The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Wheat in Romania

gbbr's picture
gbbr

Wheat in Romania

This is my desperate attempt to find good wheat for my home mill.

I've gotten into baking bread at home a couple of months ago and have become quite obsessive about it, as I always do with my hobbies. I love it. I've learned a lot and the results of making bread at home are very rewarding. I don't want to buy bread from elsewhere again!

I've recently acquired a mill (Salzburger) and am trying to find good wheat grains for it. I've ran into 2 producers in Romania (Biofarmland and Terra Natura) which are highly respectable and trusted here. But their grains (and flour) always result in very weak low-gluten flour. It is hard to work with, it breaks when I stretch and fold, etc. The result isn't bad, but I've seen other much better flours.

My question is: is there anyone here that is Romanian and has any idea where I could acquire good wheat? Or, do I have to just get accustomed to using this weaker wheat? I want to support the local agriculture and I don't want to order from abroad. I've tried Googling but I didn't run into anything trusted. Perhaps in Romania these things are hard to find online, or most of the good wheat goes to export? Hard to say. 

(EDIT) UPDATE ON RECIPE DETAILS

Night before:

  • Milled approx. 700g of wheat grains. Sifted lightly, lost some bran (up to 10% of total weight).
  • Mixed 250g freshly ground wheat with 175g water (70%) and 1/16th tsp instant yeast. Noticed that the water was immediately absorbed and that the grain wanted more. Took note to increase total hydration to 80% when making the final dough the next day.

Morning:

Biga looked double. Quite stiff (a bit like mud).

Added the rest of the ingredients: 225g water to make up for the lack, 250g of flour and another 1/16 tsp instant yeast. Hydration still seemed low but moved forward. Will likely try 85-90% next recipe.

10 min later: tried a stretch and fold and it tore. A part of the dough broke as I lifted it. Decided be more careful the next try.

20 min after: next stretch and fold. Dough is not very elastic and quite sensitive. Small tears.

20 min after: final S&F, dough looked like this:

Left about 4-5 hours to bulk ferment. It about tripled in size.

Shaping:

Tried to shape it. Was very difficult, no seam at all. I wasn't sure if a bread will even come out of this. Moved to banneton for 1 hour. Got dutch oven hot in the mean time.

Baking:

Managed to remove from banneton, I didn't think I would succeed given how sticky it was. Dough had holes at the top, air pockets escaping. My hopes very low. Moved to dutch oven, I could see the top (which was the bottom in the banneton) was cracking open and realized it's not holding together. My hopes were becoming even lower. Nevertheless keen for a learning experience.

Baked for 23 minutes (as I usually do) at around 270C then 10 min at about 250C, final internal temp. 98C. Looked like this:

FInal result

The truth is that it tasted delicious. I don't think I ever had such a good bread. But my expectations were completely different.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the existing gluten?  

Make sure you are not purchasing feed grain, designed for animal feed.

Found this site on the net.  Perhaps contacting their customer service/inquiries might help.

https://biofarmland.com/en/bio-cereals-and-flours/

gbbr's picture
gbbr

Hey Mini! I've updated my post to describe the exact recipe I've followed, and added photos. I hope this helps more.

I actually did contact them right after posting here, because they seemed like very nice people with good principles so I figured why not tell them my disappointment, maybe I have wrong expectations or maybe there's something I'm doing wrong.

They've basically explained that their focus isn't developing a flour with high gluten, that their focus is developing nutrient-rich wheat grains. I find that a much better mission than the former. They've explained how industry-oriented manufacturers focus on developing gluten and that leads to compromises. They've also explained how they export this grain to Germany and other countries and they decide what to use it for. They recommended me to try out their spelt and einkorn.

Either way, I posted here before having the final result, based solely on how the dough was handled and a bit of negativity. I was very happy with the taste of the bread, even if it's not what I'm accustomed to, and I plan to try to continue improving in working with this wheat.

Any ideas, corrections or improvements are very welcome. Please note in my recipe that I accidentally forgot to add the salt.

David R's picture
David R

There can be a trade-off between "100% organic" and "easiest to bake with". I don't say that it always happens, but if a farmer and a miller are working hard to meet one set of requirements, they may not always be able to meet the other set of requirements at the same time. I haven't studied them, but the company names you've listed sound like they might be ones that emphasize organic production. You might try another company that has slightly different priorities. BUT I'm just guessing, and I may be quite wrong about everything.

gbbr's picture
gbbr

You're absolutely right. I spoke to the people who grow this wheat (see my reply to Mini above) and they've explained the same thing. I was very happy with the result, but it wasn't the everyday bread you expect to bake or see "on TV" or YouTube. That shiny seam gluten stretchy fluffy airy bread. It was different, but it was delicious. I plan to try and get better at working with it.

gbbr's picture
gbbr

Also worth noting that I did try another company in the meantine, which wasn't organic and had higher gluten. The dough was easier to work with, the bread came out with more oven spring and better looking, fluffier, etc, but the taste was nowhere as good. This is the "other bread":

WW-Non Organic

This encourages me even more to continue trying to work with the "more difficult" wheat.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Im hoping someone who is familiar with home milling jumps in here to help you.  When flour breaks when stretch and folding, my first thought is that the flour needs to hydrate more before developing the (I've been corrected, thanks) starch.  More information  is needed about how the grain was prepared before milling, what grain and basic recipe, please.

gbbr's picture
gbbr

I've updated my original message with a lot more detail and photos, hope that helps.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

you got there!

clazar123's picture
clazar123

A few questions about your experience with the flour you have.

