The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Flour

  • Pin It
782eric's picture
782eric

Flour

Hello everyone!

I really like the idea of using an all natural flour for baking bread. I recently picked up a hard-white bread flour from a mill in Arva, Ontario and was quite excited about using it. However, all my efforts with the flour result in a short and very dense loaf (both in the bread machine and sans bread machine). I typically use Robin Hood Best for Bread flour and my loaves always turn out nicely. I'm not ready to give up on my locally milled Arva flour yet as I think it is fresher and probably doesn't have any additives. Has anyone else had the same difficulties? Any ideas for using a natural flour and getting it to rise better?

Thanks!

-Eric

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

although it is quite hard to do more than guess in general terms without more specifics about your formula and process.   Also, I assume you already know all these things, but you may not have thought of all of them in trying to troubleshoot your dense loaf,  so I wonder:

-  do you know the protein content in % (the real number, not just the "bread" flour handle) of the new flour?  Perhaps it is not as high as you expect.  There is also the possibility that it is not as consistently the same as the Robin Hood you used previously.
-  do you test your dough development with a windowpane test?  If the protein level is significantly different from what you normally use, and you are using mixing times instead of a development test, you may be grossly under or over developjng your dough.

Just some reminders of some basics you may not have checked.  Hopefully it will help.
Good luck
OldWoodenSpoon

782eric's picture
782eric

Thanks for the great tips. I'm not really familiar with those points, as I'm fairly new to this.

It says on the sac that per 1 cup (125g) there is 12.9g of Protein. Am I correct in figuring that there's about 9.7% protein? If I do the same math on the Robin Hood Flour, I get 13%. Does the difference in percentages mean I just need to let things rise and proof a bit longer or does the flour need the malt powder? 

What is the windowpane test?

Thanks again!

flournwater's picture
flournwater
LindyD's picture
LindyD

Sounds as if the flour is unenriched.  You might ask the millers if they've added any malted barley flour to adjust the alpha-amylase level.  

If it is unenriched, you could add your own diastatic malt powder (in minute amounts) to the flour, provided you could find it locally.  It's also available online at King Arthur Flour or through Amazon.  It's a totally natural product  which will help fermentation and flavor.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Yep, most commercial flours in north america already have approximately the "right" tiny amount of diastatic malted barley flour added at the mill. (Check the ingredients list on the flour sack; you'll probably see "malted barley flour".) Without any at all, the flour is likely to (mis)behave in ways you're not at all accustomed to; your normal process can easily result in loaves that don't rise hardly at all. The easiest solution I know is to add a tiny (less than 1% of flour weight? less than a teaspoon per loaf?) amount of diastatic malt to the flour when you're mixing your dough.

(I also second the previous poster's suggestion that the gluten content may be either waayyy higher or waayyy lower than you're used to.)

782eric's picture
782eric

It does say it is Vitamin Enriched -3.7/100g Thiamin (B1), 2.5g/100 Riboflavin, 29.6g/100 Niacin and .99/100g Folic Acid...I'm not seeing malted barley flour...Sounds like a good idea...I didn't know you could order that type of stuff through Amazon. Thanks for the tip. 

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Yep, "enriched" is sometimes a rather vague term (the cynical view is marketeers use it however they darn please:-). Some countries have laws requiring certain vitamins and/or nutrients to be added to flour, and whether enriched means just those or means those and malt too is a bit chancy. I'm with you, even though it's enriched with those vitamins, if there's no explicit mention of malted barley flour too, it's quite likely there's no diastatic malt coming from the mill.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi All

Good point Chuck; maybe theses words work better:

Diastatic malt would be classed as an additive in the UK, since it is added in the form of fungal amylase as an enzyme.   Maybe that is not the case in the US?   If so, how fortunate you all are, as our devious producers love to use enzymes as the legal loophole means they don't have to declare them.   Con-merchants, I say!

The vitamins and minerals listed would be classed as "fortification".   Correct; these are required to be added by law, seen as though there was such a clamour for a "white" flour in the post-war world desperate to reject the lovely brown stuff.

Enrichment to me means improving but very naughty ingredients such as fat or sugar or egg.

Best wishes

Andy

flournwater's picture
flournwater

My "Eagle Mills" unbleached AP flour (Walmart) contains unbleached wheat flour and whole wheat flour.  Nothing else.  It's 13+% protein and it makes great bread.  If you've got a Walmart near at hand, your problems are solved.

If "natural" is important to you, this may be of interest:

http://www.gourmet.com/foodpolitics/2008/08/politics-of-the-plate-natural-labeling

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi flournwater,

I'm pretty sure the white flour component will contain all of these:

3.7/100g Thiamin (B1), 2.5g/100 Riboflavin, 29.6g/100 Niacin and .99/100g Folic Acid

Fortification is a legal requirement [in US, UK [not folic acid just yet] and Canada and other countries too], no exceptions; labelling as such obviously is not quite so high on your FDA priority list, as noted in the article cited.

Best wishes

Andy

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Excellent point, Ananda.  But I think we need to keep in mind that water soluble vitamins like thiamine, niacin and riboflavin are natural components of whole wheat.  I must yield on the folic acid  ....  with the exception that, since about 1998, it's required by law as an additive to products made with white flour, pasta, rice.  That's unfortunate because consuming more green veggies would otherwise be enough to maintain a healthy level of folate in our diet.



ananda's picture
ananda

Hi,

The  white flour component of the "blend" you have bought will have by law to have been fortified with the minerals you mention.   The whole point is that this is to provide the lost vitamin and minerals which would have been found in the wholewheat.   So, yes, the "natural" vitamins are present in the wholewheat portion of the flour, but the other [white] portion of your flour has had vitamins and minerals added back to mimic the wholewheat counterpart.

Like it or not, your flour has been tampered with, and there is nothing you can do about it...it is a legal requirement of the miller!

I'd sooner just use more wholewheat flour than see added vitamins and minerals added as open admission of poor diet.   We agree on folic acid; it is freely available in other foods to give a healthy diet.   I also question the necessity of adding it to white flour products.

Best wishes

Andy

782eric's picture
782eric

Interesting article. I've read some other articles and seen some interesting videos on similar topics. In a world full of so many additives, false labeling and meat glue, it's a good thing we're all baking our own bread! : )

gerhard's picture
gerhard

I use the Arva Flour Mill hard flour for bread baking and have been happy with the results.  This morning I baked a sunflower seed sourdough baguette using the flour.  

In Canada there are various vitamins that are required by law to be added, Niacin (vitamin B) is one that comes to mind so unless you willing to mill the flour yourself you won't get away from additives.

This is the baguette I baked this morning

 

Gerhard

 

782eric's picture
782eric

Looks good! That's making me hungry! Have you used Arva flour in a bread machine before? I have gotten bread to rise before when making it with my hands, but busy weekdays necessitate the use of the bread machine and that's where I tend to get my biggest failures.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

Thanks for the compliment.  No we don't own a bread machine, we only bake on Sunday morning.  Actually Friday night I make the starter using the sourdough culture that I care for, Saturday afternoon mix the dough, later Suturday form the loaves and then in the fridge for 12 hours.  So we only bake 2 times a month depending our schedule. 

Gerhard

782eric's picture
782eric

Thanks again for all your suggestions! This conversation has been quite the education about flour!