The Fresh Loaf

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Baking with La Milanaise Flours

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DonD's picture
DonD

Baking with La Milanaise Flours

Background:


I had read about the organic stoneground flours from La Meunerie Milanaise (La Milanaise Mills) in Daniel Leader's Local Breads and through numerous posts on TFL. I was anxious to try them so a few months ago as I was in Montreal visiting friends, I was able to bring back three 20 kg bags of their flours. I had to contact the US Customs to have their blessing before driving back across the border with 132 pounds of white powder.


I purchased their All Purpose T55, Sifted Flour #100(T70) and Sifted Flour #50(T90) Flours. All are Organic and the latter two are High Extraction and Stoneground. The # designation indicates the fineness of the sieve. The T designation indicate the percentage of ash content of the flour and is based on the european model of 11.7% humidity content as opposed to 14% for the US. There was a discrepancy in the ash content listed on the bags and the specification sheets that I got from the distributor so I contacted the Milanaise office and got a detailed explanation from Mr. Robert Beauchemin, the Company's CEO. He explains that there is always a variation in the mineral content of wheat from year to year depending on environment and growing conditions. The key is the degree of "cleanliness" of the sifting to allow a percentage of the epiderm layer and the aleurone layer of the wheat kernel into the flour. The epiderm is the darker and tougher outer layer whose ground particles act as knife blades damaging the structure of the gluten while the aleurone is the lighter inner layer which does not damage the gluten. Based on this variation in mineral content, the two high extraction flours that I got are essentially T70/T80 (73.6% extraction and 12.7% protein) and T90/T110 (81.8% extraction and 12.4% protein). It is interesting to note that these are high extraction but not high gluten flours as the protein level is about the same as white bread flour. The All Purpose T55 has 11.4% protein.


I have been baking some of my favorite breads using different mixes of these flours and have been extremely pleased with the results.


Observations:


The T55 flour is slightly darker color (light cream color) and grittier to the touch than the King Arthur AP Flour. The T70/T80 has specs of light color bran mixed in and the T90/110 is the darkest with bigger and darker specs of bran. There is no Malted Barley Flour added.


 Counterclockwise from left T55, T70/T80 and T90/T110 Flours


All three flours are not as absorbent as the KA flours and I always get a wetter dough using the same hydration. The dough consistently feels less sticky and is more extensible than KA. The dough also feels smoother. 


The breads are very aromatic during and after baking especially with the high extraction flours giving the crust a dark molasses, caramel, chocolate and roasted nuts fragrance . The crumb is always light, open and soft and the taste has a sweet, creamy and toasty wheatiness.


Samples:


 Baguettes au Levain using T55 Flour


 Baguette au Levain Crumb


 Pain de Campagne using T55, T70/T80 and T90/T110 Flour mix


 Pain de Campagne Crumb


Happy Baking!


Don

Comments

jombay's picture
jombay

Just curious on where you got them in Montreal and how much they costed. Thanks

DonD's picture
DonD

I bought the flour at 'Farinex' 3780 La Verendrye, Boisbriand, Quebec J7H 1R5, just outside Montreal. They are a supplier for bakeries but they also sell to individuals. A 20 kg bag costs around $30 canadian.

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

Your loaves are always beautiful and your description of the fragrance they give off while baking makes me wish I could try those flours. Great job.


weavershouse

DonD's picture
DonD

I do not know where you are located but there is a US distributor in Saratoga Springs NY if you are interested in trying the flour. Their website is www.HillcrestFoodsVT.com


 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I remember reading some posts about flour from Montreal...it has to be just sensational.  You've got some wonderful flours.  Your baking looks Gorgeous!  I can just taste that baguette too!  My aunt always tells me about the wonderful whole wheat breads her sister in law bakes when she goes to visit them in Canada.  I thought that was funny about all the white powder coming over the border!  Enjoyed all the information you collected, thank you, Don.


Sylvia 

DonD's picture
DonD

I am very pleased with the Milanaise flours but you have to get used to them because they behave differently than the flours that we get in the US. I have several batches of bread to make this weekend because we are buried in a snow blizzard in DC. 24inches on the ground and probably another 6 to 9 inches to go. Great time for baking and no need to hit the grocery store for bread like most people!


Don

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

you are safe and sound.  I saw news pictures those long lines of people waiting to stock up on bread and milk.  What a good time to try out your new flours!


Sylvia

rockfish42's picture
rockfish42

I'd love it if I had access to those flours, I'd be interested in seeing how they compare to Giusto's or Central Milling my two local mills in Northern CA.

DonD's picture
DonD

You can get the flours from www.HillcrestFoodsVT.com. They are the only distributor in the US.

bblearner's picture
bblearner

Hi Don,


Where can you find the ash content and the T55, T70/80 etc. information on their bag?  I can only note from the nutrition facts label that the protein content is 5g instead of a 4g for other brands.  I bought a 2Kg bag of the organic unbleached all purpose white flour when I first read your mention about this wonderful flour and made one loaf of bread with it and the result was a big failure.  So I decided to wait for your comments before I play with it again.  The amount of water suggested on the recipe on the bag seems to be less than 50%.  Will you advise how much water did you use with this flour?


Thanks, Enid

DonD's picture
DonD

I bought the large 20 kg bags that are sold to bakeries so the label on the bags has all the specifications listed. You can send an e-mail to www.info@lamilanaise.com and I am sure they will send the specs to you. Their customer service is very responsive. The T55 AP flour behaves differently than most US AP flours. It does not absorb as much water so I usually use 5% less water than if I am using KA AP flour. I have not seen the 2 kg bag but it seems like 50% hydration is rather low even for a less absorbent flour. For baguettes, I use 65 to 70% hydration with this flour.

