Why scald flour? It will give you a lighter loaf of bread that lasts longer! It might sounds like something that would hurt, but not at all. It’s simply pouring boiling water onto an amount of flour.
If you’re keen to make bread with a flour that has lower levels of gluten than wheat flour, for example rye, barley or buckwheat, scalding is the method to use. Not gluten free, but a method of adding these wonderfully flavoured flours into your bread. With this method, you can get a beautifully formed loaf. I find that the resulting bread has a light, even crumb, far lighter than if you had not scalded the flour. It also is more moist and keeps longer.
You might have discovered that using rye, barley or buckwheat make for a more solid, flatter loaf. This is a great solution.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to participate in the Kneading Conference in Skowhegan Maine as a work study volunteer. One of the sessions that has stayed with me the longest was led by Daniel DeRosier who is the owner of Boulangerie des Rosiers in Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot, Quebec. He demonstrated how scalding a percentage of flour, particularly flour with low gluten content, would result in a much improved loaf. It was a game changer for me. It was hard to believe at first what a difference scalding the flour made.
Now you can get the all the flavour of rye, barley or buckwheat (and many other flours) that are lower in gluten into your loaf easily. Adding hot water gelatinises the flour and helps with the conversion of starches to sugars.
You might be thinking, this sounds like Tangzhong where flour is cooked with water and milk and it is. Scalding is an even simpler process and is perfect for flours which have a great taste but are more difficult to use on their own due to their low gluten content.
How to scald flour
I typically replace 20% of the total flour weight with my desired low gluten flour. Porridge oats also work particularly well.
To scald the flour, simply pour over very hot water (if you’ve boiled the water leave for 5 minutes before using) using the same amount of water as flour and mix well (eg for 200 gr flour, you’d add 200 ml water). When it is completely cool you can add it to the rest of the dough. I always autolyse my dough, whether it is yeast based or sourdough. I add the cooled scalded mixture when I autolyse. Depending on the flour used, some goes lumpier than others so you might need to break it up into pieces as you add it.
What about hydration?
Once you’ve scalded your flour, you now need to think about how much water you’ll add to the remaining flour. After experimentation, I find that adjusting the hydration of the remaining dough by half the amount of water added to your scalded flour works really well. For example
- Total flour weight 800 gr (a mix of 80% white (640 gr) and 20% barley flour (160gr)
- The hydration for 800 gr dough is 70% = 560 ml
- 160 gr of the barley flour is scalded by adding 160 ml hot water and is mixed well. Rather than reduce 560 ml by the 160 ml used for the barley flour. I take away half the amount of water used to scald (80 ml).
- So I need to add 480 ml water to the remaining 640 gr flour.
When I add the scalded flour to rest of the flour, I have in fact used 480 + 160 ml water which is a total of 80% hydration. Read more about Baker’s percentages
Scalded Flour Recipe
The amount of sourdough starter in this recipe is correct, 40% of flour weight. You can of course adapt your yeast recipe to add scalded flour – use the same 20% as mentioned.
Barley Sourdough Bread
- Cast iron pan/ Dutch oven with lid at least 23cm wide
- Digital scales
- Dough scraper
- Stand mixer
- Large box to store dough in fridge
- 640 gr white bread flour eg Shipton Mill Organic no 4
- 160 gr barley flour Or other flour mentioned above
- 320 ml sourdough starter
- 640 ml water
- 12 gr salt
Scalding the flour
- Boil water in a kettle and let it sit for 5 minutes. You'll be using 160 ml
- Add the slightly cooled water to the barley flour and mix well
- Set aside until cooled. Check temperature is less than 30°C (86°F) before using.
Autolysing the dough
- Add the white flour to a bowl. Add the scalded barley flour breaking up into small pieces. Add the starter and 480 ml water. This should be about 22°C (71°F). Mix together and leave for 3 hours at room temperature.
Mix and Knead the dough
- Add the salt to the autolysed mixture and mix well. Using a stand mixer, knead until the dough reaches between 24° and 26°C (75° to 78°F). Start on a low speed for about 5 minutes, then increase speed to medium. The dough should come away from the sides cleanly. Check that the dough is elastic by pulling a lump gradually apart. Checking the dough temperature is very important. This will set you up for successful dough.
- Alternatively, knead for 10 to 15 minutes until smooth and the dough is stretchy. The dough should ideally be between 24° and 26°C (75° to 78°F)
First Proving at Room Temperature
- Move the dough to a large plastic box and leave it to prove for 3 hours at room temperature.
Fold the dough
- During the first proving, fold the dough twice. Imagine that the dough in the bowl has four equal sides. Using our dough scraper, pull up each side in turn and fold towards the middle.
Prove the dough in the fridge
- After 3 hours place the dough in the fridge overnight.
Shaping the dough
- Divide the dough into two equal portions and shape gently into a round. Leave 10 minutes. If you are only able to bake one loaf at a time, put one portion back into the box in the fridge. Then shape that one hour before your first loaf comes out of the oven.
Pre heat your oven and pan
- Pre-heat your oven to 230°C (445°F) placing your cast iron pans in the oven. Do this at least 1/2 hour before you intend to bake. If you are using a Rofco oven, pre-heating will take 1.5 hours.
Shape and Second Prove
- Shape your loaves a second time and either place them on a couche or in banettons for one hour. If your pan is circular, shape into rounds; if you pan is rectangular shape into oblongs
Prepare parchment paper
- Cut two strips of parchment paper as wide as the loaf and twice as long. You will put your dough on the parchment and place in the cast iron pan.
Transfer your dough
- After one hour, transfer the dough to the parchment paper. If you are using a banetton, place the parchment on top of the dough, then a cutting board and then invert it. If you are using a couche, use the pleat to tip your dough onto the cutting board then invert it onto the parchment.
Score the loaf
- Using a lame or sharp knife, score the loaf horizontally. with a shallow cut on one side half way between the top of the loaf and the bottom.
- Remove the pan from the oven and remove the lid. Put the loaf into the pan and close the lid immediately.
- Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for a further 10 minutes. Finally, bake the loaf for 5 minutes out of the pan. Let it cool before eating.