A bowl of flour.

Flour is an ingredient that impacts many aspects of baked goods.

I recently had the chance to dive into one of the pillars of baking ingredients: flour. BAKERpedia Academy hosted “The Science of Wheat Flour Workshop”—a full day of key speakers and topics including flour wheat types, flour milling overview (conventional and stone grinding), flour hydration, mixing and analytical measurement/instrumentation.

All topics included detailed elements of cereal science and application to explain how to achieve quality baked products. We covered the history of flour and the basics of flour milling processes, from stone mill to roller mill methods and how they impact flour. Types of wheat types and testing methods were also covered.

Understanding flour

With such a wide variety of wheat and flour types, it helps to have a grasp of the manufacturing process. Yet even once you pick the right flour for your products, knowing how the components of flour affect mixing, proofing, baking and volume is crucial. Understanding how the starch, gluten, lipids, ash, and other components interact is key to creating quality products.

The levels of these different components, along with the sources of wheat flour, create the many variations flours. These variations allow flour to be specifically used for types of baked goods, from flakey pastries to hearty breads. We discussed how to handle these variations in flour, with the use of enzymes, oxidizing agents, reducing agents, emulsifiers and chlorine/bleaching agents.

The class took a hands-on approach in Portland’s Wheat Marketing Center’s lab, where highly skilled cereal scientists demonstrated a complex array of instrumentation with state of the art application for millers and bakers. Key areas of focus included measurement of analytical properties of flour, dough rheology and starch/pasting/viscosity application.

Imagination and opportunity

All attendees participated in an afternoon round table discussion, to dig into real-situation questions they have dealt with in the milling and baking industry. During the discussion, the group conversation related to baking test complexity, and the need to be well controlled as results can be influenced by many factors. To that end, it is important to include at least one testing procedure that describes the water relationship and viscoelastic properties related to the process and end product parameters.

The opportunity to network and share resources, knowledge and analytical tools was an important reminder for individuals of the bakery industry that “our imagination is our opportunity ” for creating and problem solving challenges—for flour and beyond.

Thank you to the BAKERpedia Academy for the outstanding educational experience and everyone who participated in this chance to share ideas and knowledge.