This week I’ll be making baguettes with the Turkey Red wheat. This will also give me the opportunity to try some new things with our standard Baguette formula. Please come in and try the baguettes and let me know what you think!
I woke to an email this morning telling me that the Type 65 flour (the white flour)
I’ve been using in these Turkey breads is a whopping 9.6% protein! Ok, to put that into perspective high gluten flour would be around 14-15%, “bread” flour would be around 12-14%, standard AP flour around 10.5-12% and soft pastry flour 8.5-10%. Our beloved standard Oak 4141 AP flour, that we use in virtually all of our breads, has a spec window of 10.5-11.5% protein from the mill.
I’ve always heard about these super low protein flours making excellent bread, and it all comes down to the quality of the protein itself. I heard that some of the Turkey wheat was just that. Low, excellent quality protein. However, I was under the impression that it was all gone, and we had moved into a new lot of wheat that had higher protein levels, but not as high quality protein. An interesting problem for the baker. Neither are ideal, but now that I know this I’m wishing I could hang onto this stuff!
We don’t use any of the so called “high gluten” or “bread” flours in any of our breads. Long fermentation would turn that high gluten into dough with the consistency of a rubber band. Literally. By the time the dough gets to the table, you could almost bounce it like a rubber ball! They work fine in fast breads, but not like what we do. Low protein flour is kind of the opposite. You do need something there, and that is exactly why low protein flour works in cakes and pastries!
Knowing this explains alot about what happened yesterday towards the end of the fermentation on the dough. I was treating it like I normally would, and it just went too far. One of things I preach to my bakers is that the baker is in control of the dough, not the other way around. Next week, I’ll show it who’s the boss!
I’ve been in contact with Thom Leonard of the Heritage Grain & Seed Co. He’s been kind enough to correct me, and clarify what’s really going on with Turkey Red.
A little re-clarification: yes, the Stephenson’s have been growing Turkey for quite a few years now, but there’s is so little that it’s been inconsequential in the larger scheme. In a good year, they may have harvested a couple thousand bushels that often got sold at the local elevator — not into the organic pool. Those couple thousand are not even a drop in the proverbial bucket. An average 1000 acre wheat farm would harvest 40,000 bushels in an average year. I guess it’s true to say it’s been grown all along is accurate, but that it’s been blended is a bit of overstatement. I doubt anyone knew they were buying it and didn’t consciously use Turkey in their blends. Out of the nine million acres of Kansas wheat, maybe one to two hundred were planted to Turkey resulting in, at most, less than two one-thousandths of one percent of the total crop. Until we started doing this a couple of years ago none of it went into the organic market and none was identity preserved.
So there you go. It’s pretty cool to have something like Turkey available, and it’s been fun playing with it. Thanks to this flour, I’ve even been in contact with a customer of Seven Stars that has an 1800 acre family wheat farm near Marienthal, where Heartland is that mills the flour! His family doesn’t farm the land anymore, but it is a cool connection.
Now, lets just hope the bread comes out today. I kind of pushed the boundaries a little in the hydration on the dough, and it’s feeling very slack right now. Hopefully, it’ll pop in the heat of the oven, and come out nice. If not, we might have frisbees, and I’ll adjust for next week! Such is the nature of experimentation!!
I’m pleased. A few tweaks next week, most notably an increase in the “bolted” flour. This is cool stuff that exists somewhere between Whole Wheat and AP flour. It’s basically whole wheat with most of the bran removed, but the germ remains. I like to start with mostly white flour when using a new flour, because its generally easier to work with. Next week, the bread will be a bit darker and fuller tasting.
A few pictures from todays bake:
Close up the dough just mixed
I made batards and round loaves.
Well, not really. I’m very excited to have some heirloom “Turkey Red” wheat in the bakery, and I’d like to start playing with it. Long story short, wheat is wheat in that there is a ton of blending that happens both in the fields and at the mill to keep specs within a certain range. There are many types of wheat grown. The key for a miller is to blend all this wheat from near and far to give the baker a consistent flour within the required specs. Sounds great, but we have no idea what is really in that bag!
Turkey Red is an Heirloom wheat strain that the Heritage Grain & Seed Company of Lawrence, Ks. has managed to bring back from the dead with the help of a small band of farmers. They’ve worked hard to isolate the seed stock, and provide the baker an identity preserved wheat. The wheat is milled by Heartland Mill in Marienthal, Ks. where our whole grain flours come from. With any luck, more and more farmers will begin growing this wheat, and we’re all the better for it. According to Thom Leonard of Heritage, Turkey Red has been grown all along, but my understanding is that it’s been used for blending. This is a rare opportunity to try the wheat in its pure form.
Having this wheat available to the baker is similar to having a single origin coffee available to a roaster. This summer myself and Ian Cappelano, our production manager, will have the opportunity to stand in a field of Turkey Red wheat and ride a combine with the farmer that grew it. We’ll then be able to follow the wheat to Heartland Mill in Marienthal and watch it be milled, and finally end up in our bakery. What an opportunity!
I’m told that the flour is difficult to work with, but is very rewarding. For the month of April, all bread produced on Thursday afternoon by me will be made with Turkey wheat, but it may change slightly as I get used to the flour and make the necessary adjustments. It may be the same every week. It may not, but it will be made with Turkey Red! If all goes well, I may decide to use Turkey “full time” in my Thursday breads, and possibly move it into daily production in one way or another.
As of this writing, I know of only one other bakery in the Northeast using the flour, our friends in Middlesex, Vt., Red Hen Baking. Maybe, soon there will be two Northeast bakeries using it full time. We shall see!
Some related links for those interested in Turkey wheat.
As always, thanks for the support!