Evaluating mystery flours
Hi! I'm in Uruguay and don't have access to a large variety of flours. The main flours available here have really crappy gluten, this post by someone in Argentina could have been written by me. My doughs look very similar.
I can even get 0 and 00 flours here at the normal grocery store, which are supposedly better for bread than 000 and 0000, but my breads still turn out pretty flat and the dough is sticky, my 68ish % hydration doughs look like other people's 75-80% doughs, and that's even with using 20-30% whole wheat!! I have to go to about 50% or lower hydration to have something that doesn't cling to my (heavliy floured before each time I touch it) hands. Also, all the flours seem to be 10% protein, from the "bread" flour to the "pastry" flour. Not sure if that's the flour brand being lazy and throwing their average of all flours on every variety, or if they are actually all the same as far as basic nutrional info.
Besides the grocery store flours, there are a lot of little health food stores that buy in bulk and make little packages of various flours and other misc dry goods that have basically no information. So I have no way of knowing if something is hard/soft winter/spring etc wheat, or protein percentages or anything. I can buy something called "gluten" to add to the flour but I have no idea if it's similar to the 70+% gluten flour you can get in the States, or the 40% "high gluten flour" the woman in the thread linked above could find in Argentina.
There are at least three brands of organic/biodynamic nicer whole wheat flours, plus a bunch of other whole wheat flours of varying coarseness, but none of them talk about what kind of wheat varieties they are. It'd be nice to have some kind of criteria I could use to compare them.
So, what can I do to try to get an idea of what baking qualities a flour will have? Besides baking a whole loaf and crying. I thought of testing water absorption, comparing textures of a given amount of flour plus water, but I'm not really sure what I'd be looking for. Anyone have any tips or guides?
And on a similar subject: Rye. I want to make rye bread, but there is only one kind of "harina de centeneo" I can find and I have no idea if it light/medium/dark etc rye, so I'm not really sure how to follow a recipe for rye bread. Any tips on rye identification?