I was able to obtain a 50lb bag of Power-High Gluten Flour from Pendleton Mills. Before I came to Hawaii, one of my favorite bread flours to use was the Pendleton Mills Morbread flour. I will have to say that from my experience, Pendleton Mills mills some fantastic flour! However, when I first tried using the Power flour with my formula for testing flours- (see former flour testing posts) I couldn’t use the formula because the gluten amount was so high, it sucked up the water. Remember that the highter the gluten, the more it absorbs water. This flour is rated around 14% protein content, when many bread flours are from 10 – 12%
The first loaves I tried to bake with this flour were disappointing! I had to totally reshift my gears. I know some of the tricks for working with high gluten flours, but I just wasn’t thinking! I did add more water to the dough. I was still using the testing formula but I added additional water until the dought felt right. However, the timing was wrong. The loaves came out small, dense, somewhat tough and you could even see the strands of tough gluten on the baked loaf:
The crumb was dense and tight:
This was after a full final proof of three hours!
So the next loaves I began to bulk proof longer and I made up the new formula with the higher hydration. I mixed the dough and let it set out for six hours even though the temperatures were in the 70 – 80’s. Then I put the dough into the refrigerator overnight. Next morning I allowed the dough to warm up for two hours and then I shaped and allowed the dough to proof for another three hours. The loaves were looking better but I could tell the crust was still a bit tough and the sour was still lacking. You can still see the strands of strong gluten on the outside of the loaf. Here are the second batch loaves:
The crumb was a bit more open than the first batch:
So back to the drawing board. Two batches of somewhat tight dough that didn’t like expanding. Wow! I could do a lot with that! Just think of the punishment this kind of dough can have! Lots of fermentation time, lots of proofing, lots of sour! This is really fun kind of experimenting. I took the next batch and added .3 oz of diastatic malt powder because I felt the finished crusts were getting a bit whitish as I took longer to ferment the dough. That happens because the sugars are all eaten up by the time you are ready to bake the bread. I also felt that the diastatic malt would help to break down the gluten a bit while adding a sugar boost to the dough. So for batch three I did an autolyse for one whole hour before adding the salt. Then I did a bulk ferment for six hours and refrigerated the dough for two more days! Here are the results:
Close up of the Crust:
The oven spring on these loaves was terrific as you can see and the crumb was nice and open, it was also very sour. There was a noticeable lack of blisters as well, which I wasn’t sure about.
For this formula, I had been taking the dough left over from the former batches to use as the starter for the next batch, this is called “old dough”. After batch #3 was done, I took the leftover dough and put it into the refrigerator as usual. Then two days later instead of using it to make up a new batch of dough, I shaped it, proofed it and baked it. It was a bit on the small side because it was only one pound 4 oz , but it was soooooooooo good! The crust was wonderful and the taste was super out of this world sour. My husband said it was the best loaf he ever remembered eating (he does say that from time to time though Think of how long it had been proofed and refrigerated when you remember what batch # 3 had been through:
I am certainly not done experimenting with this fun flour. Can you imagine that I haven’t even tried to bake up some bagels or pizza with it yet? I bet Peter Reinhart would like to try this flour for his wonderful pizzas if he hasn’t already. The flour is soft as silk and dough made from it is very strong and stretchy and can take a lot of abuse.
Because of the water absorption problem, I had to come up with another formula for this high gluten flour and on paper it is 67.6% hydration, but real feel, it feels like 60% hydration. It is actually easy to handle and you don’t even need any flour on the work surface when shaping.
Here is the formula I used to make up this dough with, don’t hestitate to experiment with the timing. Remember this formula is for very high gluten flour, it won’t work very well with a regular bread flour because the resulting dough would be too wet.
High Gluten Flour Formula for Sourdough Bread
- Water – 1 lb 12 oz / 793.8g
- High Gluten Flour (Pendleton Power flour) – 2 lb 9.4 oz/1173g.7
- Old dough at 67.6% hydration- 1 lb 4 oz (already contains salt)-/567g
- Diastatic Malt-.3oz/ 8.5g
- Salt- 1 oz/28.4g
This is the basic formula, as you can see from above, I varied the timing. A generic timing to start with might look like this:
- Mix all ingredients together except salt and then allow the dough to autolyse for one hour.
- Add salt and knead the salt in for about 3 minutes by hand (I don’t have a mixer in Hawaii!)
- Allow the dough to bulk ferment for 4 – 6 hours – folding the dough once each hour.
- Refrigerate dough (covered) overnight or over two nights.
- Take dough out of the refrigerator and warm up for an hour or two.
- Shape dough into loaves at 2 lbs each.
- Proof for two to three hours. (As the dough gets more sour, it takes longer and longer to final proof)
- Bake as usual using roasting pan method of steaming (450 degrees for 20 minutes with roasting lid, then remove lid and bake at 425 for 10 – 15 minutes more (see video on my site: http://www.northwestsourdough.com/videos.html).
If you follow this formula and make two -2lb loaves of bread, you should have 1 lb 4 oz of dough to put back into the refrigerator for the next batch (there is a few oz of extra for dough left in bowls and on spoons etc). I used San Francisco Starter, Power Flour, catchment water (rain), diastatic malt and non-idodized salt.
This was very fun experimenting. I am pretty sure that the San Francisco Bakeries use this flour, or one just like it. Normal Bread flour doesn’t come close to the amount of fermenting abuse that this flour can take. I hope you can obtain some hight gluten flour to work with and experiment with. Go to your local bakery and just ask if they have a bag you can buy. That is how I got my Power flour, at a nice little bakery in Hilo. I will be submitting this post to Yeastspotting, where you can always find Susan having fun baking bread.
This flour rates really high with me, especially if you know how to use it. See if you can beg, borrow or ….well… buy some of this flour: