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how to mix flours for your recipe

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Impossible to find flour for homemade bread or Panettone? You may often want to make a recipe that requires a specific flour but need help finding it at the supermarket.

In this article, I want to teach you how to mix flours. Also, I’ve created for you a straightforward tool to help you mix different flours (flours with different strengths) to get the right-balanced mix for your recipe.

The Strength of the Flour – The W index

The type of flour is critical to the recipe’s success because it is like the “foundation” to build the dough. One of the most commonly used indicators to describe the “strength” of flour is the W index, which is related to protein content (flour strength) and its ability to create the gluten mesh.

It is all pretty simple at the professional level because the W index is clearly indicated on the packages and the product data sheets; however, it can sometimes be challenging to recognize the type of flour available in supermarkets at home.

Generally speaking, each type of flour has its specific uses. Let’s look at them one by one:

Weak Flours: They have a W index between 90 and 180 and are characterized by a low capacity to develop gluten and absorb a small amount of liquid (less than 50 percent of their weight). These flours are ideal for making Shortbread, Biscuits/Cookies, and Breadsticks. How to recognize them? You will often find the designation “Cake flour” or “Shortbread flour.” Also, read the product label, and you will see that these flours have a protein content of around 8% to 9%

Medium Flours: These are characterized by a W value between 180 and 260 and are ideal for preparing Sponge Cake and Puff Pastry.  To recognize them, check that the protein content is around 10% – 12%.

Flours for Bread and Pizza: In this case, the W index ranges from 260 to 320. These are already medium-strong flours, with a water absorption of about 65% and an excellent ability to retain air during fermentations. You can find a protein content between 13% and 14% on the product label.

Strong Flours for Leavened Pastries: These flours are characterized by a W index of around 340 and 380, an excellent ability to develop a well-cohesive gluten mesh, and a good ability to retain dough fats. In addition, these flours can cope well with the acidity of Sourdough Starter. The Canadian Manitoba flour is at the end of the strong flours, characterized by a W around 410. Being very strong, I recommend using this flour to mix and strengthen weaker flours. You can make great Leavened pastries such as Panettone, Pandoro, and Colomba with strong flours or all leavened products that involve long fermentation.

So let’s see how to mix flours with different W indexes to get the desired W flour. Choosing flour with the correct W is undoubtedly better than mixing different flours, but life is about compromises!

How to Mix Flours with Different W indexes

To help you with this task, I have set up for you a straightforward automatic calculation in which you only need to enter 4 pieces of information:

  1. The W index of the flour you need for your recipe
  2. The amount (gr) of flour you need for your recipe
  3. The W index of the first flour you have available at home
  4. The W index of the second flour you want to use

Please note that this tool is set on GRAMS (gr). If you prefer to convert to another unit (lbs, cup), take the final result from the tool and then convert it separately.

This is also useful for…

The W index of flour is a quantity that can be summed, but there are many other quantities with this characteristic in Pastry.

For example, you can use the form above to

  • mix gelatin with different BLOOM GRADES
  • mix Chocolate with varying PERCENTAGES of COCOA (for example, if the recipe requires 60% cocoa dark chocolate but you only have 1 bar of 70% and another one of 50% in your kitchen cupboard)

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