The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Vital Wheat Gluten - Why Do I Feel Like I'm Cheating??

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Vital Wheat Gluten - Why Do I Feel Like I'm Cheating??

I will be using vital wheat gluten for the first time in this weekend's bake.  Doing Jeffrey Hamelman's 5 Grain Levain, which calls for a bit of this stuff.  Why do I feel like i'm cheating a bit using it?  Is this ingredient looked down upon at all in the bread baking world or a necessary item? 

John

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Particularly for whole grain and multi-grain breads, VWG is nearly a necessity.  Jeff and Zöe swear by it, as did Dave Dahl of Dave's Killer Bread. I think more than anything else VWG explains the difference between most commercial whole grain bread being light and fluffy and what most folks end up with at home.

-F  

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

I believe you are right Floyd.  I do notice that a lot of the store bought breads, especally the artisanal ones do have VWG in the ingredients list.  So I guess this weekend's bake will be worthy of a 600% mark up, like Safeway ;) 

Any buyers?

John

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi John,

When I first started baking with whole grains, way back in the days when there were about only 2 books on the topic, I did add gluten because I thought it was necessary......The info. back then suggested that whole wheat flour was 'weak' and needed more gluten...

Fast forward to 2 years ago and my re-introduction to baking bread after an extended hiatus....I discovered Peter Reinhart's book WGB and the gluten has been discarded along with a lot of my old beliefs about ww flour.  Many in the baking world do use it as a 'dough conditioner' but around here I do not see that being done....

Does the formula you are wanting to bake say why it is being added to the dough?  I am thinking maybe because of the 5 grains and I know Bread uses mostly 'store bought' flours which do behave differently.  

I bake with 100% freshly ground whole grains and do not have a problem with strength but that could be due to my using sour dough and long wet times with all of my doughs which increase dough strength.  I also do not expect light airy loaves with my flours.

Probably haven't answered your question but I won't avoid your posts if you sneak some into your loaf :-}.  I am just curious why it is called for in the first place.

Cheating???  I dare not judge because I bake my breads using an electric oven rather that a WFO and I use and electric mixer to knead my breads rather than doing it all by hand....is that cheating?.... some might say 'yes'.......mostly I do what works for me to give me the results that we like :-)  I am in this for the sheer fun of it so my advice is do what works for you and have fun :-}  but you probably already know that!

Take Care,
Janet 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Janet.  Thanks for the info.  Very informative.  The only reason I can think of that VWG was added to this COPY of JH 5 Grain Levain recipe is due to the high % of whole grain flour and seeds in the recipe.  From what I have learned about VWG this would be the valid reason for the addition.  Unfortunately, it sounds like the original recipe from the book does not call for it afterall.  For kicks, I will try it in this weekend's bake and see how it works out compared to all my previous bakes of this particular bread.

John

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

Hi John,

I have made Hamelman's Five Grain Levain so many times I have lost count.  It has become one of my favorites.  I have never used vital wheat gluten in this recipe and have not found the need for it.  I am able to develop the gluten sufficiently using a bread flour with 11.5% protein.  I often vary the mixture of seeds in the soaker, so feel free to experiment.  BTW, my edition of Bread doesn't include VWG in the formula.

One reason I rarely use VWG any longer is that I read that the glutens it contains are in the wrong proportion and don't really help in bread.  I don't know if this is true, and unfortunately I can't point to a reference for you because I seem to have lost it, so I hesitate to state it as fact.  But in this forumla, you really don't need it.  Some photos below.

-Brad

 

 UPDATE:

Here is a link to an article on VWG: [click] It looks like an excerpt from a book, but again there is no reference.  It says that the glutens in VWG tend to be shorter than those in the original flour it is produced from.  I don't know how this affects bread making, but there is probably no reason not to try it.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Breadforfun>  I have to say, your result of JH 5 grain is the best I have seen.  If these photos are from your bake, all I have to say is wow.  I want mine too look (and im sure taste) just like those!

I have never used VWG when baking JH 5 Grain Levain.  I think I must have taken someone's recipe addition to the recipe and mistook it for the original.

John

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

Thanks, John.  The very first time I made this formula was also the first time I "achieved" a bloom on a loaf.  This recipe has been so reliable every time I make it and it always looks the same.  I give credit to Hamelman's formula.  The photos are from my last bake a few weeks ago.  I try to keep a loaf in the freezer - it's excellent toasted.  I first encountered the formula here.

-Brad

 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Brad.  I actually used that website for reference a while back as well.  I do not own the book so I kind of just took a bunch of versions off the net and eventually made some adjustments.  I will try this exact one this weekend though as I want mine to look exactly like yours.  You are right, the main reason I make this bread so often is it's a great go to bread for toast.  Amazing fresh but then after a couple days, we use it for toast.  The long story behind my love for this bread starts 4 years ago when I ate my first loaf that sort of came close to JH's version.  We bought this particular bread every week and used it for toasting. This loaf was made at a local bakery, then the bakery closed.  A year later finally found a similar loaf but it was never the same.  When I started baking bread a few months back, the first bread I was even interested in learning was one that would be similar to the one I fell in love with 4 years ago.  With a little research on the internet, I found all these sites (the one you posted as well) and the photos looked EXACTLY like the bread I was searching for ever since that bakery closed years ago.  I tried the recipe, it came out somewhat ok.  Tried it again, and again, and made some loaves that finally I can say are a close second to that one beloved loaf.  Now that I saw your photos above, I have finally seen a bake that comes EXACTLY to the one we used to buy.  And THAT is why I want mine to turn out like yours.....:)

John

 

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

If I can help a fellow baker, just let me know.  Good luck on your journey!  Post your results of your next bake.

