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Author Topic: King Arthur Flour Absorption Rates  (Read 9308 times)

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Online Pete-zza

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King Arthur Flour Absorption Rates
« on: February 03, 2007, 03:07:53 PM »
One of the things that has long perplexed me is why King Arthur does not publish the absorption rates of their all-purpose and bread flours sold at the retail level. For those who are interested in this sort of thing, the absorption rate of a flour is a technical characteristic most closely related to the hydration rate. In the past, I did find materials at the professional section of the KA website that gave the absorption rates for several of their flours, but not for the all-purpose and bread flours that we so frequently use. A good example is this document: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/professional/specifications-conventional-bakery-flour.html.  Another example is this one, for its organic flours: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/professional/specifications-organic-bakery-flour.html.

Since I was unable to find the corresponding numbers for the KA all-purpose and bread flours after scouring the KA website and doing several online searches, I decided to call KA. Through voicemail exchanges with Tod Bramble, the flour guru at KA, I learned that the KA retail all-purpose flour has an absorption rate of 61% +/- 2%, and that the KA retail bread flour has an absorption rate of 62% +/- 2%. Many of our members who use the KA Sir Lancelot flour are already aware of its 63% +/- 2% absorption rate. I also learned that there are professional counterparts to the KA all-purpose and bread flours. The professional counterpart to the all-purpose flour is called Sir Galahad.  For the bread flour, it is called Special.

My practice has been to use the rated absorption rates when in doubt. It is a conservative, but safe, approach. For example, if I were to suggest that one use 66% hydration for the Sir Lancelot flour (KASL), I know from experience and feedback that there will be many who will have a hard time handling the dough because it is too wet. So, 63% seems safe, although there will be those who will find even that value too high. I might add that there is an interesting correlation between the rated absorption rate and what is called the “operational absorption” rate, which is essentially the optimum hydration that produces the best results. I first learned of this correlation from member scpizza who was kind enough to send me a link to this article: http://www.bsimagazine.com/feature_stories_print.asp?ArticleID=37104. As noted in the article, the operational absorption rate can be 2-4% higher than the rated absorption rate. That would suggest that a flour like the KASL can tolerate a sizable increase in hydration above its rated absorption of 63% +/- 2%. That might also help explain why some members are able to get, say, 65-70% hydration, with a high gluten flour like the KASL.

Peter

EDIT (1/16/14): To read the article at the above inoperative bsimagazine.com link, see Reply 9 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,8419.msg72940/topicseen.html#msg72940
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 09:25:17 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline abatardi

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Re: King Arthur Flour Absorption Rates
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2007, 12:50:27 AM »
Another reason people get higher absorption rates: their flour is older and no longer at the ~10% moisture it came from the mill with.

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Offline pkasten

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Re: King Arthur Flour Absorption Rates
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2007, 01:06:43 AM »
Another reason people get higher absorption rates: their flour is older and no longer at the ~10% moisture it came from the mill with.

I suppose that depends on the relative humidity in which it's stored. 

Of course, if you remove more water, then it can take more in mixing..

sort of like using a little more bench flour to form a ball at a supposedly higher hydration %... just because your dough is at 65 when mixed, doesn't mean you're not taking it down to 60 by the time it's portioned/balled, or 55 by the time it's shaped into a disc and ready for topping.


Online Pete-zza

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Re: King Arthur Flour Absorption Rates
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2007, 02:59:13 AM »
Those are all good points.

As the links referenced above note, the maximum rated moisture content of the King Arthur flours are 14%. For some European flours, it can be around 15.5%. As pointed out in this Lehmann PMQ Think Tank reply, http://www.pmq.com/cgi-bin/tt/index.cgi?read=21536, depending on storage and other conditions, the moisture in flour can get down to as low as 10.5%. See also, Reply 1 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3331.msg28181.html#msg28181 for additional detail. Differences in protein level apparently will also mandate higher absorption as noted in this Lehmann PMQTT reply: http://www.pmq.com/cgi-bin/tt/index.cgi?read=15053 and also in the article referenced by scpizza. That article does not mention flour moisture, so it is not clear whether and to what extent it was taken into account in drawing the distinction between rated absorption and operational absorption. I suspect there would be differences even for fresh flour and, for purposes of the tests described in the article, I would think that they would be done with fresh flour rather than random flours in the field.

Peter

Offline avecletemps

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Re: King Arthur Flour Absorption Rates
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2007, 05:59:40 AM »
Peter,

I would like you to know that I appreciate this information.

Moon


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Online Pete-zza

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Re: King Arthur Flour Absorption Rates
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2007, 09:40:58 AM »
Moon,

I'm glad. Thank you.

Peter

Offline holly821

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Re: King Arthur Flour Absorption Rates
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2017, 01:47:54 PM »
Where can you find a flour's absorption rate?   Once I know my flour's absorption rate, how do I know how much water to add to it?

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: King Arthur Flour Absorption Rates
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2017, 02:08:56 PM »
Once I know my flour's absorption rate, how do I know how much water to add to it?

You won't. There are too many other variables. You have to experiment and figure out what works for you in your unique situation.
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Online Pete-zza

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Re: King Arthur Flour Absorption Rates
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2017, 04:08:45 PM »
Where can you find a flour's absorption rate?   Once I know my flour's absorption rate, how do I know how much water to add to it?
Holly,

I agree with Craig. In any event, you are unlikely to find the rated absorption value of a given flour in the U.S. because the majority of millers in the U.S. do not publish those numbers. However, if you inquire as to any given flour, the miller of that flour may provide the information. If you'd like, I can give you some rough guidelines as to the values for different basic types of flour--such as all purpose flour, bread flour or high gluten flour--if only for starting purposes, but you will most likely have to conduct experiments and tests to determine what will work best for you. My numbers would be based primarily on protein content and experience based on having studied hundreds of spec sheets for flours over many years.

