The Fresh Loaf

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Best Flour For Soft Buns?

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BakerNewbie's picture
BakerNewbie

Best Flour For Soft Buns?

I'm trying to make cinnamon rolls and dinner rolls. What is the best type of flour to use for these types of bread? Should I use AP flour? Or bread flour?

One recipe I saw had vital wheat gluten. I'm guessing for more gluten development? Is more gluten ideal for such breads?

By the way, I enjoy explanations that include some science in it. It's a fascinating subject for me.

alschmelz's picture
alschmelz

If you were to look at the nutrition labels on both bags of flour you would find that bread flour has a higher protein content.  In baking, when you hear the word protein you should automatically think "GLUTEN!"

If bread flour has a higher protein content then naturally the gluten complex that it forms is stronger, therefore creating a bread that is heavier and more dense than what All-Purpose flour will give you.  This does not mean, however, that All-Purpose flour does not result in a well developed gluten complex because it works just as well.

Personally, I would use AP flour for the cinnamon rolls because I like my cinnamon rolls to be a bit lighter but I have seen several recipes for cinnamon rolls that use bread flour. It's just a matter of preference.

For the dinner rolls it's again a matter of preference.  If you like a small dense roll then bread flour is probably the way to go.  If you like lighter, fluffier roll then I would probably go with AP flour.

Often the two can be substituted for one another, however.

BakerNewbie's picture
BakerNewbie

If AP produces lighter and fluffier bread and bread flour produces denser bread -- if I wanted to go even lighter and fluffier than AP, would I try something that has less protein than AP? Perhaps cake flour???

Also, does the leavening agents (yeast, baking powder, baking soda, etc.) have anything to do with how light/fluffy/dense a bread is? For example, what if I don't put a lot of leaveners with AP flour OR if I put a lot of leaveners in bread flour? What would the results be?

Fancy Jim's picture
Fancy Jim

No on the cake flour. Too little gluten will give you undesired results. You need gluten to form the network which will trap the air and allow your bread to rise.

In my experience, AP gives a fluffier softer loaf than Bread Flour. Overworking the dough can also make it tougher, but again it's a balancing act because you need to form the gluten strands in the first place.

When I want something light and fluffy, I tend to work the dough just to the point where it "changes" (becomes smooth and silky) and not a bit more.

Fancy Jim's picture
Fancy Jim

Also if you want fluffy dinner rolls, powdered milk and a fair amount of added fat goes a long way. I developed a fluffy roll recipe which uses 17 ounces of AP flour, 3 tbsp of milk powder and 2 ounces (4 tbsp) of light baking olive oil. It makes 16 rolls. You can also add an egg as the lecithin in the yolk is something of a dough conditioner. That's not the entire recipe, just giving you an idea of ratios.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I agree with the advice you have already received. A couple other thoughts: First, I have seen several recipes for soft rolls, such as cinnamon rolls, that include some potato starch.

Second, be aware that if you are making a highly enriched dough, that is, one with lots of fat (Think brioche), you may want to shift to a higher gluten flour and also osmotolerant yeast.

David

BakerNewbie's picture
BakerNewbie

Sorry, I am a bit confused by your comment. One advice was to use AP flour. You seem to be suggesting that I need higher gluten flour (I assume bread flour) due to the fat amount???

I've seen recipes with mashed potatoes, potato water, and potato starch. Is there a general guideline for adding these to an existing recipe? Perhaps a percentage of the flour (I'm loving bakers' percentage).

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Please note the "if" in that sentence. It applies to recipes with high fat content (40 or 50+%)

Sorry, I don't have a guideline for potato products as a bread ingredient. I use it very, very rarely and, then, it's not to make the bread lighter but for flavor, primarily.

David

BakerNewbie's picture
BakerNewbie

So 40% is the magic number? I'll compute the fat in my recipe and see if I should go with higher protein flour.

I've seen cakes with oil as in ingredient. I think it's supposed to make the cake lighter. Is that so? And if so, will it work for brioche-type bread? Any guidelines on adding oil to an existing recipe?

PetraR's picture
PetraR

When I make soft buns I use AP flour , but there is also the Tangzhong method which will give you very soft and fluffy rolls/ bread.

The first link is how she explains in what ratio of flour and water tangzhong is made, the second link shows how she makes a bread using tangzhong.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNEYozbdP4Q

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mvPIMcS7sQ

I have not yet used tangzhong but will do soon.

BakerNewbie's picture
BakerNewbie

Thanks, I am looking into using a water roux and/or autolyse. Do you know if either technique works better with a particular type of flour?

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I have not yet used this method yet but when I try I shall use AP flour first as I use AP flour for soft buns.

 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

In order to make soft,fluffy bread, you need a certain amount of gluten in the flour, adequate liquid/ water to hydrate the gluten and the starch and adequate kneading time. But also important is that how you work the dough will determine if the loaf comes out soft and feathery or soft and chewy.  No matter which flour you use, the fluffiest bread is made by kneading the dough to a windowpane. The following post explains windowpane pretty well. To overknead to the point it dissolves into a puddle is almost impossible by hand.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/23061/extremely-sourdough-soft-sandwich-bread-most-shreddble-soft-velvety-ever

And then txfarmer wrote up the water roux method:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/23662/sourdough-hokkaido-milk-loaf-classic-shreddable-soft-bread

So which flour to use? It depends on the outcome you want.

Most brand name AP flours have sufficient gluten to make a great loaf of bread. I prefer to use a brand name AP flour and sometimes even add either a little cake flour, potato starch or corn starch. But with less gluten, I have to pay attention to making sure I hydrate and then knead to a windowpane. Being a bit more fragile, this loaf will also tend to overproof easily so I don't raise this type to double on the final proof-maybe 3/4.

Many recipes call for bread flour. That works, also, but since there is more gluten present, the dough feels a bit more substantial (which feels a little rubbery to me). It makes it feel like the dough develops so often people don't knead to windowpane.The bread may raise well but it is a little tougher than feathery, in my opinion.

So try a brand name, unbleached AP flour,make sure it has sufficient liquid, knead to windowpane (easier to do before adding salt and fat) and see how it turns out. Then do the same recipe and same kneading to windowpane using bread flour and see which one you like better.

Have delicious fun!

 

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BakerNewbie's picture
BakerNewbie

This was very insightful. Thanks. I use a mixer. Any tips on making sure I don't over knead? If I were to make something in bulk, I won't have time to do this manually, right?

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

using a powerful industrial mixer, you might over knead it but, using a home mixer, it is ppretty hard to over knead.  Just check for windowpane as you get close and no worries.  A mixer is the way to go with a lot of dough

You can slap and fold a large amount of dough but since this  will likely be a highly enriched dough, it might take 20-40 minutes.   With a large amount a dough, you also better be in really good slap and fold shape even if you break it into 2 - 20 minute sessions.  Still, if you need a good workout.....