How flours relate to hydration level, texture, and flavour
I have been using the off-the-shelf organic, hard AP bread flour from the local natural foods store. From reading "AP" and "bread flour" seem to be somewhat contradictory, but that's how it's labelled. I was happy with the results, but buying in 2K packages was expensive. I bought a 10K bag and that gave a much better price. When I went in to order a 20K bag they told me it was unavailable, but they could get another flour with and equal protein content. Long story short, the new flour is terrible. The baguettes have a texture that is more like biscuits than bread. The store is unable to tell me the difference between the flours and the original one was an OEM packaging without a specific protein content on the bag. The new, bad, flour is 10% protein. Now I'm on the road and baking at my brother's house. I bought a bag of Bob's Red Mill organic unbleached white flour with >11% protein content. A totally different animal. Bread made with 100% Bob's has a wonderful flavour and texture. Amazingly different, really. I did a 75% hydration with 100% Bob's and was unable to do the slap-and-fold technique because the dough held together so strongly. Now I'm at another stop and was running out of Bob's, so I used it for the poolish and then an AP flour for the other 2/3 of the total flour for the dough. With this mix the slap-and-fold technique worked fine. So, I'm kind of shocked at the vast differences in handling betweent he different flours. It kind of puts the whole hydration level thing in perspective. One person's gooey 70% hydration makes sense as does someone else's almost dry 75% hydration. I will be much more careful about my flour selections in the future. I thought it was interesting.