The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First clear vs high extraction revisited

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Truffles's picture
Truffles

First clear vs high extraction revisited

Is "first clear" the stuff removed from the first screening,as in detritus? While high extraction is the good stuff from this first screening/ sifting? Or do I have no idea how the process works.

proth5's picture
proth5

If you are looking at the 2008 discussion on these pages, it is important to scroll down and look at the milling diagram posted by our own Norman Berg.  This explains it all.

Unfortunately (and this has been cited and repeated elswhere) first clear is originally identified as a "high extraction" flour.  That is not correct.

When we deal in "white" flours (flours without bran and germ) we have patent and clear flours.  The difference is the part of the endosperm from which they are milled.  Clear flours are from the outer part of the endosperm. This gives a higher protien content, lower protien quality and higher ash (mineral) content.  The flour will have a "gray" color and is often used to supplement rye flours where the color of the wheat flour is unimportant.

What you buy in a bag at the grocery store as "all purpose" or "bread" flour is patent flour.  Patent flour comes in many grades.

Extraction is the percentage of the wheat berry that ends up in the flour.  True whole wheat flour is 100% extraction.  When we remove some of the bran and germ (or for some all of the germ) we get a flour that is not quite 100% extraction, but has a greater extraction rate than patent flour.  This is "high extraction" flour. 

Hope this helps.

Truffles's picture
Truffles

Proth5 thankyou for your answer. I will check Norman Berg's chart if I can but your post answers my question. It was as I thought, I didn't understand the process for flour. It would seem that the main purpose of using first clear would be to save the baker money. Or am I again missing the point?

Many thanks, Herb

proth5's picture
proth5

traditionally First Clear was less expensive (because it was "less desireable") but with the mysterious forces of the mass market actual prices may vary.  New York Bakers is selling First Clear for $7.95 for 5 pounds (just for reference) so that definitely costs more than a bag of King Arthur all purpose or some of their other patent flours.  I liken the whole thing to people now paying premium prices to eat offal - which used to be thrown away. 

Also some people like the effects of the high ash flour - taste - food for yeast - authenticity for certain bread types - etc. (Of course, it was used for these types of bread because at one time it was food for poor people - see how mysterious forces are at work?)

But you are correct, it used to be a less expensive type of flour.

Hope this helps.