Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Author Topic: Flour strength (W)  (Read 8698 times)

Offline lello

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
Flour strength (W)
« on: June 17, 2010, 05:52:34 AM »
As all of you know, flour is characterized by a certain strength, a parameter referred to as W.
This parameter, together with the P/L ratio, provide a description of the gluten network formed by certain flour (of course that depends also on mixing...).

I was reading some Italian book on baking, and the author always specifies the ranges of W and P/L to be used for a certain recipe.  Some bloggers in Italy also specify the W for a certain recipe.
On the other hand Hamelman just speak about "bread flour", while in Italy there is nothing like this.

Unfortunately, this numbers are not available (normally) for commercial flours, whereas professional flours always report both W and P/L (or at least W).

Now, since we use different flours, our products will inevitably very different.
To understand some these difference and also errors of our baking process, I'd like to check the type of flours that people in this group is using.
Does any of you know W and P/L for his/her flours?
For example, what value of W and P/L has the KA bread flour? (which I think is quite popular in US).

In my case, I'm Italian but I currently work in Germany, I don't know how to get this parameters.
I buy the flour from a local mill, but  they don't provide such numbers.

Lello
« Last Edit: June 17, 2010, 03:15:28 PM by lello »

Offline Steve

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 378
    • burntloafer's blog
Re: Flour strength (W)
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2010, 08:21:30 AM »
'As all of us know?'   :o

I have never heard of this before.  Sorry!  I am a little more new to this stuff, I guess...

Offline Paul

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 733
  • Baking tons... but at work.
    • Yumarama Bread Blog
Re: Flour strength (W)
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2010, 08:33:57 AM »
I'm thinking this flour strength information is more specific to European flours, where it's actually available. Here in Canada, there's no such thing.

Our choices at any grocery store are simply:
1) All purpose flour
2) Bread flour
3) Cake and Pastry flour
4) Other specialty types like rye, ww, durhum, etc. Only in the "organic" section will you find oddities like buckwheat, etc. in tiny, expensive bags.

The only "extra" info you get is the Nutritional label which will show the protein content and give you a clue on gluten amounts. Even at that, it's often based on a 30g 'per serving' sample so it's a rough calculation to extrapolate a real percentage because they note the protein in whole grams, like 3g or 4g, so whether that were to actually be 3.1g or 3.9g (difference between 11% and 13% protein) it's impossible to say.

Our bread and all purpose flours, if you get both types from the same company, are usually noted at the same protein levels, the difference is that conditioners are added to the bread flour. It's near impossible to get unbleached bread flour at a grocery store.

We're planning on moving out west shortly where I believe the retail choices are a little greater so we'll see what's available there. But it's not likely there'll be any more info available on the flour strengths.
Paul
Yumarama Blog

I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.

Offline Zeb

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 755
    • Zeb Bakes
Re: Flour strength (W)
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2010, 04:59:38 PM »
Sorry never heard of W and P before either  :hmm: 

Typically we get here in the UK

Plain flour (9-10g protein per 100g) recommended to be used for pastry, cakes, sauces
Strong flour and very strong flour - protein per 100 g varies between 10 and 15)  Edited to say : and the very strong flour is usually based on Canadian flour which we import in huge quantities.

We don't have an equivalent of AP flour, we definitely don't have American cake flour which has much lower protein levels and I believe is bleached?  Bleached flour is forbidden in the UK.
This is  a real issue for cake makers who want to use American cake recipes and there are various work arounds involving microwaving flour and/or subbing cornstarch (cornflour) for part of the flour.

You can also get in most of the big supermarkets

Wholemeal, plain and strong
Most sell a rye flour these days, though not a lot of choice
Flour blends or mixes, like Dove's barleycorn or a ciabatta mix, etc
Upmarket supermarkets sell spelt, oak smoked something or other, etc etc
Some even sell organic italian 00 and french mixes for making profiteroles

You can get hold of info re falling numbers and ash content if you contact the big suppliers, and the smaller mills who supply the artisan and organic bakers will probably be able to help with this.



« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 02:45:41 PM by Zeb »
Joanna @ Zeb Bakes

Offline ap269

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 318
    • Family & Food
Re: Flour strength (W)
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2010, 01:41:01 AM »
I had to laugh about the sentence "As all of you know..." - I've never heard of P or W or L.... Germans specify their flour by the ash mass (mineral content). You can find more information on that here. When a recipe calls for AP flour I usually take a 550 type flour. When it calls for bread flour, I usually take a 812 type or 1050 type. When the recipe mentions something like high-gluten flour I always add vital wheat gluten to the flour I'm using...
Andrea (ap269)

Family & Food

Offline lello

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
Re: Flour strength (W)
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2010, 02:58:19 PM »
...guys...you should really go to the end of the book and read some theory ;)

Andrea, unfortunately German classification of flour as well as Italian or French, is very loosely related to the protein content which is most important. In Germany the classification is made according to the mineral  content, in Italy it depends on the amount of ashes.

Bread flour for me in Germany means 550, 1050 has too much bran for my taste.
 
This is just an example of a professional product for bakes in Italy:

http://www.flour.it/0-Ciabatta-Celeste-Flour.htm

as you can see W, P/L and protein content are clearly specified.
These kind of products are not so easy to find, mainly because you must buy at least 50 Kg...but many amateur bakers use them.


Offline ackernackt

  • On Board
  • *
  • Posts: 17
Re: Flour strength (W)
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2010, 10:44:50 PM »
I currently use a General Mills brand flour called All Trumps for most of my breads.  You can see the specs at: http://www.gmflour.com/gmflour/flour.aspx?type=WBread#50143w.

Offline Paul

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 733
  • Baking tons... but at work.
    • Yumarama Bread Blog
Re: Flour strength (W)
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2010, 05:53:09 AM »
Now that's a detailed spec sheet! :clap:
Paul
Yumarama Blog

I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.

Offline blue

  • On Board
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: Flour strength (W)
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2010, 06:20:56 AM »
It is indeed a detailed spec sheet!

The amazing thing is that if I'd read that sheet two months ago, it would just have been so much gobbledygook. Whereas now it's like gold. Thank you Mr. Hamelman   :clap:
blue

Offline lello

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
Re: Flour strength (W)
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2010, 06:26:12 AM »
Indeed, quite detailed. However, I am surprised that neither W nor P/L are not reported, but only the falling number.

Offline Zeb

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 755
    • Zeb Bakes
Re: Flour strength (W)
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2010, 06:46:04 AM »
I've been back to the end of the book, the appendix in fact, p 370 onwards, presume this is what you are talking about Lello?  ;) All I can say, is I read it once, when I read the book cover to cover, a couple of years ago, but didn't really take it in.  never seen these mentioned on the back of a retail flour bag. It is undoubtedly vital information if you are looking for day in day out consistency in your bread, as you would if you are baking commercially, however this information is not readily available to the home baker.  Next time I go to Shipton Mill I will ask them, and see what they say. I have seen the testing equipment there drawing out graphs, but they don't volunteer that data on their website to the general public.   JH concludes though at the end of that section on the Alveograph on p 372 that 'the baker's hands are the final arbiters of the dough... and ultimately we must determine flour quality by evaluating the actual products of any particular flour'.  I have learnt more from hand mixing than I would ever have done from mixing in a machine, where you are at one remove from the basic experience. But we all travel differently, that's one thing I have learnt and am still learning.
Joanna @ Zeb Bakes

Offline lello

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
Re: Flour strength (W)
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2010, 06:59:40 AM »
Joanna I agree with you, baker's hands are the final arbiter, but some knowledge of flour type helps ;). My guess is that knowing flour characteristics allow you to adjust a recipe much more easily.
But you are right, this information is not available for retail flour, you should directly ask the mill where the flour is produced.

Offline Karin

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 55
    • Karin´s kitchen
Re: Flour strength (W)
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2010, 05:29:57 AM »
I found a flour today that says 480 What does that mean?

Offline lello

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
Re: Flour strength (W)
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2010, 01:35:33 AM »
I found a flour today that says 480 What does that mean?

480?...sounds a bit too high, I doubt it is the value of W. The highest value of W I am aware of
if around 500, but those type of flour are only meant to be mixed with others.
Where do you live? that number might just be the type of flour and has probably nothing to do with its strength.

Offline Karin

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 55
    • Karin´s kitchen
Re: Flour strength (W)
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2010, 02:00:51 PM »
I live in Sweden but I saw this flour in an "arabian" grocery store and the language of the package was in german