For my breads, I do not add the commercial yeast and I do retard the loaves free standing on parchment paper (i.e. no brotforms) in a plastic bag overnight in a rather cold (37˚F) refrigerator.  The next morning I will usually let it set at RT for about 3 hours before baking and use plenty of steam.

-Brad

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks Brad.  I will be omitting the commercial yeast as well and retard proof in fridge overnight.  I will take your advice of 3 hour roomtemp prior to bake.  The turkey roaster system I use allows for plenty of steam.  I will post my results and have you (and JH) to thank if it turns out nicely.

John

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Hey Brad.  I baked it up today and I have to say, you inspired this bake (link below).  I have David Snyder to thank for the scoring but the overall success to you.  I hope the crumb turns out close to yours!

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/30937/todays-jh-5-grain-levain-bake

John

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

anything goes well in bread as long as Ian stays out of the auto parts strore !  I use VWG all the time when I think it is necessary.  Some folks take out the bran when they mill their own grains by sifting.  I hardly ever sift, but if it do, I put the bran back in on the last S&F.   I personally think that to bake an artisan bread the one thing you have to do is to bake it in a WFO because there are still some of us that know the difference and nothing can replace it for taste and color.  Others disagree.  Some stick with flour, water, salt and yeast and anything else it less pure. 

That is the great thing about bread.  There isn't a right or wrong with the way you bake bread, it is just bread and nothing more than that - but it still means a lot to some and less to others.  Don't worry what anyone else says about VWG.  Be a libertarian about bread and don't let anyone tell you that it is right or wrong to use it - there isn't a right or wrong and those that push one need to lighten up and stifle themselves so the rest of us don't have deal with their, misguided,  unnatural thoughts about bread.  It is better to make bread what you can - not what others tell you you can't 

But we still need to keep Ian out of the auto parts store :-)

foodslut's picture
foodslut

It is better to make bread what you can - not what others tell you you can't

There's a t-shirt or bumper sticker slogan there.....

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Dabrownman.  You teach, I listen, I learn.  :)  Thanks!

John

suave's picture
suave

Because you sort of are - there is no wvg in any recipes in Hamelman.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Ok well I am glad you cleared that up.  I don't have his book so the recipe was probably taken from a few on the internet and this site, and someone somewhere added it into the recipe.

John

 

suave's picture
suave

I see.  Well, the book has 50% high gluten flour, 25% bread flour and 25% whole wheat.   Frankly, when I bake Hamelman levains I always adjust flour down - from high gluten to bread and from bread to all purpose.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Suave is correct.  No VWG mentioned in the book and in looking through the index of Bread, VWG is not mentioned anywhere.   

Am guessing it's another "adaptation" of  Mr. Hamelman's work.  His formula for five-grain levain does call for one pound of high-gluten flour.  Whoever put out the formula on the Internet perhaps forgot to note it wasn't the actual recipe, but a modification.   

I can understand why someone would try adding VWG if they don't have any way to get high-gluten flour, but it's not going to be the same.  I've found that HG flour has a distinct taste (especially in bagels), so by making such changes, one never gets to taste what the baker who authored the formula intended.

Anyway, it's a great bread and I hope it works out for the OP.

suave's picture
suave

I've found that HG flour has a distinct taste (especially in bagels) 

 

You have?  I've tried KABF and All Trumps bagels side by side and I could not be swayed in either direction.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

You have?  I've tried KABF and All Trumps bagels side by side and I could not be swayed in either direction.

We found a definite difference between KAFBF and KAFHG.   Taste and texture.   The BF version did not go over well with my family.  But then, we're kind of particular about bagels.

The KAF Sir Lancelot flour even smells different.

Never used All Trumps as the only store selling it here sells the bleached and bromated version.

proth5's picture
proth5

I thought that I was the only one smelling differences in flour.  I get distinct aromas from AP-Bread- High Gluten and cake flours (even unbleached cake flours).  I really thought I was losing my grip (and it's possible that I am - but maybe not in this regard).

Yes, it's important to remember to take time to smell the flours.

Pat

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Glenn,

Thanks for slowing me down so I read that right.  

Pat - very cute play on words....I am just a bit slow and need help with details :-)

Janet

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

 

Yes, it's important to remember to take time to smell the flours.

Well, if no one else is going to mention what a great comment that is, then I will.

Thanks, Pat.  Made my evening.

Glenn

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Pat's comment flew right by and off my radar with the rest of this thread.    Never saw it.  

Thanks, Glenn, for getting it back to the top.

Super wisdom and wit, Pat!     Glad to be in such good company!

proth5's picture
proth5

It really was just lying there - someone had to say it...