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Sourdough (rec.food.sourdough) Discussing the hobby or craft of baking with sourdough. We are not just a recipe group, Our charter is to discuss the care, feeding, and breeding of yeasts and lactobacilli that make up sourdough cultures.

Flour, humidity and weather



 
 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 10-03-2008, 02:38 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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Posts: 325
Default Flour, humidity and weather

Hello all.

(I do not at any point want to discourage anyone from using either
cups or scales simply that we use them for the right reasons.
Knowledge is empowering after all.)

A discussion recently in another group about cups v scales, brought up
that flour and humidity thing.

Since I've noticed that it's only people that bake using cups that
ever mention this as a search on the internet confirmed, (one or two
who used scales mentioned it but their argument didn't make any sense
at all so I disregard it).

Well in the name of balance (no pun intended) I thought I'd see what I
could find for myself.

The weather here in London had been quite dry a for a week so I
expected the flour to be on the dryer side too.

I took a bag (paper) of flour and weighed it. I also weighed an inert
control weight.

I then put a large tray in the bottom of the oven, filled it with
boiling water and switched the oven on set to 40C.
I then put the flour in the oven and waited on hour.

After the hour was up the flour in 100% humidity had gained just 1.4%
weight and of course the control was unchanged.

I returned the flour to the oven and waited one more hour. This time
there was no change at all. So I returned the flour to the oven.

I repeated this for four hours with no further change.

I then returned the flour to the cupboard. The next day the weather
was very wet and the flour was just 0.5% above the starting weight.

So, it seems my flour absorbed only 1.4% of it's weight from the water
in the 100% humidity air at 40C. And just 0.5% when left in the
kitchen cupboard.

This really isn't significant in the slightest and I'd challenge any
home baker to spot the difference when they were mixing.

I put this to the people in the other group but they had all suddenly
lost their voice.

Again I'm not interested in discouraging people from using either cups
or scales they both have their uses fulfilling the different needs of
different home bakers. I just think we should use the method that
suites us for honest and real reasons, there's no need to invent
reasons for what we do in the kitchen. Because we are comfortable with
that way is enough.

Jim
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 11-03-2008, 12:31 AM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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Posts: 102
Default Flour, humidity and weather

Nice one Jim! You're very clever.
My friend says all the time: Water's very wet today when his dough his
slack. Or water very dry today when he mixes tight.
It's basically taking the micky of people blaming the flour for every
little problem
In most cases it's just incorrect weighing. and even with scales it's
easy to be incorrect enough to change the ratio.
That's why people must learn to adjust their dough every single time
they bake.

Very good experiment!
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 11-03-2008, 08:54 AM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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Posts: 325
Default Flour, humidity and weather

Thanks Vince. Water very wet, I like it. : -)

Cheers

Jim

On 11 Mar, 00:31, viince wrote:
Nice one Jim! You're very clever.
My friend says all the time: Water's very wet today when his dough his
slack. Or water very dry today when he mixes tight.
It's basically taking the micky of people blaming the flour for every
little problem
In most cases it's just incorrect weighing. and even with scales it's
easy to be incorrect enough to change the ratio.
That's why people must learn to adjust their dough every single time
they bake.

Very good experiment!


  #4 (permalink)  
Old 14-03-2008, 06:51 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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Posts: 3
Default Flour, humidity and weather

A dissenting opinion on the methodology of the experiment.

Your experiment determined the amount of water absorbed from the atmosphere
by a know MASS of flower. No attempt was made to measure the VOLUME. In
the cups vs. weight argument the point that is often missed is the
difficulty of the repeatability of the volume measurement. A cup of packed
flower will be more dense than a sifted one. Dipping a cup into a bag of
flower and scraping off the top does not account for the age of the flower,
its' hydration or if it was stored under another large sack of flower and
compacted.

It would be interesting to measure the change in volume as flower absorbs
moisture from the atmosphere. I would like to see the repeatability of
weights when a single person uses the same equipment to measure a cup of
flower. Then your experiment could be repeated using different conditions
of hydration.

Of course this is all nit picking unless one is attempting to communicate a
repeatable recipe to a stranger. When I attempted to decipher my mother's
recipe book after her death anything close to any sort of measurement would
have been wonderful.

A recipe for gumbo (that old woman made wonderful gumbo) went something
like:

Make a peanut butter colored roué.
Fry down a couple of links of Andouille sausage and save the grease.
Fry down a goodly amount of chopped onions and caramelize in the Adouille
grease.
Add the onions, celery and bell peppers to the roué and wilt celery.
Fill gumbo pot 2/3 full of water and bring to a boil.
etc -----

It worked for some one who had watched very closely what she had done, but
would be useless to transmit to a stranger.


