The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Chinese Bread Recipe Question

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Nettie Baker's picture
Nettie Baker

Chinese Bread Recipe Question

I have come across a recipe and I have questions about it. I have posted it here. I am wanting to know why a high protein and a low protein flour are combined in the recipe. I have searched for information online and cannot find any, as to why the two flours are combined. I have found a number of other Chinese bread making recipes that call for high protein flour and low protein flour in the same recipe. It appears to be something that is common in Chinese bread baking.  Since so many of their recipes are like this, there has to be a reason. I was wondering about the quality of their flours? Is it for texture? What is the food science behind this?

Can anyone help me understand why two different flours are used?  Let me post the one recipe that started my questions. Here it is:

Sponge

  • High gluten flour (210 g) = 7.4 ounces
  • Low-gluten flour (90 g) = 3.17 ounces          
  • Yeast (6 g) = .211 ounces      
  • Water (240 g) = 8.465 ounces
  • Fine sugar (24 grams) = .846 ounces

Main Dough

  • High gluten flour (210 g) = 7.4 ounces
  • Low-gluten flour (90 g) = 3.17 ounces
  • Water (54 g) = 1.90 ounces
  • Fine sugar (96 grams) = 3.386 ounces
  • Milk powder (24 g) = .846 ounces
  • Salt (1.5 teaspoons) =
  • Whole egg (90 g) = 3.17 ounces
  • 72 g butter (to taste) = 2.539 ounces
  • Melted butter (small)

Thanks!

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Bread is a matrix of gluten strands that traps the starchy gel and whatever else that we add to the dough. Water allows the gluten and starch to form, resting the dough in some form of autolyse,using a tang zhong,, preferment,sponge,etc helps to allow the wheat to absorb the water so gluten and gel can form, kneading the dough exposes more gluten and starch to the water and helps "organize" the matrix. Salt and acid can affect gluten and gel formation by chemically binding the molecules. That is why salt is sometimes added after the dough is well kneaded (don't forget it!). The texture of the resulting loaf depends on ratios of gluten to starch and also how much the gluten and starch are developed by the kneading/slap&fold/S&F/stretches (or whatever process you use). The purpose of different ratios of gluten/starch is to change the outcome of the crumb-soft,fluffy,chewy,dense,etc. Higher amounts of gluten (as a percentage of the total) usually increase the chewiness. Lower amounts contribute to more cake-like texture. Feathery textures means you have the ratio of gluten to starch correct, have fully developed both in the dough and have correct hydration levels. It also means that the dough was strong enough to be able to hold the developing gas bubbles and relaxed enough to expand to allow the matrix to rise and separate with a lot of air spaces.

Knowing this concept of bread, the purpose of using a high gluten flour in a recipe is that the baker wants a readily available source of gluten. In my opinion, though, high gluten flour (vital wheat gluten and bread flour) are often used INSTEAD of developing the gluten already present in adequate amounts in AP flour by kneading/manipulating the dough well enough to develop it.

The purpose of using a low gluten flour is to provide a source for more starchy gel. This can be in the form of soft wheat flour, potato flour, potatoes or other vegetables, tapioca or corn starch, ground flax or chia seed,non-wheat flours such as rice,buckwheat,amaranth,etc,etc. There is a limit to the ratio of gel to gluten because the gel needs the support of the gluten to form the dough matrix as it rises and must be able to release enough water as it bakes so the crumb is not gummy (like partially dehydrated bread dough).

Back to your question. With the recipe written as it is, I'm not sure what the ingredients are really meant to be. "High gluten flour" could be vital wheat gluten or a bread flour. "Low gluten flour" could be soft wheat flour, some AP flours or a non-wheat flour such as corn starch,potato flour,tapioca starch,etc. My suggestion is to try with wheat based flours such as bread flour and AP flour and see how it comes out.

I am not a food scientist and it took me years to figure this all out and I did it right here and in my kitchen. So keep asking questions because every time I answer one, I am forced to organize my thoughts and knowledge. Keep baking and trying different things. This is a world-wide forum with bakers from newby to expert. It is great.

Nettie Baker's picture
Nettie Baker

*Bowing in Clazar's direction*   You sound like a very knowledgeable bread maker. I am so impressed with your response. It is clear and informative. I truly appreciate it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Bowing back in humbleness. I am like someone putting a puzzle together. The pieces are already made and have all the information on them-I just bring them together.

I think understanding the concepts and relationships of all this information (both the picture on the puzzle piece and how the shape fits with the other pieces) helps to construct a dimensional understanding of the bigger concept.

Bread is so simple and so complex that it really is a delicious puzzle! Have fun!

Nettie Baker's picture
Nettie Baker

Yep, you are right. Understanding the concepts...I am looking at that recipe and wondering what the high protein to low protein ratio is. Than the water. That way, I can take my favorite recipe (Lambert's "throwed" rolls recipe) and make a few modifications. I did, too. Lambert's copycat recipe calls for 4 cups flour. I gave it 4.5 ounces per cup of flour. 3 of them were bread flour (13.3% protein) and White Lily (6.6% protein) was the last one. I like a sticky dough, so I followed there recipe, but added 2 ounces more. It is very hot here today, and it all worked out well. The dough is better then when I use straight bread flour. I totally love the feel of this one. I'll let you know how it turns out. I love this stuff!

Nettie Baker's picture
Nettie Baker

that the water is what I added two more ounces of. And, after kneading and letting it rest, I put it in the fridge to do it's first rise, while I just sit and veg. I'll bake in the early morning when it's not so hot.