Get to know your wholemeal flour

Gluten quality makes all the difference for good and healthy bread time after time.

Knowing the quality of your flour is as fundamental as following the recipe when making wholemeal bread of a consistent high volume and crumb structure.

In this issue’s film, Jan shows the big difference in bakery performance between three types of wholemeal wheat flour. What we need to do as bakers is put a finger on the difference before baking begins.

Quality in the protein
Analyses of flour quality typically focus on total protein content. In standard white wheat flour, a high protein content is considered a reliable indication of good quality. But the same rule of thumb does not apply to wholemeal flour.

The reason is that much of the protein exists in the flour’s bran content. While the bran proteins contribute to the flour’s nutritional profile, along with fibre and minerals, they have no influence on baking functionality. So a test that simply measures protein quantity in whole grain flour can be misleading.

Simple gluten analysis
In our bakery lab at Nutrition & Biosciences, we use a series of simple tests to evaluate protein quality. This involves looking specifically at the gluten, the composite of proteins that builds the elastic network responsible for dough strength and bread volume. Analysing the gluten gives a clearer picture of how wholemeal flour is likely to perform in bread-making.

Here are two of the most common tests:
  • Wet gluten
    Flour and a salt solution are mixed to make a dough. After resting for an hour, the dough is gently kneaded under a stream of tap water to wash out the starch and other soluble components.
    Eventually, only an insoluble mass remains – the gluten, which is then weighed and evaluated for extensibility.
  • Sedimentation
    Flour and a lactic acid solution are shaken together in a glass cylinder, causing the gluten to bind water and swell. The solution is left to rest and the speed of sedimentation evaluated. There is a positive correlation between slow sedimentation and relative gluten strength.

Fibre interference

Due to the water-binding ability of the fibre in wholemeal flour, the test results may be distorted by fibre interference. All the same, a better picture of flour quality will be obtained than from a purely quantitative assessment of protein content.

Consider the ash

Another important aspect to consider is ash content – comprising the minerals primarily located in wheat bran – which indicates the flour extraction rate. In principle, a wholemeal flour should have an extraction rate as close to 100% as possible, including all parts of the bran, germ and endosperm. However, this brings another challenge: the negative effect of bran particles on flour baking performance.

The ultimate flour quality test, of course, is to bake and look. In a small-scale bakery trial, all is revealed. 
With these test results in hand, the need to optimise your wholemeal bread recipe becomes apparent – enabling you to ensure consistent quality every time you bake.

Still in doubt? Talk to your miller or ask about the opportunities to conduct a flour analysis in our lab.

Related Issues

The challenge for the bakery industry is to find new ways to reach out to consumers. Many of the big brands are already taking the first steps. Their strategy is to appeal to the one thing that concerns Western consumers most – their health.
Sprouted wheat grains are enjoying a revival as a trendy and nutritious alternative to refined wheat flour. According to the Whole Grains Council, sprouted grains are even healthier than whole grains, which for years have been promoted as a prime source of fibre and other nutrients.
Bread prices have come under huge pressure in European markets where discount supermarket chains have revolutionised the retail grocery landscape in recent times. Along with the free-falling bread consumption that some markets face, this has created serious issues for industrial bakers.
Sometimes the inspiration for new bakery concepts comes when you least expect it – and least of all when attending a university seminar on brewing beer. Nevertheless, it was a story about ancient Mesopotamian beer that inspired our concept for a nutritious breakfast biscuit called bappir.
Market data from Mintel shows that new tortilla and wrap products accounted for more than 25% of all new product launches in the bread segment in 2015 – a figure that reflects several years of continuous growth. Wraps are particularly popular among younger consumers and consumers on high incomes.
Every balanced diet needs a good portion of carbohydrates. The recommendation of the European Food Safety Authority is that carbohydrates should account for 45-60% of our total energy intake.
If you don’t want your bread products to compete on price alone, you’ve got to focus on quality – and tempt consumers with a good taste, health benefits and an artisanal look.
Satiety is the new word in lifestyle weight management. We’ve been exploring the consumer trends behind some of today’s bakery opportunities.
A growing number of studies show consumers stay fuller for longer and eat less after a fiber and protein-enriched snack.
Jan Charles Hansen and Joern Gravgaard explain why baked nutrition bars are a good opportunity, how to make them and what to add to get healthier products with a great taste and texture.
The popular nutrition bar is now a good business proposition for industrial bakers.
On-pack health and nutrition claims are strictly controlled in the EU. Here’s what’s possible.
Wholemeal and protein are a difficult combination in industrial bread. An unexpected solution can make it work for the weight management market.
Biscuits and muffins may lead to fewer daily calories if they are a source of protein and fiber. We look at the recipe issues and how to overcome them.
New opportunities are shaking up old perceptions of high-fibre wheat bread as a heavy, compact phenomenon that belongs to the niche health segment. Today it is possible to make nutritious 100% wholemeal bread that meets all the quality expectations of the mainstream market.
Consumers know fibre is good, but not always how to get more of it in their diet. New fibre breads could make the difference.
If consumers are reluctant to change their habits, you have to work with the habits they’ve got.
Replacing gluten is easier said than done, but progress is being made.
Does a super fruit have the muscle to strengthen bread dough? We take a look.
Jan Charles Hansen describes how a new enzyme complex makes softer, bigger wholemeal bread with a cleaner label.
Whole grain alternatives to wheat open doors to high-fibre bread that consumers will notice.

This page is currently undergoing development. Please connect with us at

/content/dupont/amer/us/en/nutrition-biosciences/contact-us.html /content/dupont/amer/us/en/nutrition-biosciences/references/corporate-contact-us.html /content/dupont/amer/us/en/nutrition-biosciences/references/subscribe.html