Q: I want to use a white flour with higher protein, how do I adjust the recipe?
A: We wrote the original white-flour Master Recipe for our first book with typical all-purpose white flour (such as Gold Medal), which has a protein content of about 9.8-10.5%. The following flours have a greater protein content and will require you to add more water to dough that is entirely made from these white flours. You don’t need all that extra water if white flour only part of the loaf’s flour mixture.
King Arthur All-Purpose, 11.7% protein (add approximately 1/4 cup extra water to the full recipe).
Dakota Maid All-Purpose: add approximately 1/4 cup extra water to the full recipe
Canadian all-purpose flour, most brands: add approximately 1/4 cup extra water to the full recipe
Gold Medal Better for Bread 12.5% protein: add approximately 1/3 cup extra water to the full recipe
King Arthur Bread Flour 12.7% protein (add approximately 1/3 cup extra water to the full recipe)
Any “bread” flour: Most flour labeled as “bread flour” is 12-13% protein (add approximately 1/3 cup extra water to the full recipe). In Europe, this flour is labeled as “strong flour.” If a flour is labeled as “high-gluten” it’s probably 14-15% protein (add approximately 1/2 cup extra water to the full recipe).
Q: What is the weight of the flour that you use?
A: We wrote the book with measures because we find that most people are still using cup measures when baking. We have been pleasantly surprised at the number of our readers that are scaling their recipes. Here are the weight equivalents to the flour that we use:
1 cup all-purpose flour = 5oz
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (master recipe) = 2 pounds
1 cup whole wheat = 4 1/2 oz
1 cup of rye = 4 1/4 oz
Q: What should the “hydration” of the dough be?
A: Again, we tried to avoid confusing professional language in the book, but several people have asked about bakers percentages and hydration levels for white flour. The hydration needed for dough storage will vary with to the type of flour you are using. “Hydration,” when the term is used by professional bakers, means the ratio of the water weight to the flour weight, expresed as a percentage. High protein flours absorb much more water and will require you to add more water. Here are the hydration levels we’ve used, but remember, this applies to dough made from white flours (whole grain is a different story, requiring higher levels of hydration):
When using most all-purpose flours (eg., Gold Medal): 75% hydration
When using Gold Medal Better for Bread: 83% hydration
When using King Arthur all-purpose: 81% hydration
When using King Arthur bread flour: 83% hydration
When using most bread flours: 83% hydration
When using most high-gluten flours: 85% hydration
More in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books. If you use vital wheat gluten to get an airier crumb with whole grains loaves, you need even more hydration–see Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
We recommend that you follow the Master Recipes in our books as we have written them until you get a feel for the proper consistency. Once you know what it should feel like then it is wonderful to play with other flours.