The Fresh Loaf

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Can Plain Flour be used to make bread dough?

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angiechia's picture
angiechia

Can Plain Flour be used to make bread dough?

Hi

I am new to this forum, and am taking time to digest the tonnes of info here!

But I need to ask something quickly. I am now in the Middle East, trying to find bread flour to make some bread. But there is none! There are only Flour No 1, No2 and No 3. I believe No 1 is plain flour, but am wondering what is the numberss 2 and 3 flour? If I can't find "bread flour", can I use plain flour in its place?

I have more questions to ask later, but now need this urgently as i really yearn for some home-made bread!

Thanks! 

sphealey's picture
sphealey

I can't say I have been to the Middle East much less purchased flour there, but these two links tend to confirm my thought that the standard flour in that region would be soft wheat which would be optimal for flatbreads.  However they both also indicate that hard wheat flours (which have more usable gluten) are available:

http://www.bustandubai.com/ejune29/flourdn.htm

http://www.alnaheem.com/dahabi.html

I was not able to find a definition of Flour No. 1, Flour No. 2, and Flour No. 3 in a short search for sources in English.

sPh

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

As sphealey said, hard wheat, high gluten flours are certainly optimal for bread.  That said, if you're just out to create good bread, and not top-notch artisanal stuff, I say give the flour you have a try.  I'm willing to bet it'll work just fine.

angiechia's picture
angiechia

Hi sph and fancypantalons

will try with the flour and let u know how it goes. wish me luck!

thanks! 

 

 

dougal's picture
dougal

fancypantalons wrote:
As sphealey said, hard wheat, high gluten flours are certainly optimal for bread. That said, if you're just out to create good bread, and not top-notch artisanal stuff, ...
Hang on, there!

Two things: -

Actually, sphealy said something rather different: "... the standard flour in that region would be soft wheat which would be optimal for flatbreads .."

 

Hard wheat flours are only "optimal" for a specific type of bread. And its not "top-notch artisanal stuff". Such flours are "optimal" for ho-hum tall "light" white breads.

Without exception that I know of, all the French notables, Poilâne included, use rather soft wheat flour, with less than 12% protein.

 

When working with lower protein flours than you are accustomed to, don't expect the bread to rise as much during 'proofing'. Remember that under-proofed is better than over-proofed, and aim to maximise the oven spring rather than the proofing rise.

If you want to try and strengthen the flour with a harmless additive, about 1/3 of a gram of Vitamin C to a kilo of flour might help. And using 'active dry' (rather than instant-mix dry) yeast would help with adding extensibility (or even use some stale 'fresh' yeast - its the dead yeast cells that provide the extensibility conditioner).

 

However angiechia, I'm sorry, but I can't help with your No's 1, 2 & 3. You might get some sort of an indication by discovering what the locals use those different grades for!

And I hope to learn from whatever you discover!

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

"Hard wheat flours are only "optimal" for a specific type of bread. And its not "top-notch artisanal stuff". Such flours are "optimal" for ho-hum tall "light" white breads."

That's odd, considering that all the artisanal bread recipes I've come across specify bread flour, which is usually 11%+ protein content.  Now, granted, most of the recipes I've looked at are from the BBA, but I kind of assumed that book represented "standard" practice in the world of bread baking.

"Without exception that I know of, all the French notables, Poilâne included, use rather soft wheat flour, with less than 12% protein."

Interesting!  So just how soft a flour do they end up using?

dougal's picture
dougal

I've recently acquired Calvel (in French) and Lalos (which is in French with a parallel {though occasionally iffy} English translation. Quite apart from the vocab (hence Lalos) Calvel's language isn't quite the French I learned at school! Nevertheless, its clear that he considers "farine panifiable" (bread flour) to be between 11 and 12% protein.

Lalos actually goes so far as to say that bread flour is made from soft wheat, whereas hard wheat is used for pasta and such!

Jack Lang ("jackal10") knows what he's doing, and is quite happy to go below 10%... !

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=112897

 

Kuret's picture
Kuret

Why not try them all out? Buy like 1# of each and make a similar loaf with them all. maybe a french bread with poolish.

 poolish 100 water + 100 flour + 0,5 instant yeast

400 flour + 200 poolish + 225 water + 10 salt + 3,5 instant yeast

(in grams) 

If you make three breads according to this formula and then bake them under similar conditions you will get a good idea of how your flours compare to each other.

NOTE: The formula contains 20% prefermented flour, preferment beeing 50% of the flour weight or 40% of the TFW. Hydration is 65% wich should work even for rather soft wheat varieties. I also assumme that you know how long you ferment your doughs etc.  

 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

This is a guess. But it may be that those numbers may be grades of flour. No 1 being all white flour, No 3 being all whole wheat and No 2 something in between.

Rudy

antonis's picture
antonis

 

Dear angiechia,

 No 1 is hard. No 2 is all purpose, No3 is pastry (very soft).

However all flours in our region are made of soft wheat. No1 is produced by removing protein from a quantity of soft flour and adding it to another one. That is why No1 is usually marked as "hard flour from soft wheat" which sounds as contradiction in terms...

 The reason they do it this way is that hard wheat is very expensive since most European wheat is soft. Canadian and US are hard (and expensive for us). Use imported US or Canadian flour only for demanding baking (heavy sweet and buttery doughs). Otherwise No1 and No2 are good for bread making and OK priced.

 

Enjoy.