The Fresh Loaf

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Don't have high gluten flour. Can I just add vital wheat gluten instead?

hazimtug's picture

Don't have high gluten flour. Can I just add vital wheat gluten instead?

Have a quick question... I want to start baking more country style breads which usually call for high-gluten (high protein) flour. I am having difficulty finding such high protein flours here in Cyprus. The max is like 11.5%. Is it possible to add just vital wheat gluten to this lower protein flour to achieve an equivalent effect, i.e., enough structural strength to allow for nice/open crumb?

Thanks much!

Patf's picture

I am in France and french flour is also low in gluten, which produces the typical texture of french bread.
But because I originate from the UK I prefer bread made with strong flour. So I managed to buy some gluten and added it(I think 1tbsp to 1lb of flour) and it did produce a more supple and stretchy dough. But not the same feel as strong flour, nor quite the same crumb texture.
I now usually buy imported english or canadian flour.
It's worth a try - experiment.

subfuscpersona's picture

I don't know the strength of flour in Cyprus. It certainly is a challenge learning about flours from different geographic regions.

I do add 2 TBS vital wheat gluten per pound of bread flour (the brand I buy has about 12% protein) to get a stronger bread flour. I add vital wheat gluten to bread flour when I'm making doughs that have a high percentage of whole grain flour or if I am making multigrain loaves, since these doughs tend to produce a heavier bread.

Make sure to *sift* the flour combination thoroughly, to make sure the vital wheat gluten is evenly distributed. If you don't, ropy strands of dough can develop when you knead, and they're very rubbery and hard to distribute in the dough.

Increasing gluten in flour will not necessarily lead to open holes in the final product. It is usually the reverse - the crumb structure is denser with only small holes.

Using vital wheat gluten to increase flour strength is not the same as working with a flour milled from wheat that produces a strong flour naturally. However, if you can't get (or can't afford) the high protein bread flours, it does help.


fancypantalons's picture

An open crumb is far more a product of hydration level than gluten content.  I manage to get fairly open crumb with a standard AP flour, which has somewhere around 11-12% protein content.

As such, while it probably can't hurt to add a bit of gluten (although, be warned: too much can lend a bitter taste to the final product), my bet is that you won't see a big improvement in the outcome.  You're much better served switching to a higher hydration recipe, and ensuring you're fully developing the dough to the window pane stage.

hazimtug's picture

ALright- thanks everyone. Looks like I will just continue using the highest protein flour I can get around here and work with the recipes to get the best results...

Atropine's picture

Coming in late, but I do use wheat gluten and, for me, it did WONDERS for the crumb of my bread.  Seriously, the very first time i tried it, my bread actually looked like yeast bread with a nice..."spongy" look to it, instead of looking like a muffin inside--all crumbs and no gluten development.

Now, that having been said, higher hydration seems to be key for big holes.  However, I find that adding wheat gluten allows the dough to have the integrity to hold the bubbles.  I use wheat gluten WITH high protein flour, and I am pretty heavy handed with it.

But that is just my experience.

Janedo's picture

I'm in France and so my flour is about 11-12% depending. I have added 2 tbsp for 600g of flour and yes, I find it makes a difference. It's expensive, so I don't use it very often unless I'm trying a recipe or using techniques that need high gluten flour. It seems to do the trick.


ema2two's picture

I was about to post a similar question.

I see recipes that call for bread flour, high gluten bread flour and high gluten flour.  I find the terminology confusing.  Then I read that bread flour is higher gluten content than all-purpose flour, and that King Arthur bread flour is 13 or 14% protein, while their Sir Lancelot high gluten flour is 14 or 15% (eg slightly higher).  I can easily get the KA bread flour, in a store where the turnover seems high, so the flour is fresh, but I can't get the Sir Lancelot.  Since some recipes seem to specify the Sir Lancelot highest-gluten flout, I was wondering if I could get the same effect by adding some vital wheat gluten to the KA Bread flour?

JoeyD's picture
troglodyte's picture

I include vital wheat gluten in some of my rye bread recipes, so I keep it around. I store it in the freezer.

Normally I use local store-brand, low cost all-purpose (AP) flour and bread flour. I buy mostly the bread flour, which I bring home in 25 pound bags. Sometimes I buy the store's "high gluten" flour instead of the bread flour. I buy "First Street" flour, found at Smart and Final stores in California. See:

When bread flour became unavailable here during the initial phase of the pandemic, I made my own "bread flour" by adding 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten per cup of all-purpose flour. I found the ratio somewhere on the internet. It increased costs, but gave us something that worked well enough. About six months later, the bread flour shortage eased up.