When you say it "breaks" on stretch and fold, what exactly does the edge look like? Does it come apart and look like a bunch of hairs broke? I find with freshly milled flour that sometimes the enzymes take over and degrade the gluten. It goes from breaking into hair-ended looking clumps to wet goo a little later. This is dinstinctive and I believe you would have described your experience differently.

Alternatively, there are other reasons a dough will "break" on S&F. Hydration too low, lack of time to soak up the hydration and failing to develop as much starchy gel from the dough as possible. 

What hydration are you at with this freshly milled wheat? Fresh milled whole wheat can take a high hydration if it is given time to absorb it. Is there an autolyse or rest involved to give all those finely milled branny bits time to absorb the water? Minimum 30 minutes-hours are better. Sponge-biga-autolyse-retard-any format works.

Did you knead to develop the starchy gel? Get a windowpane? Crucial even with low protein flours.

Give it another try-paying attention to these techniques- and see if you can get a decent loaf.

gbbr's picture
gbbr

I've updated my original message to contain a lot more information and some images. Hope that helps me get better advice :)

About the window pane test, I keep seeing it being mentioned but I'm not sure what that is and how it helps. Do I have to throw the dough against the window? I hope not. It would definitely make my wife angry.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Google images for "whole wheat windowpane" and see what you find. This is why it is important to mix/knead/stretch& fold until the starchy gel is well developed and you can pull a window. Most  people say they knead to "develop the gluten". Gluten develops all on its own once water is introduced to flour so it doesn't need any further assistance. Starch, on the other hand, seems to need to be massaged and coaxed to develop fully. This allows the dough to form the bubbles needed to contain the gas that will then expand and rise in the oven heat.

Try again and coax more starchy gel by kneading/mixing or doing more S&F. I think it can be done.

 

gbbr's picture
gbbr

Ok I see what you mean. I might attempt introducing some kneading too. When I bake again, I will post updates. 

mwilson's picture
mwilson

I'm sorry but that's not right. Starch doesn't require any development and the windowpane is a result of gluten development.

Yes, gluten forms with hydration but it occurs unorganised initially. Kneading helps with hydration but mainly it facilitates the organisation of gluten into a network. The ability to pull, and the strength of the windowpane is determined by how organised the gluten matrix is.

There is no "starchy-gel". Starch doesn't become a gel until you heat it (roux) and I think it hydrates quite easily.

Flour does contain some non starch polysaccharides that are referred to as gels but their role is minor relatively speaking.

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Just a thought:  Have you considered experimenting with lower hydration and see how the loaf turns out? Your judgment about how much water the weak flour needs may be off.

Yippee

gbbr's picture
gbbr

I might try that, but I don’t think I would like the result as it would most likely be a dense crumb and I don’t fancy that. The flour absorbs A LOT of water. I actually want to add more on my next try. Maybe 85-90%. 

gbbr's picture
gbbr

I’m going to follow up here for people reading this and being curious about the outcome. An autolyse period of at least 1 hour made the dough considerably smoother.

Dough is still very sticky low gluten and hard to work with, but I guess that’s just the characteristic of the wheat. Had a bit more success on the second attempt. A bit more volume too. Learning...

You can compare the photo below to the one in the original post at the top to get an idea of how S&F looked back then. Also, if you pay close attention, you’ll also notice I forgot the salt at the time, which is said to help with gluten development. 

Autolyse

jarananas's picture
jarananas

Hi! I'm from Romania and the best flour I' ve used here is made by a guy who reconditioned an old stone mill and now produces the most wonderful flour, 14% protein. "Moara cu pietre" is the name of this place and their site is www.moaracupietre.ro You can contact him and find out their wheat supplier. From my knowledge, in Romania has been developed lately a very well appreciated type of wheat, Ciprian is the name of it. I don't know if Moara cu pietre uses it or not. I can only testify about their flour being great. Good luck!

gbbr's picture
gbbr

Indeed! I have used (and am still using) “Moara cu pietre” flour! It’s absolutely fantastic! It’s just grains that I haven’t found at the time. I have recently tried “Solaris” wheat which was also very impressive (similar to MCP). 

I did not know about “Ciprian”. Thanks a lot for sharing that. I am going to look into it. I am from Cluj. 

jarananas's picture
jarananas

Best of luck! Living in Cluj will help getting Ciprian. It was developed by an agronomic research unit close to Timisoara. I live in Bucharest.