Monday, June 15, 2009

Flour numbers are in

Just got the most recent report from the Avon mill in Avon, Iowa, where they mill Harvest King flour. I receive them every thirty days. The report is broken down week by week for that thirty day period. It's valuable information. The percentages of protein, moisture, ash and the falling number are all disclosed. I noticed that flour milled the week of June first thru the seventh had the highest protein level since March of 2008. The report is broken down into three sections, miller's data, farinograph data and alveograph data. The millers data is the most important to the baker. the other info is really info that the miller would use to adjust the mill stream as it is being milled.

One of the unique numbers is the "falling number". I have been speaking of enzymatic activity. The falling number test is one that is done to determine the amount of protease activity in the flour. In a laboratory setting, of course, at the mill, a solution is made of equal parts of flour and water. The slurry is poured into a test tube and the test tube is placed in boiling water. A kinda ski pole looking instrument is place on top of the slurry. It is free falling, pretty much weightless. Once placed in the water, a timer is started and they count the number of seconds it takes for that ski pole to fall to the bottom of the test tube. Remember, water activates the protease and heat will intensify the denaturing effect. When the enzyme is fully activated, the wheat protein will be denatured enough that all the elastic characteristics in the flour will be destroyed. consequently, it can no longer support the weight of the ski pole thingy. A good falling number is right around two hundred sixty. If that number is to low, the miller will adjust the mill stream by adding malted barley flour, or fungal amylase. If the number is to high, the miller will add more flour milled from the centre of the endosperm, where there isn't much enzyme. In God's infinite wisdom, he created the wheat berry with most of the enzyme out near the the bran where it would have an effect on things and not so much on the core of the endosperm where it wasn't needed.

I know this info doesn't matter much to most of you, much less to many bakers, but in order for us to create a consistent product, one needs to understand this.Like i said there is a difference between someone who bakes and someone who is a baker.

Tomorrow, one of life's perplexing questions: How does bread go stale?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home