We all love to eat a diverse variety of baked products such as bread, bagels, pasta, or pretzels. It is no secret that it takes a lot of effort to make these recipes perfectly. The most important ingredient which lays the foundation of the savory flavors of these products in our mouths is flour. Therefore, it becomes indispensable to choose the right kind of flour to ensure your recipe turns out just right. Here, let’s know about the Strong Flour in the USA.
If you are looking for that perfect springy, chewy feel, soft crumb, and golden crust in your bread, Strong flour is the ideal choice for you. Most of us by now might be wondering what this new kind of flour is as it is popularly known as Strong bread flour or simply bread flour in the United States of America. Let us delve more into the concepts of this special kind of flour.
The origins of flour and types of flour
Flour can be termed as a skeleton that supports all the other ingredients in our favorite baked products. Choosing the right kind of flour from the available kinds is a prerequisite to produce an appetizing product. Flour is usually prepared by finely grinding grains into a powder through a process called milling. This finely prepared powder is then used in a variety of recipes. Depending on the amount of protein and gluten content, there are wide varieties of flours, such as cake flours, pastry flours, coconut flours, but the most important and commonly used of them are All-purpose flour and Strong flour.
Strong flour of USA
Generally, as compared to other countries, particularly, United Kingdom, the protein levels of flours in the USA tend to be higher. This is what makes the bread in the USA taste different and much more chewer. The strong flour which has the highest amount of protein content in the USA (much higher than in the UK), and is used to make bread is a special form of ingredient which all bakers must know.
As stated above, the factor that makes each flour unique in itself is the varying amount of protein. When we mix the dry flour with water, the protein forms the gluten, thus making the dough elastic and spongy. This science of dough making is what makes the strong flour unique and the bread made out of it lighter and chewier.
Strong flour or as it is commonly known in the United States bread flour, is solely made from hard wheat grains by milling. It contains a comparatively high content of protein ranging around 11-13/14%, which consequently gives it a high gluten content enabling it to rise to a good structure. Furthermore, due to having such a high level of protein, the bread flour absorbs more liquid enabling it to rise upward instead of outward. This produces sturdy flour and when baked has an off-white texture.
Advantages and Disadvantages of choosing strong flour
There are certain pros and cons of everything and so they are of the strong flour:
- Advantages of choosing strong flour
- Formation of stable and risen dough.
- Mouthful and chewy bread.
- Rises upward instead of outward giving a perfect texture to the bread.
- Rich in folic acid and vitamin B-9 which is good for health.
- Disadvantages of choosing strong flour
- Due to the presence of more protein content, it absorbs a lot of liquid and hence consequential requires more kneading
- It is unsuitable for people who have gluten sensitivity or allergy and Celiac disease which is a digestive disorder that causes an automatic immune response to gluten-filled products.
Bread flours vs. All-purpose flour- What to choose?
The major difference between both types of flour similar to other flours is the protein and gluten content. Strong flour has a higher protein and gluten content comparatively which enables the baker to make well risen, soft, and chewy products. While on the other hand albeit all-purpose flour can be used to make bread, pasta, and other products, it has a low gluten content which makes it more suitable for other products like cookies or pastries.
|More gluten level
|Less gluten level
|The high content of protein leads to a more stable and well-risen dough.
|It has low protein content leading to the formation of lighter dough
|Makes more airy and chewy bread
|Might make dense bread
It is not like that one cannot substitute all-purpose flour or any other flour in place of strong flour but always remember that substation might lead to change in taste, structure, and texture of products. It is always preferable to go for strong flour for making bread and other allied goods.
Choosing flour and making a recipe is a huge science in itself. Therefore, a baker has to carefully make a decision. Strong flour is the ideal flour for making coarse products such as bread especially. It should be only used to make products mouthful and chewy and should not be substituted in place of lighter flours. The substitutes should be used only when necessary.