Friday, March 4, 2011

Soft Wheat Room for Improvement, Part II

When we left this subject yesterday, I told you I would talk about the soft wheat flour and my first experience with it.
For the Soft White Wheat

First we'll talk about grinding the flour:  On my Whispermill, I chose a setting one notch finer than what I use for bread flour. 
For Hard White Wheat (bread)
 Why?  Because I have the impression that flour used in waffles, biscuits, cakes, etc. should be finer than for bread, and I also think that my bread flour is a fairly all-purpose texture, so I just went a bit finer.  No real knowledge or science behind the decision.  A guess, really.                                                                                                              
Soft Wheat, more clingy
Hard Wheat, more grainy
It's probably difficult to tell by the photos, but the soft wheat flour is softer and more talcum-powder-like in the way it feels and clings to my fingers.  The hard wheat (bread) flour is more like individual grains and doesn't coat my hands the same way.  It's not a big difference, but it's there.   It's most obvious on my index finger, where the soft wheat flour adhered to the lines in my skin.                                                                                  
The hard wheat also makes a browner flour because of, I think, having darker bran.
Browner Hard Wheat
The whiter, softer Soft Wheat


Now onto using it:  I used my favorite biscuit recipe, Biscuits Supreme, from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (1968).  For me it's a never fail recipe, and usually produces tall, flaky biscuits, nicely brown and crispy on the top and lusciously soft on the inside.                                                                                                                               
When I mixed up the biscuit dough, using the freshly milled flour, I had a much wetter dough.  I would've thought the finer flour would soak up more of the milk, not less. According to "Grainlady," helpful contributor on the Gardenweb Cooking Forum, protein content, again, is the reason...The lesser protein levels in this, compared to all-purpose or hard wheat flour, makes a difference in moisture absorption.  She said I should decrease the liquid or increase the flour until the result is more 'normal' for biscuit dough.                                                                                                                                                      
I kneaded in some flour to that initial attempt, but just enough to barely be able to handle the dough.  It wasn't enough, because the biscuits didn't rise very tall and they weren't as light and crispy as usual.  I should have trusted my gut, and the 'feel' I was after.  I will know better next time.


  1. You're such a scientist with the baking! They didn't have the texture that you were going for, but how'd they taste?

  2. They tasted all right, I guess, but so thin they were difficult to cut in half, and if the texture is off, it's all off. ;-)


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