Ken is a friend from the CERES days. He has spent decades working with bread and calls himself a bread builder. He tells me that bread like buildings needs structural integrity: gluten strands need to link and align.
McGee’s book on food and cooking by Harold McGee has some great pictures showing light microscope pictures of gluten strands: aligning.
Flour has protein and different flours have different protein %’s. Some whole wheat flours contain 15-17% protein, while some cake flours have as little as 8%. Protein content affects how much water is absorbed by the flour used, hence why wholemeal flours rich in protein absorb more water than white flours with a low protein content.
Ken tells me that on his parents organic farm they grew wheat with a protein content of 17%. Why he asks, after all the work, time and resources that go into producing a whole wheat, would you want to mill all that goodness (protein, aleurone, germ) out of it? Most us have forgotten the health benefits of whole wheat and naively use white for everything.
Over the weekend I attended Ken’s bread making workshop at CERES Environment Park in East Brunswick, followed by a lovely one on one session here at my home.
With each bake I learn a little more as I slowly make my way to bread baking leaven.