A Tale of Two Dough Balls

EXPERIMENT #2:
How much difference in yield between bread flour at 12.7% protein, vs. all purpose (AP) flour at 11.7%?

It really doesn’t sound like much when you think about it, but I figured I’d put it to the test. Every flour is different, so different brands may yield different results. For the purposes of my experiment, I used King Arthur brand flour in the U.S. since I have always had success with it.

I began again much the same as experiment #1: 450g of each flour in separate bowls, each hydrated with 236g of water. The resulting weight was again very similar after combining, and I evened them out as before to start at 670g each before washing. I washed in very much the same way as before, too: 3 times each in 3-minute increments, using cool water, then lukewarm, then cool. I noticed as I was washing that the bread flour got to the consistency and water clarity that I was aiming for faster than the AP flour. For those of you who like to get things done as quickly as possible, that’s worth noting.

This time the weigh-ins at the end of resting and wringing out were much more noticeably different. The bread flour weighed in at 225g, and the AP at 186g. Rounding both up to the nearest percent, I got 34% gluten yield out of the bread flour, and 28% yield out of the AP. Thinking in terms of grams, if you begin a recipe with that calls for 6 cups of flour, you’re now talking about a difference of 78g in your final result, and many recipes call for even more. This could lead to some significant differences in the final product, especially when it comes to mixing in wet ingredients for seasoning or adding additional proteins.

The price of flour varies greatly from region to region and across the globe. If cost is a factor for you and AP flour is significantly cheaper where you live, you could potentially just add just a little more flour to your initial dough ball when starting out.

CONCLUSION: There is enough of a difference where I would suggest that if you want to save a little time and get a little more out of your flour, bread flour is the clear winner. If the difference in yield doesn’t match the difference in cost for you, however, and you’re willing to wash for just a little bit longer, you might want to consider adding an additional 1/2 cup of AP flour per every 3 cups in a recipe utilizing bread flour to get a similar gluten yield.

Personal note: I believe I should experiment with this a few more times to see if I get similar results. If I do, I will update all of my washed flour recipes with this information to hopefully help everyone achieve the best results they can get!

About the Author:

I created this website hoping to make it easier for people interested in seitan to be able to find, share, and rate recipes. Through both research and my own experimentation, I hope to answer some commonly asked questions in the "Learn More About Seitan" section, and you’ll find some of my own recipes here, too. Happy cooking!

6 Comments

  1. Mara April 19, 2021 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    How about covering the dough ball with a plastic bag, and giving it some room? I do that with my sour dough so a crust does not form. I think I read somewhere to submerge the doughball in water and place it in the fridge. Then taking it out, wouldn’t that make it harder to work with, to get the stretch and the knots? Not sure, a newbie here.

    • Jen April 19, 2021 at 2:43 pm - Reply

      I was taught that a cloth and allowing the dough to “breath” was better, but testing out a plastic bag sounds like another worthy experiment! I still prefer the cover-with-water method, though. I just leave it on the counter to rest like that. It really made no difference to me in ease of being able to wash out the starch, and since I’m washing with water, anyway, I just start with the water that’s in my bowl. No need to add laundry to the equation! 😆

  2. erica dawson November 3, 2021 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    Hi thankyou for this it has answerd so many questions for me ✌

    • Jen November 3, 2021 at 11:44 pm - Reply

      Awesome! Happy to have helped. 😊

  3. Simon January 30, 2022 at 5:57 am - Reply

    How do you dispose the starchy water if you’re not using it for anything else? I used to do the WTF method when vital wheat gluten was hard to find where I live and it clogged our house sink. However, to this day I think seitan from the WTF method is much tastier and would like to do it at least occasionally or having it as a resource for example when travelling and not having vital wheat gluten at hand. The starchy water is the problem.

    • Jen January 30, 2022 at 9:02 am - Reply

      You can compost it, it’s high in nitrogen. If it’s too much starch for your compost (often the case for me since I just have a small composter) or that’s not possible, you can freeze it and throw it in the trash in garbage day (my preferred method) or microwave it till it gets stiff and toss it that way. Finally you can dehydrate it – I pour it in thin layers on sheet pans and put it in my oven with the light on for 24-48 hours, breaking it up as it dries to help it along. Hope that helps!

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