How to choose your wheat flour
I would like to let you know how to choose your wheat flour. In the last experiment on cheesecake I didn’t show you how I used wheat flour to make the pastry because I stumbled upon an interesting problem and wanted to write a separate article for it. I was experimenting with biscuits and pastry during the long holidays, while suffering from writer’s block when I noticed that my pastry was frying in the oven. It was more of a fry baking then a baking.
Can you see that a lot of oil (melted butter) has leaked out of the biscuits and it looks like that the biscuits are frying? Why on earth would the butter leak out of the pastry? That got me thinking. If you had read some of my early articles on bread I had noticed that some wheat flours could be mixed with 100% water and still form a round ball of dough where as others became like a think batter. I had called them Brand A and Brand X flour and had noticed that the water absorbency was not there for the Brand X flour. Furthermore the Brand X flour was much cheaper than the Brand A flour.
Testing wheat flour for water absorbency
Brand A flour having high water absorbency. Mix equal weight of water to wheat flour and stir with a spoon. High absorbency wheat flour will form a ball. You can see how dry it is as all the water has been absorbed into the flour.
Brand X flour having low water absorbency. Mix equal weight of water to wheat flour and stir with a spoon. Low absorbency wheat flour will form a thick batter.
Testing wheat flour for moisture content
I had checked for moisture content to see if the cheaper brand of flour had a higher water or moisture content and found out that they both had 3% moisture content.
Test for moisture content: two samples of wheat flour before microwaving.
Test for moisture content: two samples of wheat flour after microwaving.
The test of moisture content indicates that there is not substantial difference in the water content of both types of flour and hence moisture content does not determine the absorbency of the wheat flour.
Why is it important for us to know the absorbency of the flour?
It is important as it will determine how much water can be added before it becomes a thick batter. It will determine whether the dough can be easily shaped. It will determine how much butter, oils or fats that can be loaded into dough without frying in the oven. Frying can be a safety hazard if there are leaks in the tray and the butter escaping from the pastry or biscuit drops into the fire.
Wheat flour should be labelled for absorbency?
I would like to see all wheat flour packets sold, labelled for the percentage for water it can absorb. They could be labelled as 100% absorbency, 90% or 80%,… to indicate how much water a sample of flour will absorb by weight and still form a ball of dough without breaking down into a batter. A label like that will allow us to quickly adjust our recipes water content to get consistent results no matter what flour we use.
This article “How to choose your wheat flour” was researched and written by Peter Achutha.