The Fresh Loaf

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Simple flour protein test

Flash Jack's picture
Flash Jack

Simple flour protein test

Apologies if this has been asked before. I couldn’t begin to think of the right terms to search for a previous discussion.

I’ve been experimenting with a few different flours, which I store in identical containers.

I have had a momentary lapse in my usually pretty good labelling.

I have two containers, one of which I am very sure has a high-protein white flour (unknown but ~12+%). And another container that could have AP, in which case I expect it’s 10–11% protein. (Or it might be a 00, in which case the protein could be 9–11ish.)

Is there a way to test what’s what? To distinguish between high and low?

It’s not a great quantity and, at worst, I’m prepared to toss it -- or use it for something that is oblivious to protein: keep it for batters maybe. Or use it as bench flour. Or bake with it and be prepared for failure (although a focaccia would come out good enough).

But I’m intrigued whether there is any simple test that can distinguish between a known high-protein flour and another less strong flour.

Something that involves adding 50g flour to 30g water and seeing which makes a more rubbery ball?

It’s a challenge, people.

No mass spectrometers allowed. No gas chromatography.

(And to make me feel better, please say that failure to label is something we’ve all done).



phaz's picture

The differences are little enough to not worry about. Just use it as per recipe. To fix the labeling lapse - don't label anything! Enjoy!

Flash Jack's picture
Flash Jack

Thank you phaz.

This is a completely correct answer. I like embracing negligence and, yes, the differences are small.

But points off for not embracing the physics.





mariana's picture

Jack, I am sorry, but there is no way to determine flour protein content at home.

You can determine its gluten content, but it doesn't relate to protein content reliably. There are flours with 10-11% protein that would make more gluten and flours with 12+% protein that would make less gluten when moistened. Especially, if flours are from different regions of the world, as in your case (I assume that your 00 is from Italy).

You can also do a small baking test, from a tiny amount of flour with a tiny amount of yeast to see how it behaves in mixing (which one absorbs more water to give you bread dough consistency) and in baking. But again, it would at most determine the purpose of flour, not so much its protein content. In Canada we have both cake&pastry flour with 12% protein and bread flour with 10% protein on our store shelves, protein on its own tells you nothing. 

In your case, since it's leftovers of both batches, I would simply blend those two flours and use it in baking as a universal blend. It would become a batch of truly all-purpose flour with an average content of about 10.5-11.5% protein and good gluten, good for everything, breads, pizzas, sauces, etc. 

Flash Jack's picture
Flash Jack


Thank you. And points well taken.

My very own master mix AP. Great idea.


chefcdp's picture

Since high protein flour will normally absorb more water than a lower protein flour, mix equal weights of water and lour from each flour. The mix that is thickest will almost certainly be made with the higher protein flour. I got that info from a KA class.


Flash Jack's picture
Flash Jack


I like your style. You get extra points for proposing the simplest test.

Bless you.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Into a hot frying pan to make a thin little pancake of each, the tougher pancake will have the most gluten. 

Flash Jack's picture
Flash Jack

Thank you Mini for this idea.