Tuesday, June 5, 2012

King Arthur Flour Blog & Bake 2012 - Part 3

I was honored to have been invited to King Arthur Flour's Blog & Bake this year.  This is part 3 in my series of posts about it.  Don't miss Part 1 and Part 2!

After we had our basic bread making class, we had a lesson on different types of flour.

As a demonstration, our teacher, Susan Reed, showed us two loaves of basic white bread.  One loaf was made with King Arthur Flour All-Purpose Flour, and the other was made with "Budget Brand" all-purpose flour.
Can you see the difference?  The bread made with King Arthur had a nicer color, as well as just having a better texture.
We learned that King Arthur Flour holds their flours to a higher standard than other brands do.  Most "Budget brands" allow up to 2% variation of the protein in their flours.  King Arthur allows only a 0.2% variation.   Because protein content is so very important to how your flour behaves, this is a big deal.  If you are making a recipe with King Arthur Flour, it should always work out the same way.  You can't count on that kind of consistency from other brands.  Most "budget brands" of all-purpose flour aim for 10.5% protein.  King Arthur's all-purpose flour has 11.7%.

Anatomy of wheat
Red wheat berries versus white wheat berries
Did you know that there are different kinds of wheat?  We learned about white versus red wheat, and also learned a little about winter wheat versus spring wheat, and we learned that different kinds of flour have different protein contents.  Also, Susan taught us that the "bitter" taste that some people dislike in whole wheat flour is caused by phenolic acid, and we also learned that whole wheat flour can go rancid more quickly than other flours.  The safest place to store your flour long term is in the freezer.

I think you can tell which flour is bleached...

We did a flour test with the King Arthur Flour all-purpose flour versus the store brand all-purpose flour.  The difference was very noticeable.  It's a simple test that you could do yourself.  Simply mix 4 oz (by weight) of flour with 4 oz (by weight) of water.  Mix them together and notice how different they are.
Left to right: Budget brand all purpose, KAF all-purpose, KAF high protein Sir Lancelot flour, KAF Premium whole wheat
Susan also let us play with some doughs made out of different flours.  We got to feel how differently they all felt, and we learned how to try "window-paning" with the dough.  By stretching the dough out as thinly as you can (gently), you can tell a lot about the dough.  The doughs we played with were rested overnight, so even the whole wheat flour formed a good window pane.  Normally, this would be tough to do with whole wheat flour.

Susan also had muffins made from the same exact recipe with different flours.  This demonstrated the reasons for modifying recipes according to what flour you are using.  There was a wild variation in the muffins.

This one was my favorite..

The gluten free one tasted like sand.  Adaptations would be necessary to make this anything I'd want to eat.  (Luckily, KAF has some great recipes made for their gluten-free flour blend!)

One thing that we learned was that King Arthur Flour does make one flour that is bleached - the Queen Guinevere Cake flour.  The reason for this is that bleaching breaks down starches and proteins, and because of this, cakes made with this flour will have a slightly higher rise.

King Arthur Flour also makes some European flours, which are classified according to ash content, indicating the degree of milling.  This difference in flours is a reason that recipes you may have from Europe might come out differently than expected with standard American flours.  You learn something new every day, especially at King Arthur!


After our flour education, we had a truly amazing opportunity... check that out in the upcoming Part 4!

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1 comment:

  1. Very interesting stuff! I like that they teach you all the intimate details of how it's processed and the differences in baking. So glad you get to do this!