Flour in Sourdough Bread

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Flour



photo Flour and wheat


When the word flour is used on its own it refers to wheat flour, this is the major bread ingredient, its spirit, so it is worth searching for the best available flour.
The miller is the expert he will select grains and process them according to the quality of flour required. There are more than hundred varities of wheat some are classified as soft and other as hard. Hard wheat contains more proteine(Gluten). Wheat grain facts.  

There are three basic flour types:
Wholemeal - 100% extraction, made from the whole wheatgrain with nothing added or taken away.
Brown - usually contains about 85% of the original grain, some bran and germ have been removed.
White - 75% of the wheatgrain. Most of the bran and wheatgerm have been removed during milling

Flour differences:
Stoneground versus Rollermills, Organic and non organic
- Stoneground flour is ground in a traditional way between two stones it is the best choice but more difficult to find.
Organic - Flour milled from grain that has been grown to organic standards. Growers and millers must be registered and are subject to regular inspections.

Choice criteria
Brown flour is the best compromise, you can use it for bread and cakes, its dough rises well and it is easier on the intestine than wholemeal.
Stoneground is a must as it doesn’ t dammage the flour specially whith hard wheat. Organic is the only option not just because it is free of chimicals but also because the organic growing process is respectful of nature.

Understanding your flour:
Extraction rate - Percentage of flour extracted from a given amount of grain. If 75 Kg of flour is obtained from 100 Kg of wheat the extraction rate is 75 %, in other words 25 Kg of bran, germ and flour attached to germ and bran has been eliminated during the sifting process. This example correspond to what hapens to white flour.
Ash content - This test done by the mill lab consist of puting 5 g of flour into a quartz dish and leaving it one hour in a 900°C oven. The ashes left in the dish are composed of the mineral components of the flour as those require between 1400 and 1500°C to burn. Because mineral matters come mainly from the bran and the germ there is a close relation between extraction rate and ash content.
Colour - The whiter the flour the smaller the ash content and the lowest the extraction rate is.
Odour - Flour can absorb smell very quickly so checking it is important you do not want your bread to smell petrol or diesel l! Note that perfume can be as bad when backing.
Age - This is important specially with wholemeal or brown flour as they contain part of the germ which is oily and therefore will oxydise and make the flour acid with a rancid test In good conservation conditions White flour would keep for three to 5 months while wholemeal and brown should not be kept more than two to three months. The milling date should be on the flour label to calculate the flour age remembering that too fraich flour (less than 8 days) can be difficult to work.
Gluten - A flour is suitable for breadmaking when it contains gluten, this protein is responsible for keeping the gas bubbles created by fermentation inside the dough this explains while the dough rises. The gluten is composed of two proteins Glutenin and Gliadin the first one has elastic properties while the second one has extensibility properties. It is gluten quality more than quantity which is important, strong flour has good quality gluten. More obout testing gluten soon.... but there is a quick test to evaluate the strength of flour, just pick some flour in your hand and squize it hard, open your hand, a soft ball holding together is sign of soft flour while if it crumbles back to powder it means strong flour!
Density - A liter of flour is 528g when sifted otherwise it could be up to 50% more.This is another reason why it is important to work by weight and not volume.
All flour density are not equivalent, wholemeal is 507g per liter and rye only 430 g.

 

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