JoeVa's picture
JoeVa

How vastly superior French type 80 flour is ... and you confirm this.


You show us how a good high extraction flour (french style T80) can bring the levain and the bread to a totally new flavor dimension.


Thank you Don.
Giovanni

DonD's picture
DonD

Keep us posted with your experiments using French high extraction flour.


Ciao,


Don

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

http://www.theartisan.net/Flours_One.htm


 


Gorgeous levain, Don! It seems you're spoiling friends and family by baking and sharing world class pain au levains...

DonD's picture
DonD

I am really sold on levain. By using different percentages and flour mixes, by varying the hydration, by altering the steps for the build you can get so many different flavor profiles it is mind boggling! There is just not enough time...


Don

DonD's picture
DonD

Thanks for the info.


Don

Matt H's picture
Matt H

Gorgeous loaves. Those would fetch a pretty penny at our local farmer's market.

DonD's picture
DonD

At the rate the economy is going, I may end up at a local farmer's market...

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Beautiful breads and write up. Did you add any malt to the T55 baguettes? The color looks great. I was looking at the importer in the flour section but I couldn't identify the specific flour you used.


Great post Don. Stay safe in the storm.


Eric

DonD's picture
DonD

I did not add any malted barley barley flour. I find that with the levain, I get good color. The flour importer does not have very detailed description of the flours but you can ask them for the All Purpose Unbleached White Flour (T55), the Sifted Bread Flour #100 (T80) and Sifted Bread Flour #50 (T110). They do not stock most of the flours but they will order for you from the mill. It is fresher that way.


The snow finally eased up tonight. 30 inches total in DC! More baking if I cannot dig my car out on Monday...


Don

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Your description of the flours, how they behave and so forth does make them sound much like what I've heard of French flours. Yet, I assume La Milanese uses Canadian flour, which I understand to be very high protein/gluten.


So, is the mill really able to fiddle with their process to get a French T55-like flour from Canadian hard Spring wheat? Or are they importing French wheat to Canada?


David

DonD's picture
DonD

For their Organic Flours, La Milanaise uses hard red spring wheat grown in Quebec. They do not import any French wheat. They also have an affiliated company that produces not quite organic but natural flours using wheat from Saskatchewan. From what I understand through their milling and selective sifting process, they are able to produce a consistent product that is close to the French specs.


When you use this flour for the first time, it can be frustrating because it behaves so differently than the US flours but once you get a hang of it, it is great.


Don

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

Hi Don


You mentioned that French flour needs less water, about 5% less you said.   But you also said for baguette you do 65 - 70% hydration, which also works for non-French flour, doesn't it?  So, is hydration required for French flour that different?


From your experience, do you also find French flour need less or more kneading, stretch & folds, in general, because of slightly less protein/gluten?  


And because French flour (is said to) have more intrinsic flavour of its own, do you find it requres less over-night or long retarding, compared to other flour, to achieve the same level of favourness?


Thank you.


Shiao-Ping


 

DonD's picture
DonD

Hi Shiao-Ping,


I must qualify that La Milanaise flours are 100% Canadian milled according to French specifications from certified organic wheat grown in Quebec province. I have never worked with true French flours so I have no basis for comparison except for published description of their properties and behavior.


Earlier in my baking life when I was using strictly US flour, I tended to use lower hydration for baguettes around 65-70% hydration depending on the recipe for ease of shaping and scoring but I have come to prefer a higher hydration around 70-75%. That is why I reduce the hydration by 5% to 65-70% when using the T55.


I find that with the T55, the dough tends to come together faster with less handling. By the second set of stretch and fold, the dough is noticeably less sticky and hardly adheres to the side of the bowl.


For baguettes using strictly all white flour, I did not detect much difference in flavor between the US AP and the T55. I just prefer the texture of the crumb of the T55.


I have made the same recipe of my Pain de Campagne au Levain using a US AP and WW flour mix and a T55,T80 and T110 flour mix. Hands down the high extraction flour mix is superior in terms of fragrance, texture and flavor.


Don

LaMilanaise's picture
LaMilanaise

Bonjour,


I had a very friendly email exchange with Don a few days ago regarding ash content on our flour; I mentioned to Don after visiting this site that I was very impressed with its content!


In response to some comments made, the wheat that we use for milling have been developped with us by local breaders. We use a blend and assemble our flours from 4-5 wheat strains well adapted to different bio regions of Québec: 2 average protein CWRS for farinograph stability, one low hardness (low absorption) wheat for extension, one low protein wheat that grows ideally in loamy soil and develops a thin cracking crust and a golden colour strain of wheat for a delicate aroma; a cafeteria approach to milling! We mill most of our products with specific designs and adapt the blends depending on the «terroir» where they come from. Our client base in Quebec are mostly artisan bakers of French origin who find it easier to adapt to our local blends than with regular western high protein flour. Milling wheat grown here in the east is always an interesting challenge that raises the main issue that many bakers tend to forget: bread is a living agricultural product that changes and evolves.


Merci de votre accueil généreux! 


Robert, le meunier

DonD's picture
DonD

Mr. Beauchemin,


Your explanation answered a lot of questions as to how can Hard Red Spring Wheat which apparently has a high gluten content be used for French style flours which has lower gluten content.


Vous avez de superbes produits. Merci.


Don

LaMilanaise's picture
LaMilanaise

In many varieties of wheat, the correlation of protein to gliadine-glutenine ratio is very low (ie protein % does not say much on a flour's baking performance); a 12% flour can obviously offer a totally different outcome than another 12% flour depending on wheat variety composition and where/how it was grown and how it was milled.


Regards,


Robert