Ok, a little background on this crazy-sounding title:
Since the pandemic, I've been hard pressed to find local wheat berries. The hard spring red that I've been ordering have been under-performing gluten-wise for bread (more like a 10% rather than a 13% protein content). Rather than search for a new supplier or buy vital wheat gluten like a normal person, I've taken the 'mad scientist' route, as Peter Reinhart might call it.
In addition to my regular pre doughs, a soaker + a biga (commercially yeasted because my new rental seems to be filled with bad guys so that keeping a starter -- and much of my garden -- healthy is a bit more work than usual) I've gotten into the habit of making a washed dough from white flour.
The idea is:
- Mix a small white flour dough (white flour weight about 20% of my total whole wheat weight)
- Autolyze about 10 minutes (water content just enough to form a dough)
- Knead 2-3 minutes with a spoon
- Pop it into a mason jar with a mesh (or cheese cloth) lid
- Let warm water run over it until it comes out clean
- Finish with cool water, pop it in the fridge
What's left over looks like a snot ball, about 20% the size of the original mass, and should be a high-hydration dough that is mostly gluten. I pop this in with my (hydration-adjusted) predoughs when I'm mixing the next day. About 70% of the time I find that this significantly improves the dough elasticity. The other 30% of the time, the gluten seems to dissolve and disappear with no effect.
This is a fairly new practice to me, so I haven't controlled for all the variables. I'm wondering if anyone else has experimented down this route? I'm guessing that my 30% failure comes from my predoughs and not the gluten ball
I'm curious about how treating the fresh gluten ball prior to addition might affect the final loaf, and will probably experiment over the holidays a bit. Some ideas I might investigate are:
- Kneading alone prior to combining
- Salt/acid/heat treatment
- Adding mixers into the gluten to trap flavor (how it is used in some Chinese soups)
- Adding it to the biga/soaker straight away
- combining it with a non-glutenous flour to make hybrid breads (specifically interested in a masa corn bread which usually has a watered down taste in the 50/50 flour version)
- Some kind of fermentation (not necessarily yeast)? Maybe cool flavors
I can't find any info online about this so I figured I'd post here to see if anyone had thoughts :)