Flour’s Protein Content and Particle Size Affect Cooking

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In this article, we will consider how the protein content and the particle size affect the cooking.

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Udon and Ramen

In general, medium-strength flour, plain flour is used for udon noodles and semi-strength flour for Ramen.

If you use light flour for making these noodles, not much gluten will be formed and the noodles will lack firmness. On the other hand, if strong flour is used, gluten will form quickly and the dough will become hard. This makes it impossible to knead the dough sufficiently, resulting in noodles that lack firmness and break easily. Medium and semi-strength flours have more protein than light-strength flours and less than strong flours, so they are easier to knead and produce firmer noodles.

The particle size of the flour will also affect the firmness of the noodles. It is thought that the smaller the particle size, the shorter the time to gluten formation. However, an increase in the amount of damaged starch can also result in sticky noodles. As for the particle size, there seems to be no general rule that smaller or larger is better.

Pasta

In Italy, the home of pasta, it is compulsory to make dried pasta using durum semolina flour. (*1) Durum semolina flour is a type of flour called semolina flour, made from a type of wheat called durum.

Durum wheat, also known as macaroni wheat, is suitable for making pasta. It contains more protein than regular wheat, which makes it easier to form gluten and makes it firmer.

Semolina refers to flour that is coarser than regular flour, especially made from durum wheat. It is yellowish in color, which is where our image of dried pasta comes from.

Durum wheat contains about 11-14% protein (*2). This is more than the strongest flour on the market, so if you make the particles too fine, they will become too hard during the kneading process and you will not be able to knead them well. Of course, the coarseness of the flour also has a bearing on the texture of the finished product. The reason why a coarse semolina is used may have something to do with the ease of gluten formation.

Also, fresh pasta is often made with bread wheat, or general wheat flour (*1).

Bread

Bread is one of the dishes that is most sensitive to protein content and particle size. It mainly changes the texture and the way it puffs up, but it is a bit more complicated because both the protein content and the particle size have a big impact.

First of all, using more light flour will make it fluffier, while using more strong flour will make it glutinous. This is because the stronger the flour, the easier it is for gluten to form. This means that if you use light flour and strong flour with the same particle size, the light flour will puff up more easily.

The size of the particles also plays a role here. Smaller particles have the tendency to form gluten more easily (*3), so smaller grains will have a packed, chunky texture, while larger grains will have a fluffier texture.

Flour sold in Japan generally has a finer grain for light flours and a coarser grain for strong flours (*4). As you change the amount of protein, the coarseness of the grain also changes. Therefore, it is difficult to say which is the best. One of the best parts of baking is experimenting with different formulas and finding the one that works best for you.

Pizza

Semi-strong or strong flours are often used for pizza dough. Since pizza requires a lot more water than noodles, you don’t have to worry about the dough becoming too hard to knead.

Strong flour will give you a chunky texture, while light flour will give you a fluffy texture. However, the thickness of the dough and the way it is kneaded will also affect the texture, so it is difficult to discuss the type of flour alone.

If you want to recreate the crunchy outside and glutinous inside of the dough like in a restaurant, I recommend using no-knead pizza dough. This recipe uses no-knead campagne dough, and I really like it because you can make an authentic pizza just by leaving it out.
No-Knead Pizza Dough From Quick Rise to Sourdough
No-knead pizza dough can be made with quick rise or long fermenting to sourdough, depending on the amount of yeast.

Tempura

Tempura is all about the crispy texture. In tempura recipes, there is a warning that you should always use light flour and do not over mix. The purpose of using light flour is to prevent moisture retention, and not mixing it in prevents the formation of gluten.

However, it is not a problem if you use light flour. There are a lot of tricks out there to make tempura crispy. What we can see here is that it is difficult to make tempura crispy at home just by using light flour to prevent moisture retention and gluten formation.

There are various tricks to do this, but my recommendation is to use potato starch. You can make crispy tempura not only with light flour, but also with strong flour.
Crispy Tempura with All Types of Flour
You can make crispy tempura with any types of flour! Just add potato starch, and the tempura become crispy. Easy and no-fail tempura recipe!

For other fried foods, such as karaage and fried chicken, you can make them with any flour, although the texture will vary.

White Sauce, etc.

For white sauces and other dishes not mentioned above, the amount of protein and the particle size will not affect the outcome of the dish much.

If you have any suggestions on how this dish did not turn out, please let us know.

Cakes

Cakes, like breads, become fluffier when more light flour is used, and stickier when more strong flour is used. The larger the particle size, the bulkier the cake, and the smaller the particle size, the more packed the cake will be.

Cakes with a relatively firm texture, such as pound cake or fruit cake, may not be affected as much. However, if you are making a cake with a fluffy texture such as a chiffon cake, this is a point to consider.

Cookies

Cookies are mainly affected by the texture. The higher the protein content, the easier it is for gluten to form, which results in a stronger crispy or crumbly texture.

Categories of Flour in Different Countries

The above is a discussion of the effects of protein content and grain size of flour on cooking.

Also, the way flour is classified in Japan and Finland is different. It seems to be different in the US and in other European countries such as France and Germany. This article summarizes the details.
Flour Classification in Japan, Finland, USA, Europe
The way flour is classified differs by country. Here is how flour is classified in Japan and Finland, also in Europe U.S.

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