Scalded flour bread
The scalding of flour involves taking aside a portion of the flour in a bread recipe and stirring very hot water into it. The flour starch is gelatinised in the process, and adding the gelatinised starch to the dough imparts different and special qualities to the fermenting dough and the finished bread.
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To be gelatinised means that it is made soluble, and in this form as a carbohydrate it becomes readily accessible to the yeast. The scalded material in the dough will give added plasticity to both the crumb and the crust, which is an important feature when making bread without much gluten, such as rye bread. This plasticity also makes the kneading of the dough much easier.
Moisture retention and shelf life
The most noticeable feature of scalded bread is that it retains moisture for much longer. Its “shelf life” may be improved by two days or more. The effect of gelatinising means that the starch is capable of binding more water to itself during doughmaking.
The effect of adding gelatinised (soluble) starch to the fermentation phase of the dough is that it speeds it up. If brisker fermentation is not wanted, the effect is then that less yeast will be needed, and it is always a good thing to be using less yeast. Fermentation is enhanced because the soluble, gelatinised material is “damaged” starch which must be present for the amylase enzymes to attack the starch and convert it to maltose, which in turn other enzymes will convert to glucose which is the class of sugar that the yeast needs to feed on. In the normal bread-making process the damaged starch comes from the destructive force of milling. With the scalded material there is simply more damaged starch added to the mix.
Whisking near-boiling water into wheat flour is known to do a certain amount of damage to the protein in the flour, and eventually, this damage impairs the amount and quality of the gluten that these proteins are capable of forming. This inherent damage to protein and gluten is probably the reason why flour scalding has never caught on in the wheat bread baking cultures, despite the marvellous retention of moisture. Scalding is more commonly found with rye breads, and sometimes with spelt.
How to make scalded flour
For rye and spelt my guide is:
- put aside about one-quarter (ranging from 20-25%) of the flour for scalding
- apply to it at least double its weight with the very hot water
Put it in a sturdy bowl and bring the boiling water to it, to be stirred in vigorously with a heavy spoon. It is an arm tiring task, and you must keep at it until it is smooth. It can wait to be applied to the doughmaking after an hour, or up to 24 hours. At around an hour check that it has cooled sufficiently to be usable without harming the yeast or making an unnecessarily hot dough.
More of my “rules of thumb” to apply when doughmaking for rye and spelt:
- have the weight of the new flour roughly the same weight as the total of the scalding
- remove from the normal amount of doughmaking water a little over half the amount of water used for the scalding. (If you failed to remove any at all the finished dough would be unmanageably sloppy. You must accommodate for the extra water that has gone into the scalding process).
If you enjoy putting some scalded material in a white dough made with strong bread flour, use only about 15% of the flour for the scalding, with twice its weight in the boiling water as usual.
I have carefully measured all the water that went into a small roll dough made with strong white wheat flour, including a small parcel of scalded flour that used 15% of the flour. One kilo of that flour would normally take 650 ml water to make dough of the correct softness. The total water that went into the one kilo flour mix with the scalding was 780 ml.
In Sweden, a recommended method is to make the rye scalding with much more water so that the gelatinised material finishes as a runny paste that has a twofold purpose: most of it is put in the dough, while the rest is used as a glaze on the rye loaves heading into the oven. To make this runny paste the ratio of hot water to rye flour is 4:1, even 5:1.
Good baking, Panarians.