Bakery assessment of flour quality, water absorption capacity of flour

Flour is the main raw material in baking. The quality of bakery products, in addition to the correct conduct of the technological process, is largely determined by the quality of flour. The currently existing techno-chemical and organoleptic methods for assessing the quality of flour cannot yet give a complete picture of the quality of bread that will be baked from a given flour sample. A baker, having only physical and chemical indicators of flour, usually indicated in certificates (quality documents) for flour, cannot correctly build a technological process. The technological process, as we will see below, changes depending on the quality of the flour. The most correct and complete picture of the quality of flour can only be obtained from a test baking of bread. Test baking determines the so-called baking capacity of flour.

Baking ability is understood as a set of separate quality indicators of flour, which further determine the quality of bread. Flour has a good baking ability if it produces bread with a large volume, elastic crumb and a good crust, if the technological process is carried out correctly. The baking ability is also characterized by the water-absorbing ability of flour, that is, the ability of flour to absorb a certain amount of water when kneading the dough., the weight yield of bread and the behavior of the dough during kneading and fermentation (the dough should be elastic, not sticky and not spread quickly during proofing).

After baking and evaluating bread, individual quality indicators, expressed in numbers, with the help of formulas, are reduced to a single figure, which conditionally characterizes the baking capacity of a given flour. The higher this figure is, the better the baking ability.

The baking ability of flour is determined mainly by the chemical composition of the flour and the presence of enzymes in it. Taking into account that the chemical composition of flour and the formation of enzymes in the latter depend both on the grain and type (yield) of flour, and on the conditions for further storage of flour, the baking ability can be very diverse. This is especially the case when working with wheat flour.

The soil and climatic conditions of the regions in which the grain grew affect the chemical composition of the grain. On the other hand, there are different varieties of wheat, which in the same area give different grains in quality. Flour of the same yield, obtained from such wheat, has a different chemical composition. In addition, different varieties of flour can be obtained from a certain grain, depending on the grinding method. Each type of flour will differ in chemical composition and have a different baking ability.

High grades of flour, containing a small amount of bran and elastic gluten capable of resisting, have good baking ability. On the other hand, low varieties of flour, with a high content of bran and with a weak viscous gluten, which gives a blurry dough when proofed, are characterized by poor baking ability.

The baking qualities of flour are also characterized by the weight yield of bread. This factor is of great importance for baking. In most cases, the greater the weight yield of bread, the higher the weight yield of the dough from a given type of flour.In turn, the weight yield of the dough depends on the water absorption capacity of the flour.

The water absorption capacity of flour is the ability of flour to absorb water to form a dough of normal consistency. The normal consistency of the dough (state of the dough in terms of strength, density) is not constant for all varieties of bakery products... So, when baking pan bread, the dough is always weaker in consistency than for hearth. Consequently, a dough of normal consistency for pan bread will not be suitable for a hearth. This is taken into account when determining the water absorption capacity of flour.

The water absorption capacity of flour is determined by the ratio of flour and water in the dough, which depends on the quality of the flour. Flour is dry, with good gluten, aged, absorbs more water than wet, with insufficient maturation and weak gluten. With an increase in the percentage of flour yield, the water absorption capacity increases, since the bran absorbs water well. The higher the water absorption capacity of the flour, the greater the yield of dough, and, consequently, the greater the yield of bread (baking) such flour will give.
The water absorption capacity of flour, depending on the quality and grade, ranges from 40 to 75%. For certain varieties of flour, the water absorption capacity is determined by the following figures:
Wheat flour of the highest grade about 50%
, 1st grade 52.
, 2nd grade 56,
wallpaper flour 60.
Rye wallpaper flour 70,
peeled 68,

The water absorption capacity of flour can be determined by several methods. The most convenient and more correct method should be the gradual addition of flour to a certain amount of water. To do this, 25 cm3 of water is poured into a porcelain cup, to which flour is gradually added, and the dough is kneaded to a normal consistency. The resulting piece of dough is weighed on a scale, then the amount of flour in grams used to knead the dough is determined, and the result is expressed as a percentage.
Suppose that the weight of the dough was expressed in 75 g. Flour was required: 75 - 25 = 50 g. Therefore, the water absorption capacity of this flour will be: = 50%.
The results obtained are of course indicative. When preparing the dough in production, it is necessary to make an amendment, taking into account the properties of the subsequent swelling of the flour during fermentation, as well as the recipe (oil, molasses, sugar, eggs, etc.).

To determine the baking ability of flour, there are a number of methods (Neumann, Saunders), but all of them require a laboratory setting and therefore may not always be applicable.
In addition, the expression of flour baking ability in one number does not give a complete picture of flour quality.

For a technologist, a baker, it is important to have separate indicators characterizing the quality of bread, such as: the color of the crumb and crust, taste, smell, bread volume, porosity, vagueness, etc. It is also important to determine the defectiveness of flour (maltiness, crunch, potato disease). The identification of individual indicators of flour will make it possible to compose such a bulk (roll) in production, which will ensure the baking of bread of the best quality. This leads to the fact that the test baking is produced in a more simplified way.

Source: L. M. Plotnikov, M. F. Kolesnikov "350 varieties of bakery products"

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