10 mins then lower to 425°F for the remaining 20 to 30 mins depending on dough, removing lid, and sometimes removing loaf entirely, for the last 5 to 10 mins. You'll need to adjust slightly for your conditions/environment/oven. Thermometers are a good thing. Using them several times during your dough assembly will give you a better idea of when to check on the progress of your doughs. As an example you can adjust your water temp to arrive at a dough temp of 75°F which most rising times are based on. Just remember time is only a guide.

Jim

Maryann279's picture
Maryann279

Pre-heating the clay seems like it would be a key component.  I do calculate DDT, but my rising environment is difficult to control as I don't have a proofer.  I've been trying to learn to judge when each stage is ready based on looks, but it's a bit of a trial and error process.  Thanks for the advice, Jim - I will follow it the next time I bake.

Maryann

Chuck's picture
Chuck

The amount of ascorbic acid added to flour is typically minute: measured in parts-per-million (or 0.0000n% if you prefer). Because the amount needed is so small, home bakers typically add the smallest quantity they can measure (often either 1/8 tsp. or 1/2 of a pill), and even so wind up adding way more than necessary; fortunately a little "extra" doesn't seem to hurt anything.

Ascorbic acid is just the chemical name for Vitamin C; in theory you could obtain some just by grinding up a Vitamin C tablet in your mortar&pestle or blender (except the "binders" present in typical Vitamin C tablets sometimes screw things up). Virtually all north american flours already include ascorbic acid (but you can of course add a bit more, although that may not make much difference). Many european flours on the other hand do not automatically include it  ...but it's often a recommended additional ingredient in european recipes. For example many Parisian bakers recommend the inclusion of a tiny amount of ascorbic acid along with the flour.

Ascorbic acid is one of the main ingredients in most "dough enhancers". By helping the bread to hold its shape, it should make the bread rise higher and better, thus enhancing the volume, crumb structure, and softness of the bread. (Some sources also say it encourages the growth of yeast, but I'm a bit dubious about that being one of its primary effects.) steveb the chemist has described it this way: "Ascorbic acid is an oxidiser which builds strength into the dough by helping to create cross bonds, known as the di-sulphide bridge."

A very silky dough that handles almost as if it had a "plasticizer" in it does indeed sound like ascorbic acid. On the other hand, since ascorbic acid is probably already included in all of your other flours, it doesn't quite add up that it would make such a significant difference; it may be either the other ingredients in the flour or the different hydration level that matters more.

chykcha's picture
chykcha

I have used King Arthur flour and loved it. Recently though, I was offered Rogers flour,which I guess is Canadian, but I am just making dough for later tonight with it. Does anyone know what to expect from white Rogers bread flour? Thanks!