Peter

Offline holly821

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Re: King Arthur Flour Absorption Rates
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2017, 04:12:50 PM »
Holly,

I agree with Craig. In any event, you are unlikely to find the rated absorption value of a given flour in the U.S. because the majority of millers in the U.S. do not publish those numbers. However, if you inquire as to any given flour, the miller of that flour may provide the information. If you'd like, I can give you some rough guidelines as to the values for different basic types of flour--such as all purpose flour, bread flour or high gluten flour--if only for starting purposes, but you will most likely have to conduct experiments and tests to determine what will work best for you. My numbers would be based primarily on protein content and experience based on having studied hundreds of spec sheets for flours over many years.

Peter

Peter,

If you are willing to share what you've already spent time figuring out, I would be HAPPY to receive it.  Can you message it to me?   thank you SO much!   I just ordered GM all trumps high gluten flour (bromated) - so that's what I'll be working with .... once it arrives.

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Online Satyen

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Re: King Arthur Flour Absorption Rates
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2017, 04:37:01 PM »
Agreed. A basic absorption chart for various broad category flours would be very helpful. Thank you peter!

Online jsaras

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Re: King Arthur Flour Absorption Rates
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2017, 04:47:11 PM »
I've accumulated this over the years:

Flour Specs

King Arthur All Purpose - 11.7% protein, 60% water

King Arthur Bread Flour - 12.7% protein, 62% water

King Arthur Sir Lancelot - 14.2% protein

Pendleton Power Flour - 13.5% protein, 64-65% water

Pendleton Mondako - 12% protein, 60-62% water

Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour (Harvest King) - 12% +/- 0.3

Gold Medal Superlative - 12.6% protein

Trader Joes All Purpose Flour - 11.8% protein

Ceresota All Purpose - 12% protein

Con Agra Mello Judith - Protein 11.8%

Con Agra Occident - 12.4%




Scott123's NY flours (13-ish% is ideal)

Progressive Baker Spring King   13.2
ADM Commander   13
Conagra Magnifico Special   13
GM* High Power   13
Progressive Baker Spring Hearth   13
Conagra Producer   13.4
GM* Best Baker's   12.9
GM* Full Strength   12.6
Conagra King Midas Special   12.6
GM* Superlative   12.6
GM* XXXX Patent   12.6
ADM Majestic   12.6
ADM Springup   12.6
Conagra Occident   12.2
Bay State Milling Perfect Diamond   12.5?

*General Mills or Pillsbury or Gold Medal (all the same company)


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Online Pete-zza

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Re: King Arthur Flour Absorption Rates
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2017, 06:36:11 PM »
Holly and Satyen,

It is almost impossible to come up with a chart that solves or mitigates hydration issues. What complicates matters is that there are no standards as to what terms like all purpose flour, bread flour and high gluten flour even mean. So millers have a fair amount of latitude in designating their flours by type. For example, all purpose flour can vary all over the place in terms of protein content. For example, it can be as low as the 9% range whereas for pizza dough you may want to use over 10% for all purpose flour. Also, wheat crops vary from year to year and although millers try to come up with standardized formulations so that bakers don't have to worry much about the flours they use, there can still be variations that call for the bakers to test their flours before going into major production. And, if in a given year there is a lot of starch damage, that can affect the performance of the flour with the high levels of starch damage. Fortunately for us in the U.S., that is more of a problem with flours in other countries, such as Mexico. I might add that millers outside of the U.S. very often give recommended rated absorption rates for their flours in their specs. Caputo is a good example of this (see http://caputoflour.com/).

Having given the above disclaimers, my practice when using a new flour where I do not have a good idea as to its rated absorption value has been to use about 59-60% hydration for pizza doughs using all purpose flour, about 61-62% for bread flour, and about 63-64% for high gluten flour. Holly's All Trumps high gluten flour fall in the last range mentioned. However, the above percents can swing in either direction by a percent or two. Bakers know this so they usually test their flours before going hog wild with their bread products.

To the above, I would add that one source that does a pretty decent job of correlating protein content with absorption values is a document that was put out by Pendleton Mills. Pendleton is now called Grain Craft. After that change, the document referenced above disappeared from the Grain Craft website. However, I found it archived in the Wayback Machine. The pertinent part of that document is numbered page 5 at:

https://web.archive.org/web/20141109232607/http://www.pfmills.com/filebin/pdf/technical_informational_booklet_v1-opt.pdf.

However, I must issue a caution as to the above document. Pendleton lumps bread flours with high gluten flours. I would put the top four flours in the high gluten category (some millers call the lower ones in that category "premium" or mid-high gluten flours). The other thing I would add is that the Pendleton flours tended to have higher rated absorption values that similar flours from other millers. I once had a conversation with a Pendleton employee about the 65-68% absorption values for the high gluten flours, which I thought was very high, and he said that those numbers were correct because of the particular wheat grains they used to make their flours. 

A final point to consider is to take into account any oil in a dough recipe in calculating the hydration value to use. For example, if a formula hydration in a recipe has a value, say 63%, and a decision is made to add some oil to the recipe, for example, 3%, then the 63% number should be reduced to 63-3 = 61% since oil also has a "wetting" effect even though it does not hydrate the flour.

Peter

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