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Flour, Protein, Gluten

14 Sep

Some typical flours and their protein percentages:

  • Cake or pastry flour: 8-9%
  • Generic all-purpose flour: 10.3%?
  • King Arthur all-purpose flour: 11.7%
  • Generic bread flour: 11.7%?
  • King Arthur bread flour:  12.7%
  • King Arthur whole wheat flour: 14% <– though I believe the protein / gluten relationship in whole wheat is different, because some of this protein is in the bran yet not available to promote gluten formation.
  • King Arthur Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour: 14.2%
  • Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten: 75%
Why am I posting this? Mainly because I’m about to post a bagel recipe, and having a high-protein flour really does matter for them.
I’ve tried making the same bagel recipe with:
  1. All-purpose flour (a terrible, soft result)
  2. King Arthur bread flour (decent bagels, a few friends liked them best in a blind taste test, though I preferred the slightly higher-protein flours)
  3. Sir Lancelot high gluten flour (great result, but you have to mail order the flour)
  4. A mix of 1 tsp vital wheat gluten in every 1 cup King Arthur bread flour (should also be about 14% protein, and also gives a great result, and you don’t have to special-order the flour).
  5. 2 tsp vital wheat gluten to every cup of all-purpose flour, which should also be about 14% protein. This has also worked well for bagels though not as consistently well as #3 (perhaps more careful sifting together is needed, or the % protein was lower than expected in this flour).
If you really want to geek out on it, here’s an online protein % calculator, which helps you figure out how to mix several flours or flour and wheat gluten to get a specific desired protein %. If you care that much about precision, you should probably weigh flour instead of measuring it, but I rarely have the patience (a sin among bakers, I know).

BBQ Bagels?!

8 Sep

I’ve made bagels 7 or 8 times at this point, and thought I’d settled on a recipe I liked… but cooking in a new kitchen always throws a few wrenches in the works. In this case, the oven in a vacation home rented with friends didn’t seem to want to go above 350F, while I wanted 450F… so I baked some bagels in the oven, but cooked most of them on a gas BBQ grill on the outside deck. To my surprise, that worked pretty well.

Here are a few quick & blurry photos– I’ll post my favorite recipe and variants I’ve tried some day in the future.

Making the dough (just high-gluten flour, salt, barley malt syrup, yeast, and water) the night before, and a precariously-located laptop I’d written down the recipe in:

(p.s. don’t judge me for the Bud Light Lime in the background… we also had  a 16-beer set of the Mikkeller Single Hop Series, three beers brewed with coffee, and eight different kinds of canned craft beer):

The kneaded, rolled, and formed bagels:

After rising in the fridge (important!) for about 14 hours:

Boiling for just 30 seconds in water (with a little barley malt syrup in it):

On foil on the top rack of a grill (cooked for about 20 minutes with the grill closed, fiddling with the gas as the temperature according to the low-resolution grill dial thermometer ranged between 400 and 600F):

Checking the crumb and texture of a bagel — moderately chewy success! Though a bit undercooked or cooked too far from the heat– no golden-brown crust.

Eating with all the fixings (cream cheese, lox, local smoked trout and salmon, tomato, red onion, and capers… with hummus as another option since it was lunchtime):

White Sandwich Bread

4 Aug

This is great sliced thick and used to make a sandwich or luxurious toast (but with soup, I prefer whole wheat bread). I used to make this monthly but haven’t in many years– I just found the recipe card recently.

White sandwich bread (two loaves, takes 4-5 hours total including cooling)

Mix and let stand 5-10 minutes:

  • 4 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
Meanwhile, mix:
  • 1 cup warmed milk
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp salt
Combine the two mixtures. Gradually add:
  • 5 cups white flour (or a bit less)
Knead for 10 minutes (set a timer… I find it’s always longer than I think)
Lightly oil the dough, put it in a bowl, let rise 1 to 1.5 hours until doubled.
Punch down, let it rise again (about an hour). <– I’m not sure how necessary this step is, but haven’t tried to omit it
Divide the dough in half, punch down again, put in greased loaf pans.
Let rise (loosely covered) yet again until doubled, about an hour.
Bake in a 450 oven for 10min, then reduce to 350 for 30min.
The bread should sound hollow when tapped.
Let fully cool on a rack.

Maple-Pecan Scones

25 Jul

Scones are one of the only things I’ve made where I’ve tried (and kept track of) many changes to a recipe over time and gradually evolved it. Here’s my current favorite version:

Maple-Pecan Scones (makes 16)

First, preheat the oven to 425 (don’t you hate recipes that don’t tell you to preheat the oven until late in the recipe?)

You’ll need:

  • 2 & 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I’ve tried more– this is about as much as I can fit in)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups chopped pecans (for even better scones, chop half of these pecans coarsely, and grind the other half into a powder, almost a “pecan flour”, in a food processor).
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 11(!) Tbsp cold butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (plus a little extra to brush on) (real maple syrup, of course)
  • A cast iron skillet
The process:
  1. Combine the flour, pecans, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender, keeping it coarse! (pea-sized bits, don’t overdo it). I usually cut sticks of butter into 1 Tbsp squares with a knife first, then cut in those squares.
  3. Add the milk and maple syrup.
  4. Mix lightly, turn out onto a floured counter, and gently knead together, just to make it stick together.
  5. Add a bit of milk or flour if needed to have a sticky, slightly crumbling dough.
  6. Divide the dough in half (you can refrigerate half if you only want to make 8 scones now).
  7. Squeeze each half into a ball, then roll into a thick (maybe 3/4″ thick? I’ll have to measure it next time) 7″ diameter circle, and then cut into 8 wedges
  8. Put these wedges into a greased cast iron skillet.
  9. Brush the tops with maple syrup.
  10. For extra credit, put a half pecan on top of each scone.
  11. Bake at 425 for about 18 minutes (they should start to brown, your oven may vary, mine may be a bit on the cool side).