To the editor
March 01, 2000
by Emily Wilson
Thanks to very attentive readers of your journal, a mistake in my article, "Flour Treatment in Europe," has been discovered.
When enzyme activity in wheat flour is low, the falling number is high and vice versa. As most readers might know, the falling number assay is a kind of viscometric method, measuring the falling time of a piston through a heated wheat flour slurry. The viscosity of the slurry decreases with increasing enzyme activity in the flour due to the degradation of the gel by the enzymes, and hence the falling time is reduced.
I'm glad that the error has been found so quickly. This offers the opportunity to further elucidate a field where very often misleading information is given.
Could you please include a brief ‘errata' in the next issue, mentioning that the sentence should have read, "If the falling numbers are very high … up to 150 g of malt flour may be needed to bring the falling number into the range of 250 to 300."
If the falling numbers are very high, (i.e. the flour's own enzymatic activity is very low) up to 150g of malt flour per 100 kg of flour may be added to bring the falling numbers in the range of 250 to 300.
Adding malt flour reduces the falling number. Falling numbers on wheat flour can be as high as 650, but for European wheats, I would consider above 350 as very high. The ideal for baking is generally 230 to 260. (When starch damage and water absorption of the flour is high, the falling numbers should be higher)
With falling numbers around 300, no more than 50 g should be added to prevent the dough from becoming sticky.
Nevertheless, it is an interesting article.