Monday, May 30, 2011

Building Better Bread: The Grain

While many grains lend themselves to bread making, there is one that rises above the rest, wheat. This is because wheat contains more gluten protein than any other grain. It is gluten that gives bread structure, strength and texture. In the Untied States wheat flour is classified by the amount of gluten protein it contains.

Cake flour (6-7% gluten)
Pastry flour (7.5-9.5% gluten)
All-purpose flour (9.5-11.5% gluten)
Bread flour (11.5-13.5% gluten)

Wheat is classified as hard or soft, winter or spring, red or white. Soft wheat has less gluten and is used for pastries while hard wheat has the high gluten content need for baking good bread. Spring wheat generally has a higher protein content than winter wheat. White wheat is lighter in color and notably sweeter than red wheat.

When it comes to finding quality wheat for baking, find out what is available to you locally. With wheat farms all over the country, the eco-conscious baker needn't look far to find a source of locally grown wheat. You can search for a local source for wheat and many other items at Local Harvest


Paula said...

Great information. I wont become a wheat lover though. I do have some whole wheat flour at home yet the majority of my bread I make with spelt and buckwheat, plus seeds. I make my sour dough starter myself too. Wonder whether you have experience with rice or almond flour? Never have tried to add small portions to my bread. Hugs, Paula

Christy said...

I have tried rice flour but found it gave a heavy, gummy texture to the bread. I haven't ever used spelt but I hear it makes wonderful bread.