The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Disappearing Gluten?

Dutchman's picture

Disappearing Gluten?

I recently discovered a nearly full bag of Antimo Caputo 00 “Chef’s Flour” lurking at the back of my pantry.  The bag had a use by date of 2014 but it had been stored in a cool, dry pantry for the last 4 years.  It looked fine, smelled fine, tasted fine.... why not use it up, right?

Three attempts at pizza later, I’m stumped.  The first round started with a poolish to lend some extensibility to the dough.  Strangely textured even after the initial mixing, fermenting for the usual 12 hours produced a larger mass that was devoid of any of the usual bubbly, stringy character I’m used to.  Proceeding to a final dough (if you can even call it that) resulted in a material more like Play-Doh than something intended for pizza.  No windowpane, not even a string of connective tissue was present.  It looked more like a cookie dough than anything related to bread.

i wrote that off as an obvious error on my part, probably due to an ever-dwindling attention span.  Two more attempts later using the Forkish single ball recipe as a standard lead me to believe  that this time it may not be my fault.  And with two fresher bags of 00 as a control, I think I may have even proved my innocence.

The question is: What Happened?  Does gluten evaporate over time?  Is there some reaction that can occur over time to render it so utterly useless?  Or did it just curl up and die from loneliness?

I’ve tossed the rest of that bag but would appreciate any theories on the cause.

clazar123's picture

It might be interesting to see how much gluten is in the bag. Take equal small amounts (about 1 cup) and put into 2 separate bowls. Add enough water to make a liquid. Let sit for a short period and them strain out the starch over a doubled cheesecloth. Wash additional starch away and you are left with gluten string/dough. Compare the amounts and maybe you have the start of an answer, as in- Is there gluten in this flour?

Here is a youtube about how to do it and I know it has been described here on TFL.

I  have no idea what would degrade the gluten in long standing, cool stored flour unless it was exposed to extremes of temp....maybe. They are proteins, after all.

Follow up and let us know what happens!


I think this is much more fun to watch:

Dutchman's picture

That's an excellent suggestion but I ended my experiment by baking off the doughs into the world's worst focaccia ever. None of the old flour left at this point.

Filomatic's picture

I had similar problems with it, too, namely little evidence of fermentation in pizza dough compared to AP, followed by thick gummy layer in crust.  When I searched here and elsewhere I found that 00 Caputo type flour is specifically designed for very high pizza temperatures, i.e., over 700 F, perhaps even over 800 F.  I found others with the gummy layer complaint.  To be fair, a couple folks have reported good results at 550.

What is perplexing is that it's not widely advertised as such.