Changed flour, poor results, don't know why


I've been baking a buckwheat sourdough for 6 months using KA special flour and 10% buckwheat.  

825g KA special

85g buckwheat

265g starter

500g water

16g salt.

mix 2 minutes, add salt and autolyse 15minutes, mix 2 minutes.  Proof twice, shape and refrigerate overnight.  Baked in a cast iron oval roasted at 450F 20 minutes covered, 20 minutes uncovered.  The results were good; tight crumb, good crust, perfect vehicle for mopping up sauces.

However, I developed an allergic reaction on my hands to the KA special which a professional bread baking friend suggested was the fungal amylase present in all (or most KA flours).  Very small kitchen space limited my flour allotment to one, which I could use for sweet and savory pastries and KA special seemed to fit the bill, save for the incediary itching on my fingers.

I got some Giusto's la Parisienne to substitute for the KA and after the same proceedure the loaf was flat and whitewashed.  Awful.  It looked fine after proofing in the refrigerator at the end of the night and in the morning looked like it had been sat on. I mixed 3 minutes rather than 2 and the crumb held a slightly better.

I tried a 50/50 KA/Giusto's and the results were a bit better.

Any suggestions, advice or answers as to why the results were so different? More kneading time or change in hydration?


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farinam's picture
farinam 2014 May 12

Hi BaronDapcher,

I don't have acces to those flours but a quick look suggests that the new flour is lower in protein (gluten) than the old one but still should be able to make perfectly acceptable bread.  You could try buying some gluten flour and dose the percentage up by a couple of percent and see if that has an effect.

How did the development of the dough with the new flour go?  Did you get to a good window stage?  You said that it looked like it had been sat on after retarding overnight in the fridge (I think that is how it reads).  This sounds a lot like over-proving, particularly with the pale crust after baking (once again I am assuming that is what you meant).  You mention proving twice before shaping and retarding.  How long was this?  Maybe that time could be shortened?  Remember that things don't stop during retardation they just slow down at the lower temperature.  Speaking of which, I suppose that your fridge is working OK.  Have you checked the internal temperature?

You didn't say what the hydration of your starter was but at 100% the recipe that you gave works out at around 60% hydration.  A lot of good recipes for white wheat flour generally run to at least 70% though I am not sure of the effect of buckwheat on dough handling characteristics.  Perhaps when you've sorted out the new flour you could consider trying higher hydration.  You could end up with a lighter more open crumb.

Hope this helps.  Good luck with your projects.


BaronDapcher 2014 May 13

My understanding, though somewhat limited, is that the bread flour has higher gluten (though KA special has higher protein than most AP –I use it for sturdy savory pastries).

I proof until doubled in size at around 85F (3 hours), fold, proof again until doubled, shape once, wait 5 minutes, shape again, wrap in linen couche and store in a walk-in refrigerator (34-38F).

With the same hydration the dough was rather wet.  I’m afraid 10% more hydration will give me an unworkable batter.  Perhaps longer kneading will develop more gluten, or I could add malt syrup since I am told that American flours don’t have malt in them –which might help with the browning.

For the starter I simply take out 265g of dough before adding the salt.

KA special on the left.  Giusto’s la Parisienne to the right. (provided you turn the screen to the right)


farinam's picture
farinam 2014 May 13

Hello again BaronDapcher

According to the company web pages, KA Special has a higher protein/gluten content that the La Parisienne.

On the basis that you are using reserved dough as your starter, that makes your hydration 55% which is remarkably low in my experience.

Flours do have different capacity to absorb water which will give some differences in texture at the same hydration but I have never struck anything that would result in a 'batter' at 70% hydration.  However, I can't argue with your assessment.  Just to give you an idea of my experience with a 70% hydration dough, have a look at this page .

Whilst you seem to be operating at the ideal sort of temperature for your proving, I think the time indicated 3hours (+ another 3? hours) before going into retardation (even more proof time) could very easily result in over proving.  I would consider shaping after the first prove and then go into the fridge (assuming that you have done your dough development in a short time before starting the first proof).  Not a lot to lose in the scheme of things if you are unhappy with your current results.

Good luck with your projects.


shasta's picture
shasta 2014 May 13


Since you have been usng KA flour, I'm assuming you are in the U.S.I also use KA flour but use KA berad flour. It has the same protein levels as the Special has, 12.7.If you can get some you may want to try Pendelton Flour Mills flours. The two that are comparable to KA flours are Morflour & Power Flour.Morflour has a rating of 12 while the Power is rated as 13.5.I have used both and they act much like the KA flours. I have picked up the flour here in California at Cash & Carry stores. The only problem is that you can only get them in 25 & 50 lb bags. The plus side is that its much cheaper than KA flour. The link below is to a PDF file on all PFM flours. Good Luck!

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