I recently posted an interview with King Arthur flour and author, Jeffrey hamelman. After a night bake Jeffrey offered information and 30 years of experience speaking on a variety of bread issues.
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in addition to grahams insight..
In my experience, adding a weaker flour to a medium protein flour ( 11% protein) will decrease its breadmaking performance in most breadformulations including sourdough.
But the replacement of a moderate protein bread flour ( 12.5%) with all purpose flour of ( 10-10.5%) will greatly improve the texture of the bread. It has cleaner, bite and less chewiness. This is distinctive with Danish , puff , croissant pastries and many sweet doughs.
But as a sourdough is a different creature, it will profit more in terms of flavor by mixing in whole grain flour because than using plain flour; in the normal Australian breadmaking flour which has around 11.5% protein) . Besides the buffering effect of wholegrain flour is better for sourdough than the plain flour.
It depends on the characteristics of the soft flour you have access to. Soft flours are generally known for being "sweeter". In our bakery the aroma of soft flour was immediately noticeable when you entered the milling room.
Soft grain is literally softer and easier to mill, which means that (in the case of our stone mill) the resulting flour is less gritty, or sandy, than hard flour. That has benefits in forming gluten membranes because the grittyness of stoneground wholegrain flour has a tendency to interfere with formation of gluten membranes (roller mills 'flake' rather than grind, allowing fiber flakes to 'float' in membranes).
In our case, the harder stoneground wholegrain flour still created stronger doughs than soft flour, even though the hard was very gritty. Raw protein power, I suppose. But you can not beat a soft, sweet flour for aroma and taste. In comparison, breads made from hard flour taste more like pasta...cool and bland.
I have heard other bakers, including John Downs, talk about the dissapointment they encountered when tasting breads from countries where very strong wheat is used. The bread rises well but does not have the quality of taste of comparibly softer wheat bread.
But I do not know about any soft flours other than the flours we milled ourselves. It would be interesting to know how commercial milling processes and storage influence the 'sweetness' of soft flour.
Does everyday 'cake flour' retain enough sweetness to make it worthwhile mixing it with stronger flour? Does anyone know of a brilliant soft flour available straight off the store shelf?
In your case, adding soft will certainly reduce protein levels and I would guess would also reduce the bland flavour associated with hard wheats. It might not be that noticeable...please let us know what you find.
Graham, on the subject of softer flour is there any advantage in mixing some general purpose plain flour (approx 9% protein) with the 11.5% bakers flour I'm using at the moment?
Jeremy I do have a whole lot of stuff including some great recipes. However I don't feel that I can publish it until I am actually making bread again on a semi-professional basis. The formulas need re-testing and trialing over a number of weeks using currently available ingredients and techniques relevant to most people. e.g. All of our wholegrain wheat and rye was freshly stone milled on the premises. Our wheat was also a softer variety. The resulting flour would, I expect, behave very differently to most of the flours being used at home and even in most commercial environments, particularly in regards to hydration and mixing characteristics.
What I might do is at least put up some photos in the gallery, just so you can get a feel of what our original bakery was all about. Give me a few days and I will see what I can dig up...
Thanks for the plug Graham, of course I have been checking religiously all the wonderful information your posting and am so jealous that I can't be a part of that big baking scene in Oz! The crystal waters bakery was fascinating especially that they have no mixers, sort of a physical extreme but it's true that the baking process done completely by hand surely does effect and give a truer result to the ancient process! Looking forward to more great stuff!
When are you going to post stuff from your baking day's?
Hi Jeremy, Stirthepots has been on my bookmark list for some time now. Keep up the good work.
Thanks Bill! Pass the word!
I just had a listen to that interview and think it made very good listening. The term 'alchemist' has always appealed to me too. For those who haven't found Jeremy's site yet, click on Jeremy's WWW button above or go to:
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