The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

QUESTION: mixing all purpose and bread flours...

subfuscpersona's picture

QUESTION: mixing all purpose and bread flours...

I've noticed some bakers here mixing some all purpose flour with bread flour in their artisan loaves and I've wondered why they do it.

I realize subbing some AP flour will somewhat lower the gluten forming ability of the dough. What pluses does it bring to the dough?

A typical bake for me is a sourdough artisan bread (flour, water, levain, salt) with about 30% whole grain (mostly whole wheat flour, small percentage of whole rye flour) and hydration of 70-72%, so if you, dear readers, could respond in that context, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks in advance

PS The white flour I normally use is Gold Medal unbleached bread flour (about 12% protein).

cranbo's picture

Reducing protein should increase crumb softness and reduce chew of texture somewhat. If you find your sourdough too "chewy" then this may be of benefit. 

Lower protein flour should decrease elasticity (i.e., increase extensibility). That may not be good for a sourdough, many of which tend to be slack.

I think lower protein can also help increase crust crispiness.

As I'm sure you know, all bread flour is not created equal. For example, KA bread flour is around 12.7 protein, which is much higher than most (KA's all purpose is 11.7%, closer to your Gold Medal bread flour). So different flour mixing can give wildly different effects.  

Antilope's picture

But I have seen professional recipes that mix bread flour and cake or pastry flour. I don't understand that one at all. Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen has a Sweet Roll Dough that uses bread flour and cake flour. Other recipes in the book use a mixture of bread flour and cake or pastry flour in biscuits. A bran muffins recipe also uses a mixture of bread and pastry flour. By mixing bread and pastry flour, don't you end up with a flour with protein similar to all-purpose flour? There must be another reason.

cranbo's picture

Yep you're right about the protein level, but there are other qualities of cake/pastry flour that the baker might want to harness in tweaking their product. Fineness of grind, for example, which affects dough texture. If you've made some bread or pizza skins with the baby-powder-like Caputo 00 you'll know what I mean. IMO finer flours give a sort of "silkier" texture to baked products. 

Type of wheat when mixing flours is an important factor, cake/pastry flours are typically made of soft wheat. Harder wheat is more subject to starch damage, which means it absorbs more water. Softer wheat absorbs less water, so less water is necessary.