Baking bread with pastry flour

As part of the Residency programme, Alex will be running 4 bread baking workshops.

She wants to have a fluffy, easy and cheap recipe, with everyday ingredients, to get people inspired with making bread. For this she wanted to develop a white loaf made with plain flour that is light and fluffy. However, past experimentation with plain flour for bread wasn’t terribly exciting as the lower/weaker gluten content generated a much denser crumb.

Protein content is directly related to how much gluten can be formed using that particular flour. Gluten helps create structure and determine texture in your final baked good. Flours with low protein contents will generate less gluten and flours with high protein content will create more.

To get the light and airy structure of cakes, you want a flour with very little protein. But to form the dense chewy structure of bread, you want a flour with a lot of protein so that you can create as much gluten as possible.

Here is the approximate protein content of all the common types of flour:

Very Strong Bread Flour: 14 – 16%
Strong Bread Flour: 10 – 13%
Pastry Flour: 9 – 10%
Cake Flour: 7-8%

To make up for the weaker gluten she decided to add a few other ingredients that are things everyone has at home and can still allow for a good value bread. The secret here is fat. Alex is an unconditional fan of milk loaves (they are made with eggs, butter and full-fat milk) but she wanted a plain flour loaf to be made more on budget than this. So for this experiment, she kept the egg, replaced the butter with a tablespoon of vegetable oil and the milk with water.

The fat in egg yolks helps shorten the gluten strands in bread dough, increasing the gluten’s elasticity. This results in a more tender crumb and softer crust in the finished bread. Additionally, the coagulating property of eggs, due to their protein, helps create a more tender and even texture. As a leavening agent, the eggs contribute to the bread dough rising higher than a non-egg yeast bread.

500g plain Flour
250 Water – 50%
1 pack instant Yeast (7g) – 1.8%
30g Sugar – 6%
1 Egg – 11%
15g Vegetable Oil – 4%
10g Salt – 2%

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