Bottom line of good bread
Not every flour you can buy in the store is the same. And especially when it comes to baking bread the right flour or the combination of different types will determine the taste, structure, and also shelf life of the bread.
In this blog post, you will get a small introduction to wheat flour. To make it even more complicated, rye flour or spelt also come in different types. But for now, let’s stick to wheat flour.
What we are looking for in flour is the amount of protein and the amount of ash. The flour itself is made out of the endosperm (endosperm is a tissue produced inside the seeds) of wheat. Ash in terms of flour means the amount of mineral (non-organic parts) that the flour contains. If only the endosperm is used during the flour production the flour will be bright for example pastry flour. The more ash the flour contains the darker in color it will be in the end.
Gluten (a protein) is important for the structure of the dough, for wheat, these two proteins are Glutenin and Gliadin. During the kneading, resting, and ripening process these two are connected by adding water (the right amount is important) and creating a network, called the gluten network. This gluten network determines for example how elastic the dough will be and how much air the dough can hold. The more gluten you have in the dough the more bite, rise and elasticity are created.
And to make it even more complicated every country has its own names or "numbers" for different types of flour. In the graphic below I tried to make an overview that shows the most important wheat flour types and the different names they come with. As well as the ash and gluten percentage.
So the choice of the right type of wheat flour will determine the amount of gluten in your dough and in the end will have a positive influence on the structure of the bread. Now that you know so much about wheat flour you can make the right decision in order to achieve the desired baking result.
Tip: Too much kneading can be bad! Yes, gluten needs some activation for example by mechanical force to start building up the network. However, too much kneading weakens the gluten network. Therefore time (resting and ripening) is also important when making bread.
I would advidse to use a combination of high gluten flour and bread flour in a ratio of 1:1,5. If you wish to get a darker bread you can add whole rey flour. You can find an easy recipe for a farmers bread here.