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I have been unable to find bread flour in my local grocery store, but did find a bread mix that contained three ingredients (wheat flour, salt and raising agent). Judging by the instructions on the pack to leave the dough to rise, I figured the raising agent was yeast and that it would be a decent substitute for bread flour.

My usual recipe is 750g flour, 1pkt yeast, some salt, couple tb sugar, 100ml oil and 600ml water. I treated this flour in the same way and immediately ran into issues:

  • It was extremely dry. I usually like a higher hydration loaf and expect it to be quite sticky and it was behaving like a much lower hydration dough. I ended up having to add another 75ish ml to get it to be the way it should be.
  • It took ages to knead. I usually knead by hand 10-ish minutes, and it must have taken a good 25 minutes to knead, and even then it didn't pass a proper window pane test, but I'd given up by that point.

Apart from the above, the rest of the process went fine, I did a doubled-in-size rise, shaped into pans and then a 30 min rise, and then into the oven at 200C for 45ish minutes. The crumb was tighter than I'm used to but it was still a decent enough loaf.

So now I'm curious what exactly this bread mix is, and exactly why this behaved so differently. My current hypotheses:

  • Perhaps a lower gluten content bread.
  • Perhaps a quickbread mix that actually had a chemical leavened. (but then why do they instruct to leave the bread to rise?)

Would either of these cause my mix to be really dry and take ages to knead properly? Or something else?

The product: enter image description here

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    Welcome! Could you please add the package size? Combined with the instructions, we can calculate hydration. – Stephie Apr 8 '20 at 20:17
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    it was 100% hydration (500g flour, 500ml water). – stanri Apr 8 '20 at 20:19
  • Thanks, that helps. – Stephie Apr 8 '20 at 20:19
  • Your best bet is to contact the producing company and ask them. – user29568 Apr 8 '20 at 22:54
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FLours differ in their ability to bind water. The reason why our recipes work with the AP flour in the supermarket is that the mills adjust the flour int he supermarket to behave in roughly the same way - and by "adjust", I mean they really measure several parameters of different grains and blend it until it performs in the usual way. (They have to change the actual blend frequently, because even with the same wheat cultivar, growing condition differences due to location and weather mean that each batch will behave differently).

I don't think there is some kind of deeper explanation here than just saying what you already observed - this flour is not formulated to behave like the typical AP flour, it produces a different amount/strength of gluten for the same amount of hydration. You might want to try baking the recipe from the package and see if you prefer it.

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  • I'm not using AP flour, though? AP flour isn't sold here (south africa). It's either 'cake flour' or 'bread flour'. I will try the bread from the package and see anyway. – stanri Apr 9 '20 at 11:08
  • Nonetheless, I guess it is just a lower gluten content flour. I will probably contact them and ask. – stanri Apr 9 '20 at 11:09
  • @stan lower gluten content is likely to give you a wetter feeling dough for the same hydration, not drier dough. Even if the gluten content is lower, it is unlikely the full explanation for the symptoms you observed. – rumtscho Apr 9 '20 at 11:25
  • oh interesting, I didn't know that. Thanks. I figured lower gluten because it took so long to knead – stanri Apr 9 '20 at 11:32
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My first impression was that the flour you found was self-rising flour, but with additional information provided (thank you), it does seem that your box contained yeast as the rising agent.

Ouma bread (a traditional South African bread) is made with yeast. I believe this means something like "Grandmother's bread." Flour does become rancid over time, and rising agents become inert over time, but it sounds like your yeast was just fine.

The flour was probably bread flour with a higher protein content. If you're used to using AP flour this could account for the differences you found when kneading.

To answer your question about determining gluten content, see my answer to this question.

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  • If it is baking powder, why do the instructions say to leave the loaf to rise? – stanri Apr 8 '20 at 19:10
  • @stan, I'm not sure what recipe you're following. I'd need to see it to comment. But if your recipe calls for yeast and/or starter, then, depending on the recipe and type of yeast, you might bulk ferment and/or proof. – myklbykl Apr 8 '20 at 19:19
  • The break mix I bought, the instructions on the pack say to add water (so the "recipe" is flour, salt, raising agent and water") and leave the mix to rise. I don't know what the raising agent is. if it is baking powder, why do the instructions say to leave it to rise? – stanri Apr 8 '20 at 19:42
  • @stan, What is the product you bought and what kind of bread are you making from it? – myklbykl Apr 8 '20 at 19:43
  • I posted my recipe in the question. I will post the image of the product. From your questions I get the impression you didn't read the OP. – stanri Apr 8 '20 at 19:45

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