Ingredient Insight – Flour

Ingredient Insight – Flour

 

Do you know your Gluten?

 

Flour

Following on last week’s theme of pivotal ingredients, this week we wanted to discuss flour, another very common ingredient worthy of attention. Also, in the spirit of last week, we wanted to pick a specific flour metric to compare across brands and types, which we decided will be protein. The main protein in flour is gluten, the key behind bread’s iconic elasticity and structure. While flour nutrition labels often don’t report anything about gluten levels explicitly, they do report protein, which we will take as a proxy for its gluten level.

First, let’s start by breaking down the % protein one should see between different flour types, regardless of brand. These are loose cut points echoed by flour companies, baking experts, and other food blogs.

Flour Type Protein %
Cake 5 – 8
Pastry 8 – 9
Self-rising 9 – 11
All-purpose 10 – 12
Bread 12 – 13
Whole-wheat 14
High gluten 14 – 15

 

With those cut points in mind, let us now look at the flours themselves across a few major brands to see how their types stack up against each other and the accepted thresholds above. Precision complicates comparison without reaching out to flour companies directly, but below are some standardized estimates from the major brands:

Brand Type Protein

(per 30g)

% Protein
Gold Medal All-purpose 3g 10.0%
Gold Medal Bread 3g 10.0%
Gold Medal Self-rising 3g 10.0%
Gold Medal Whole-wheat 4g 13.0%
King Arthur All-purpose 3.5g 11.7%
King Arthur Bread 3.8g 12.7%
King Arthur Self-rising 3g 10.0%
King Arthur Whole-wheat 4.1g 13.8%
Pillsbury All-purpose 2.9g 9.7%
Pillsbury Bread 3.9g 12.9%
Pillsbury Self-rising 1.9g 6.5%
Bob’s Red Mill All-purpose 3.5g 11.8%
Bob’s Red Mill Bread 4.2g 13.9%
Bob’s Red Mill Pastry 2.6g 8.8%
Bob’s Red Mill Whole-wheat 5.5g 18.0%

*On nutrition labels which round to the nearest gram, protein % estimates can fluctuate by ± 1.6%

 

The main reason to care comes down to the use case of the flour. Breaking it down by brand hopefully makes it clear that the brand you use can also make an impact, even for the same flour type. Using the brand that delivers the right flavor with the right amount of gluten development you are going for can augment any of your dishes. For example, a lighter whole-wheat from Gold Medal would yield a less “bready” loaf vs the very high protein percentage found in Bob’s Red Mill. Likewise, with bread flour, Gold Medal will deliver a lighter bread than any of the other brands.

How much gluten development do you want on the bread? How can the flour type and brand influence that goal of the flour? Hopefully, this serves as a starting point for answering those questions.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *