The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is vital wheat gluten only useful for recipes with non-AP/bread flours? How much should I use?

icantbakeatall's picture
icantbakeatall

Is vital wheat gluten only useful for recipes with non-AP/bread flours? How much should I use?

Got some VWG and attempted to use it in my regular roll recipe. The results were interesting. It rose more and seemed fluffier but seemed like it needed to be baked at a lower temperature. The dough seemed more elastic. I used about 1 tsp per cup of flour. Any suggestions or info would be appreciated! Sorry in advance to any purists!

FueledByCoffee's picture
FueledByCoffee

A lot of times VWG is used in conjunction with flours such as whole wheat or rye where you don't get the same strength in your dough as you would using AP/bread.  It is also used heavily in industrial bakeries as a way to increase volume and dough tolerance.  There's nothing "wrong" with using it but most home bakers and artisan bakers don't find it necessary for most recipes.  It should also be noted that when adding VWG you should also increase your hydration, approx .25% VWG to 1% water.

SugarOwl's picture
SugarOwl

I tried it in my usual sandwich bread which is 1/3 whole wheat. The only difference was that it helped keep it's rise because I over proofed the dough. Texture was the same as my other loaf and I baked my two loaves side by side. The dough did get more elastic quicker which was interesting in itself though. I think I used about a tablespoon for my 3 cups of flour (10oz a.p. flour + 5 oz of whole wheat). I read that using bread flour with the whole wheat helps like the VWG does because of it's increased protein. So once I run out of my current box I think I'll stick with bread flour (and keep a closer eye on the proofing).

FueledByCoffee's picture
FueledByCoffee

Well, it's not exactly that you're increasing the protein by using bread flour with whole wheat.  Whole wheat flour has just as much and in some cases more protein than AP or Bread Flour.  It should be understood that protein does not directly equate to strengthening your dough.  It matters where that protein comes from in the wheat kernel (the bran, the germ, or the endosperm) and you can get a better picture of that by knowing the ash content of the flour.  The main reason whole wheat flour does not develop the same way as AP/Bread flour is not because it doesn't have as much protein but because the added bran interferes with the gluten development...

It makes perfect sense that your dough would become elastic more quickly with VWG added especially if you didn't adjust your water.  Gluten will develop quicker in a dryer environment due to increased friction and VWG sucks up a lot of water.  The VWG helping you still achieve good results despite over proofing is exactly what I was referring to when I said that commercial bakeries use it to "increase dough tolerance".  Vital wheat gluten, along with a slew of other products that increase the dough's ability to perform despite slight variations in proof time and temperature (ascorbic acid, certain enzyme packages etc.), are used to give commercial bakeries a little bit of leeway for things such as mechanical issues.  Say you're pumping out 3 800 pound doughs an hour and your loading mechanism on your oven breaks down.  It takes your mechanics 10 minutes to fix it.  With no additives that 10 minutes could be the difference between a perfectly proofed product and garbage.  At which point you now would have your proof box filled with 2400 pounds of garbage...not a pretty sight, trust me, I've seen it happen on occasions when the mechanics couldn't fix the problem so quickly. 

icantbakeatall's picture
icantbakeatall

That's very interesting! So, is 1 tsp per cup of flour recommended? I did two different things this time...first, it seems to me like I let it rise longer than i normally do. Second, i usually will set out my covered , rising dough in some sunlight on the table. This time there was no sunlight and it was freezing, so i put the dough and  a large measuring cup filled with boiling water in the microwave and poked a few holes in the saran wrap cover and let it rise.

FueledByCoffee's picture
FueledByCoffee

For you as a home bread baker I would generally suggest that the use of vital wheat gluten is not necessary...I am currently the head baker at a small bakery and am no longer in the industrial bread world and don't even have vital wheat gluten in my bakery at all...I don't find it necessary...