…if you’re in France.
Wait. I’m back in the states.
Ahem… A few things lead me to question this percentage of gluten in French flour:
1. There are FAR fewer “gluten intolerant” in France. Substantially less. Does this mean that they did not eat too much and therefore did not have an unbalanced digestive system for processing wheat’s protein?
2. Before I figured out that I had a gluten intolerance, I had lived and traveled in France, and eaten lots of bread. My digestive system? Amazing! In the duration that I was there, I had fewer food processing “issues” than I have ever had in America. …and I was eating MORE bread in France!
3. Their bread simply TASTES different. As many bakers will tell you, cooking with French and American flours is a completely different experience. Since there are many different factors contributing to the feel and texture of bread, namely the protein, sugars, ash, etc, gluten just had to be a factor.
After consulting MANY sources, it turns out that the biggest similarity between American and French flour is that they both come from wheat and both contain some sort of starch and protein from this wheat. Otherwise, factors such as “ash content” (minerals left in flour from the grain), gluten (insoluble protein), and starch are completely different. Where many French flours have as little as 8-9% gluten content, American flours will have 15-16%*.
What’s more, is that the French have two types of flour, “Hard” and “Soft”. The soft, used frequently for pastries and baking, has a minimum of only 7% gluten, and a maximum of 10.5% flour. King Arthur flour in the states has about 14%!**
For those Bubble Children with severe gluten intolerances or full-blown celiac disease, this does not, by any means, indicate that French bread is going to feel good to eat. However, for those with mild gluten intolerances, or willing to take the risk for a freshly baked croissant or luscious baguette, this might be some food for thought.
Interesting. When in Rome (France)…
*Source: Quaglia of the Instituto Nazionale della Nutrizione in Rome, Italy
**Source: Schunemann and Treu