The Dough Doctor answers questions about flour differences and their impacts on pizza crust
Q: What is the difference between enriched and un-enriched flour, and bleached flour versus unbleached flour?
A: As in many things that we like to eat, the most nutritious part is the part that we sometimes remove before consumption (as is commonly the case with potatoes and apples). Wheat is no exception to this, either, since we typically remove the outer layer of the wheat berry (which we call the bran) prior to consumption. As a result, some of the essential vitamins and minerals are lost during the milling process. To restore these lost vitamins and minerals, the flour is “enriched” to the same level of vitamins and minerals as it would have if the bran portion was still present in the flour. The only main difference between enriched and un-enriched flour is in the fiber content that is lost when the bran is removed. Otherwise, enriched and un-enriched flours are essentially the same in performance and flavor characteristics. Un-enriched flour, if desired, can be enriched when used in a product formulation by adding specially formulated enrichment, usually in a wafer form, which when dissolved in a portion of the dough water restores the vitamin and mineral content of the flour to that of commercially purchased enriched flour.
Bleaching of bread flour is done to remove the beta carotenoid pigments from the milled flour giving it a brighter, whiter appearance. At one time in our history white flour was reserved for use only by royalty, leaving the peasants only the whole grain flours to make their bread. Once out from under the thumb of said royalty, the peasants prided themselves in eating white bread just as royalty did. This resulted in a desire to produce whiter flour resulting in a brighter, whiter colored crumb structure in the finished bread.
In the 1970s, consumers began a quest to find greater comfort in their food, bread included. This resulted in a demand for bread with a richer, more yellowish crumb structure. The answer to this was in unbleached flour with the yellow pigments still intact, not having been bleached out. Hence millers offered their different flour types in both bleached and unbleached forms. The only difference between bleached flour and unbleached flour is one of aesthetics, based on the color of the crumb structure of the baked product. Today’s consumer has become accustomed to the yellowish crumb color imparted by unbleached flour and in some way believes the color is more appealing and the product better/healthier to consume.
Q: We have developed a crust formula/recipe based on replacing 25 percent of our regular pizza flour with whole-wheat flour. But, lately, we have detected a slight “off” aroma in our whole-wheat flour. Can you tell me what is causing this?
A: Whole-wheat flour contains the fat portion of the wheat berry/kernel. This is called the germ portion of the kernel, and it is located at the angular end of the kernel opposite the pointed/rounded end. Germ oil is rather unstable, and hence it turns rancid rather quickly. To prevent this from happening it is suggested that whole-wheat flour not be stored outside of refrigeration for more than 10 to 15 days. If a longer shelf life is needed, the flour should be refrigerated or frozen to extend its shelf life.
In all probability, what you are picking up on is the development of this rancidity. Since the free fatty acids responsible for the rancidity are steam distilled off during baking, the finished/baked product generally doesn’t have a rancid aroma or taste immediately after baking. The flavor and aroma soon return after a few days of storage. Since most pizzas are consumed either immediately or just a short time after baking, it is doubtful that this will present a problem for you. But if you were making bread or some other product where it might be subjected to a week or more of room-temperature storage before being consumed, the outcome might be significantly different and not as favorable. So with this in mind, how long can you effectively keep whole-wheat flour? Some might argue three months to a year, but my advice is to not order more whole-wheat flour than you can use in a 30-day period of time.
Q: We prepare all of our doughs from a bag mix that we put together ourselves containing a small amount of flour, all of the salt, sugar and instant dry yeast (IDY). In addition we add flour, water, oil and whole eggs to the mix when preparing the dough. Is it possible for us to use dried eggs in the mix as a replacement for the shell eggs that we are presently adding at the time of mixing the dough?
A: There should not be any problem in using dried whole eggs as a substitute for the fresh shell eggs that you are presently using. Dried whole eggs should be available from any distributor supplying ingredients to the baking industry. To replace the shell eggs with dried whole egg you will need to get a weight on the number of eggs that you are adding to your dough and then take 25 percent of that weight as the amount of dried whole egg needed to replace them with. The dried whole egg can be dry blended into the dry mix and stored at room temperature just as you presently store your dry mixes/goodie bags.
An advantage to using dried whole egg as opposed to shell eggs is one of sanitation. You won’t need to worry about disposing of the eggshells properly or about the potential for cross contamination, which should make your local health department a bit happier, too. Since the shell eggs that you are presently using are a part of the total dough absorption, be sure to increase the water content of the dough by three times the weight of dried whole egg used.
Tom Lehmann is a former director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas and Pizza Today’s resident dough expert.