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Monday, April 11, 2011

Vital Wheat Gluten - a baker's secret weapon

     The secret to a good wheat bread is to add vital wheat gluten to your recipe. It's a bakers secret weapon. Two nationally available brands I've shown on the right. Hodgson Mill is what I found in my local grocery store's baking aisle. NOTE: The Amazon prices shown are very high. I paid less than $5 for the Hodgson Mill box at my grocer.
     Bob's Red Mill describes vital wheat gluten as: "Gluten, Vital Wheat is the natural protein found in wheat. It contains 75% protein. A small amount added to yeast bread recipes improves the texture and elasticity of the dough. This is often used by commercial bakeries to produce light textured breads, and can easily put the home bread baker on a par with the professionals." From the back of the package, the directions read: "Bob's Vital Wheat Gluten is 75% to 80% protein. Add about one tablespoon per cup of flour in your bread recipe to improve texture and elasticity and help your bread to rise."
     I store mine in a labeled sealed plastic container in my refrigerator door since I don't use it often. Sometimes I just add a teaspoon or even half a teaspoon to what I'm baking. Then again, I tend to bake with half wheat flour and half white flour. If you tend to bake with all 100% wheat flour, you'll need more as the package recommends. The difference between all-purpose flour and bread flour is that extra gluten is added to the bread flour. By using this product, you can add that extra gluten to any of your baking items that need a little extra oomph to get that nice light consistency and a higher loaf. It doesn't matter if your using a bread machine or making bread by hand, the vital wheat gluten is what's needed to help a 100% wheat loaf rise.

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