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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Not All Soy Flour is Alike

If you make many breads, especially breads from my site, you've probably seen a recipe that calls for soy flour. I use it in my raisin bread, potato wheat bread, and wheat sandwich loaf. Soy flour is used in bread recipes for a couple of main reasons: it improves the texture by helping the bread to hold moisture and it lengthens storage life. It also strengthens the dough, which can be important in breads with whole wheat in it so that you get a bit more volume. Additionally, it can contribute to crust browning.

The first time I bought soy flour, it happened to be Hodgson Mill's brand, and for years that was the brand that was always available and convenient. When I moved to Florida a couple of years ago, however, that brand was not as readily available, so I purchased a bag of Arrowhead Mill's soy flour. I was so confused when I opened the package and the flour looked so different! In the photo above, the Hodgson Mill's flour is on the left while the Arrowhead Mill's is on the right. Look at that difference in color. Not only did it look different, it smelled different! Worst of all, it tasted different. In delicately flavored breads, I could taste it, and I was not a fan! I couldn't understand why it was so different.

Then one day I finally found some Hodgson Mill's soy flour in a store again and brought it home. I got the other bag out and did a side by side comparison. The first thing I noticed was that there was a HUGE difference in calories and fat. Notice that even though the volumetric serving size is the same, the Hodgson Mill's flour (bag on right) has half the calories and zero fat compared to the Arrowhead Mill's soy flour? Hmmmm. I had to look farther.

Aha! There's the difference. The Hodgson Mill's is a
defatted soy flour. Once I did a little research, I came to realize that I had just gotten lucky with my initial purchase. When I started doing a little reading on using soy flour in baked goods, I found the articles usually referred to defatted soy flour.

The moral of this whole story is that you should be aware that not all soy flour is alike and one is better for baking than the other. I was not a fan of my wheat sandwich loaf using the fat-full soy flour because I could taste it in there, which was not my intent and altered the flavor in a negative way. In most bread recipes, soy flour is used more like a dough conditioner than a flavoring, so the defatted version is definitely preferred. Now you know!

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