I have been baking bread using Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour and getting very good results. Because of the recent shortage of flour, I could not get Bob’s Red Mill. So instead I went to a restaurant supply store and bought a 50 lb sack of Pillsbury XXXX Patent Flour, which contains a protein level of 12.6%.
I follow the exact same recipe using the patent flour but I get a very different result. It seems the patent flour dough is stiffer and I get less rise than I get from the Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour. I’m stumped as to why? Does patent flour need more moisture to get the same dough consistency? Are there other differences between the two flours that would affect how much liquid you would use??
See the attached photo. Both baked with identical recipes. On the left, Bob’s Red Mil Artisan Bread Flour. On the right, Pillsbury XXXX Patent Flour.
Proteins absorb 150-200 percent of their weight in water; the patent flour is 0.5-1% higher in protein (based on the desired 11-12% protein content for artisan bread flour), and will therefore need more water to achieve the same consistency in the dough. Most artisan bakers would say that dough consistency is more important than water quantity. When changing flours, hydration will frequently change, so try to match the feel of the dough by adding more water when using the new flour.
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