"TG" wrote in message
...
Hello all.

(I do not at any point want to discourage anyone from using either
cups or scales simply that we use them for the right reasons.
Knowledge is empowering after all.)

A discussion recently in another group about cups v scales, brought up
that flour and humidity thing.

Since I've noticed that it's only people that bake using cups that
ever mention this as a search on the internet confirmed, (one or two
who used scales mentioned it but their argument didn't make any sense
at all so I disregard it).

Well in the name of balance (no pun intended) I thought I'd see what I
could find for myself.

The weather here in London had been quite dry a for a week so I
expected the flour to be on the dryer side too.

I took a bag (paper) of flour and weighed it. I also weighed an inert
control weight.

I then put a large tray in the bottom of the oven, filled it with
boiling water and switched the oven on set to 40C.
I then put the flour in the oven and waited on hour.

After the hour was up the flour in 100% humidity had gained just 1.4%
weight and of course the control was unchanged.

I returned the flour to the oven and waited one more hour. This time
there was no change at all. So I returned the flour to the oven.

I repeated this for four hours with no further change.

I then returned the flour to the cupboard. The next day the weather
was very wet and the flour was just 0.5% above the starting weight.

So, it seems my flour absorbed only 1.4% of it's weight from the water
in the 100% humidity air at 40C. And just 0.5% when left in the
kitchen cupboard.

This really isn't significant in the slightest and I'd challenge any
home baker to spot the difference when they were mixing.

I put this to the people in the other group but they had all suddenly
lost their voice.

Again I'm not interested in discouraging people from using either cups
or scales they both have their uses fulfilling the different needs of
different home bakers. I just think we should use the method that
suites us for honest and real reasons, there's no need to invent
reasons for what we do in the kitchen. Because we are comfortable with
that way is enough.

Jim



  #5 (permalink)  
Old 14-03-2008, 08:37 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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Posts: 325
Default Flour, humidity and weather

On 14 Mar, 18:51, "Paul Gilbert" wrote:
A dissenting opinion on the methodology of the experiment.

Your experiment determined the amount of water absorbed from the atmosphere
by a know MASS of flower.



Exactly that was the whole point. I'm glad I was able to communicate
that so well to you.


*No attempt was made to measure the VOLUME. ...


No exactly it wasn't the point of the trial.

Jim
...
  #6 (permalink)  
Old 14-03-2008, 11:14 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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Posts: 398
Default Flour, humidity and weather

In article ,
says...
A dissenting opinion on the methodology of the experiment.

Your experiment determined the amount of water absorbed from the atmosphere
by a know MASS of flower. No attempt was made to measure the VOLUME. In
the cups vs. weight argument the point that is often missed is the
difficulty of the repeatability of the volume measurement. A cup of packed
flower will be more dense than a sifted one. Dipping a cup into a bag of
flower and scraping off the top does not account for the age of the flower,
its' hydration or if it was stored under another large sack of flower and
compacted.



Having played with this, and been on both sides of the argument, I will
mention two conclusions I've reached.

The variability of volumetric measurement dwarfs every other souce of
error in the baking process (with the sole exceptions of stupidity and
human error). When a cup can vary from less than 100 to more than 200
grams, depending on how it is filled; and when scoopers have as much as
a 25% cup to cup variance.... the difference between all-purpose and
bread flour is dwarfed.

A number of flour industry studies have shown the multi-layer sacks used
to package flour in the USA do a very good job of maintaining the
moisture levels of the flour packed in them. (No Dick, that doesn't
mean they are water or vapor proof, just that they are sufficient to the
purpose.) And when the baker folds over the opening in the sack, they
still do a good job. The variation millers found when they tested
flours in various homes was quite small. It's been a while, but my
memory suggests the change in moisture content was less than 5%. And
that is a 5% change from the desired moisture content of 14%. So, the
moisture ranged from something like 13 to 15 percent. The change in
baking behavior would be negligible. Especially in the face of the
changes brought about by measuring by volume.

Mike

  #7 (permalink)  
Old 15-03-2008, 04:49 PM posted to rec.food.sourdough
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Posts: 325
Default Flour, humidity and weather

Wow, thanks for that Mike, so that really affirms what I found to be a
1.5% increase in weight from the moisture content that day. Had the
weather been dryer I might have seen up to 2% increase. Nobody is
going to notice that amount variability or more to the point care
about it.

Thanks for sharing that with us Mike.

Jim

On 14 Mar, 23:14, Mike Avery wrote:
... *And
that is a 5% change from the desired moisture content of 14%. *So, the
moisture ranged from something like 13 to 15 percent. *The change in
baking behavior would be negligible. *Especially in the face of the
changes brought about by measuring by volume.

Mike


 




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