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Welcome To The
20% Bran
Flour Test

Disclaimer - Before we get into the test, it's worth mentioning that we are not connected with any flour vendor mentioned on this web site. We can't tell you where to find any of these flours outside our own home town, and we have no idea why the vendor discontinued your favorite flour, or why your favorite recipe is no longer on the back of the package. And now... here's the review of this flour.....

Where we bought it: We didn't buy this flour, we made it. I guess this requires a bit of explanation. In "Bread Alone" Dan Leader suggests we use 20% bran flour, as that is more like European flours. He mentions several flours that are 20% bran flours, and also comments that if we can't find a 20% bran flour locally, we can make our own by mixing 3 lbs of all-purpose or bread flour with 1 lb of whole wheat flour. We mixed 6 lbs of Safeway's Unbleached Flour with two lbs of Hungarian High Altitude Whole Wheat flour. The result was a slightly creamy colored flour.

Since this test, we've decided that keeping a separate bin of 20% bran flour at the ready is more trouble that it's worth. This is in keeping with our impression that Mr. Leader sometimes goes out of his way to make his, and our, lives more complicated than they need to be. Instead, we have been modifying our recipes, or formulas, that had been using 20% bran flour to use 80% unbleached white flour and 20% stone ground whole wheat flour. Our lives have been simplified, which is often a good thing.

What we paid for it: Well, the Safeway Flour was $0.89 for 5 lbs, and the Hungarian High Altitude Whole Wheat was another $1.49 for 5 lbs. So, that works out to.. lessee... where's the calculator.. oh, yeah... $1.04 for 5 lbs.

Protein content: 11%

Interesting Vendor Story: Not this time.... just go read "Bread Alone"

Our first impressions: It was, not too surprisingly, like a mix of whole wheat and white flour. It took a while for the flour to become hydrated. But it handled well.

Any special reason we're testing this flour: We're still playing with flours to try to make the best bread we can. We'd hate to ignore an easy way to make better bread.

How'd we screw up the tests this time? *sigh* Some days we should just stay in bed! We forgot to slash the Simple Sourdough Pan Bread when we put it in the pan, so when it rose, the dough tore. Further, we didn't take a picture of the Simple Sourdough Pan Bread by itself and uncut. Finally, we were called away to visit a customer site while the Ciabatta was rising, so it over-rose in the mixing bowl, and then didn't rise quite far enough once it was poured out.

Conclusions: We liked it! We may well try this experiment again with a white flour we liked better than the Safeway Unbleached Flour, perhaps Morrison's Peter Pan Flour. We liked this flour enough that we made several batches of other breads with it, as well as two batches of Sourdough King Cake. It did everything we asked it to do well.

The Breads
20% Bran Flour Family Portrait

Bohemian Rye The Bohemian Rye was very memorable - 20% Bran Flour Bohemian Rye Bread the aroma was a wonderful blend of a good sour smell, strong caraway, rye and wheat. The aroma was complex and inviting. 20% Bran Flour Bohemian Rye Bread The crust was thick, chewy, and rich. It had good rye and caramel tastes. The crumb was light, with irregular small to medium sized holes. Sadly, we yet again made the dough too dry, so the crust separated from the loaf. The crumb had an excellent complex taste, it was rich, deep, and deeply satisfying. Very nice!

Ciabatta remains one of our favorite fun breads. 20 percent bran flour ciabatta When this loaf comes out of the oven, it's all I can do to keep the family at bay long enough to take its picture. 20 percent bran flour ciabatta This time, the bread rose too long in the mixing bowl, and then it didn't rise enough after it was poured out onto the baking sheet. As a result, the crumb was tighter than I'd like. A pity, but it didn't keep us from eating it with gusto - and olive oil. The aroma was more sour than most of the ciabatta's we've made, and we're not sure if this is because of the whole wheat flour in the 20% bran flour, because of the longer rising time, or both. We suspect "both" is the correct answer. The crust was nicely browned, thin, pliable, and chewy. The sour taste even extended to the crust! The crumb was, as mentioned above, tighter than usual with smaller holes. It was springy, had a strong sour taste, with a slight wheat flavor. In the end, we decided it wasn't a very good ciabatta, but it was a good bread.

The Sourdough Pan Bread we make keeps delighting us, and the batch made with the 20% 20 percent bran flour simple sourdough pan bread bran flour was no exception, despite having made the dough slightly too dry, and not having slashed the crust when we formed the loaf. When the loaf rose, it tore slightly. A pity, but it only detracted slightly from the loaf's appeal. The aroma was nicely sour, with a good balance of wheat. The crust was not very thick, but quite crisp. It was also nicely browned, which is quite uncommon for this recipe. The crust had nice caramel notes in it. The crumb had a soft, springy texture, with nicely irregular small to medium sized holes. The crumb had a cream/tanish color to it, and a very deep rich taste with lots of sour and wheat. A very nice bread!

Our Three Stage French bread is a subtle bread, and one that we enjoy very much. 20% Bran Flour Three Stage French Bread This time, the bread was especially good, from our first sniff of its aroma. 20% Bran Flour Three Stage French Bread It had a good sour aroma, with a strong wheat smell. The aroma was very inviting, and we were ready to be invited. The crust was moderately thick, nicely browned, and somewhat flexible. The crust's taste had some nice caramel notes in it. The crumb was irregular with small to large holes in it, with larger holes at the top of the loaf. There was some crust to crumb separation in the loaf, perhaps the dough had been just a bit too dry.... or perhaps we should have slashed the loaf. The taste delivered what the aroma promised, a rich, complex loaf with a good sour taste. The Three Stage French is often not very sour, but this loaf had a nice sour touch to it. Very good!

Hydration Pictures As discussed, we took pictures at 60, 80, and 100% hydration. This flour did absorb water nicely, and it did seem wetter than many flours at the same hydration, but it took a bit longer to get there. It wasn't quite as forgiving as the Safeway Unbleached Flour it was partially made from.

20% Bran Flour at 100% Hydration
20% Bran Flour
at 100% hydration
20% Bran Flour at 80% Hydration
20% Bran Flour
at 80% Hydration
20% Bran Flour at 60% Hydration
20% Bran Flour
at 60% hydration