What is Vital Wheat Gluten and what does it do?
Vital wheat gluten is powdered gluten from the wheat plant. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and responsible for the elasticity of dough. The more gluten protein a dough has the more elastic the dough will be. The elasticity allows the dough to be stretched and rise with large air pockets. Vital wheat gluten is harvested by washing wheat flour with water until the starches of the wheat have been washed away leaving only the gluten protein. Remember that even though vital wheat gluten looks like a flour it is not and will not behave like flour.
Vital wheat gluten is added to flour to increase the amount of gluten protein available in the mixture to improve elasticity and rise. This is especially useful when dealing with 100% whole wheat flour as even though whole wheat flour typically contains a high percentage of gluten protein not all of the protein is dissolvable in water, like in white flour, thus adding extra vital wheat gluten will give you a dough that reacts similar to a white flour. Gluten can also be added to white flour to boost the protein content in cases that the protein content of the flour you have isn’t enough the loft you want out of a baked bread or to stretch a pizza dough really thin.
How much Vital Wheat Gluten Should You Use?
This depends on your flour and what you intend on using it for. First you need to know how approximately how much gluten protein is in your flour. If you don’t know exactly use the general guides below. You should avoid going much over 15% gluten protein in a dough.
Percentage of Gluten in Various Flour Types
Hi Gluten Flours: 14 – 15%
Bread Flour: 12.5% – 13.5%
All Purpose Flour: 10-12%
Pastry Flour: 9% – 10%
Cake Flour: 7%-9%
Vital Wheat Gluten: 75%
Formula for Increasing Gluten Content of Flour
1.33 gram (1/4 teaspoon) of vital wheat gluten per 100 grams (4/5 cup) of flour will increase the gluten protein content of the flour by 1%.
Thus if you have all purpose flour and want to increase its elasticity to that of a high gluten flour then you need to increase by approximately 4% and would want to add 5.3 grams of vital wheat gluten per 100 grams of flour. If you are measuring flour by cups that would be approximately 1.5 teaspoons of vital wheat gluten per cup.