When I first started making high-hydration loaves (75%+), they were disastrously flat. And since I was baking on a stone, I didn’t have the luxury of the sidewalls of a Dutch oven to save me. So I had to learn how to build structure into my dough.
And I learned all sorts of techniques, from proper folding to shaping method and even getting a better sense of how my dough was fermenting. And as a result, my loaf height seriously improved.
But I had run across some posts online where people had made beautiful high-hydration loaves and mentioned that they were using high-protein flour – almost to a person. And that got me thinking that if I could combine my development and shaping techniques with good, strong flour I could improve the structure of my loaves even more.
So I went on a quest for high-protein flour and that first led me to Azure Standard Unbleached Bread Flour Ultra-Unifine. This is my #1 flour, and I absolutely love it. At 14.7% protein, it develops plenty of strength and my loaf structure immediately improved as a result. But as a it is a high-extraction flour, it has a very grain-forward flavor profile. Mind you, it’s not a bad thing, but too much of a good thing can be bad as well. So I always cut it with a little King Arthur bread or AP flour.
But that kind of bugged me because I knew that was reducing the protein levels in my loaves. Look, they still came out great, but I’m the type of person that doesn’t just want to get the job done, I want it done right and with no compromises in quality.
It’s how I approach music and performance. For instance, when I first took on the role of musical director for the youth and young adult Mass at my church, the musicians initially balked at me requiring a two-hour rehearsal prior to service. But I explained to them that even though we were volunteers, that didn’t exempt us from providing a high-quality product that enhances the prayer experience. Mistakes and misalignment would only serve to detract from that. And after seeing the results of that kind of commitment, they got it. Now, twenty-five years later, we’re still going strong – a bunch of old farts rocking with God! 🙂
Sorry for going off on a tangent…
Anyway, I wanted to find a high-protein flour that had less of a grain-forward flavor. So after trying a few different ones, I ran across this wonderful flour from a small mill in Illinois called Janie’s Mill. They produce a high-protein flour from Glenn wheat, which is a hard spring wheat. And at 17% protein, it was sure to provide plenty of structure – even up the protein levels of my high-extraction flour!
The flour arrived about a week ago, and I’ve baked a few loaves with it. This is wonderful flour to with which to work. And the bread that I’ve made with it has a gorgeous, nutty flavor profile and the crumb is pleasingly chewy. Notice how dark the crumb is in the picture to the left. That actually surprised me because the flour is very light in color, as is the dough. But it browns with baking. VERY cool!
My next test will be to cut it with my high-extraction flour to see how that performs. I’ll probably start with a 50/50 blend, then go from there.
I’ve included the nutrition information card to the right. When I saw the 6g per serving size of 35g, I nearly flipped! Just on that number alone, I knew I had to try it. And now that I’ve baked with this flour a few times, it’s going to be a regular part of my flour blend.
Mind you, this flour is NOT cheap. Actually, it’s pretty expensive at $48 / 25lb bag. I bought two bags, plus a small bag of Red Fife flour and it set me back over $100. But it’s great flour, totally organic and GMO-free and most of all, it’s produced by a small, independent mill. I think it’s important to support the little guy.
For more information, go to the Janie’s Mill website.