The Fresh Loaf

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Help with handling strong high protein baker flour

JeanDo's picture

Help with handling strong high protein baker flour

Hello Everyone,

I'd like to draw on your experience with working with strong high protein baker flour for sourdough loaves.

I have been trying this "stone milled organic prairie hard red" 14.5% protein flour from brodflour -  ( - but what works usually with "regular " flour doesn't any more. I was expecting a stronger and more extensible dough more capable of holding those nice big elusive cells but ended up with loaves that weren't that airy and above all waaaay too chewy, sometime comically so (Think duck toy sound effect from 36-hour baguettes ).

So what is the trick with working with type type of flour ? in terms of handling, mixing, autolyse length, etc.  I'm used to dealing with regular WW,AP, with decent results. 

Thanks for your insights,



mariana's picture

Hi Jean, 

what happened is that previously you baked with all-purpose flour, which in Canada means that you can bake bread or cookies with it equally well.

Brodflour doesn't sell all-purpose or bread flour, there is no such indication on their bag. They only indicate that it is wheat, nothing else, and measure its falling number and total protein. In other words it is not suitable for anything specific and especially not for baking anything specific. 

Imagine buying not ribeye, not filet mignon, but simply 'whatever beef' and trying to fry a delicious steak with it. Depending on 'beef' you might be lucky or not since it is just 'beef' not a specific cut for a specific dish. You might as well end up with a very rubbery steak. 

Even if it is bread wheat, because it is freshly milled it is hardly suitable for baking bread. They simply indicate on their bags that it should be used in cooking within 7 days after milling because after that it will become rancid. 

There was another person baking in Ontario who had the same issue with freshly milled 'wheat' flour also bought from a miller in Ontario. It was simply unsuitable for bread baking. You can see the discussion here:

Hard wheat is hard. It is not more extensible, it is harder to stretch. After proper treatment with chemicals it requires a lot of kneading and a lot of strong yeast to make it rise into tall and majestic loaves. Without it, as is, it gives tiny and tight rubbery loaves. 

If you want to finish the bag that you already have, you can blend it little by little with regular all-purpose flour, white or whole wheat, just for taste. Also, you can use Fleishmann's Pizza yeast sold in grocery stores. It has a special ingredient in it called L-cysteine  that makes dough very extensible, stretchy, it can help your sourdough loaves to rise tall with large open pores, even if baked with such hard to stretch wheat.

If you look carefully, many bags of Canadian all-purpose and bread flour have L-cysteine added to it, for example RobinHood Best for Bread flours, it says so on the label, to help with extensibility of the very hard Canadian wheats. 

best wishes, 


JeanDo's picture

Thank you so much Mariana, very enlightening (and unless I missed something surprisingly not often discussed around here) - This raises a couple of questions : What is the purpose of this type of hard, freshly milled flour then ?? (I've asked Brodflour, waiting for their response),  and how do the people milling their own flour do ? Do they have to add ingredients to make the flour more bread-baking-friendly ?

Thanks again

mariana's picture


I am afraid that answers to those are outside of my field of expertise. I buy flours indicated for specific purposes, probably both because I am a chef and because 'wild' flours give me 'wild' results.

And I only mill fresh flour for sourdough starters, where baking qualities don't matter at all, only nutritional value of flour, it is not for bread itself. Those who mill seek the best sources of grain. Basically it's the same for those millers that advertise their flour as bread flour or all purpose without absolutely any additives in it. They have their own suppliers of an adequate grain for it and they sing praises to their suppliers and to their strain of wheat. 

If they sell it and it sells, then there is a market for it. Surprisingly few people bake yeasted or sourdough bread at home. There are many more kinds of baking and cooking where such flour is used: muffins, pancakes and waffles, flat breads and soda breads that 2/3 of the World eats (Chinese, Indian etc.etc.etc).