Does washing in cool or warm water affect the gluten?
The way I learned to wash flour was to alternate between cool and lukewarm water with each wash. The mindset behind this, as far as I understand it, is that the cooler water tightens and strengthens the gluten, while the warmer water loosens it and makes it easier to wash out the starch. When washing, I can actually feel this process happening, so it’s not something I ever questioned.
I began again with two 450g bowls of 12.7% protein bread flour, and hydrated each with 236g of water. I matched each weight to 671g before washing. This time I set the timer for a straight 9 minutes. For both dough balls I changed the water twice. The first one I washed was using only cool, almost cold water. The second was using only lukewarm.
I noticed myself struggling to really break up the starch with the cold water. The clumps wanted to stay clumpy. When washing with lukewarm, the process felt much easier to breakdown the starches and I got to my desired water clarity more quickly. Once again I let them drain and I wrang out as much excess water as possible. While wringing them out, I could see how much more starch was left in the dough ball that was washed with cold water.
This also proved to be the case on the scale. The cold water dough ball weighed in at 250g, and the lukewarm water at 220g. I really do believe that the cold water ball was weighed down by more starch, not by more gluten. The lukewarm dough ball weighed in right line with my first washing experiment, and was achieved in the same amount of time.