The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

All things flour!!! ... Which is your favorite flour? Where to get it? Can/do you buy it in bulk... 10kg sacks?

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Blueladder's picture
Blueladder

All things flour!!! ... Which is your favorite flour? Where to get it? Can/do you buy it in bulk... 10kg sacks?

Hi Everybody,

I'm based in the UK and one of our big supermarket chains is called Tesco... I always buy the best premium flour they have which is usually Allison's extra strength bread flour or Hovis Super Strength premium bread flour.  These make an adequate loaf, which is tasty (as tasty as any in the shop!!) and has a good texture.  I'm really just talking wholemeal bread flour and white bread flour.

Two days ago I broke my rule!!!!!!

Tesco had sold out of the premium flours and I had to buy Tesco own brand strong wholemeal flour.  It felt gritty and didn't bind properly... the loaf is crumbly so has to be cut thick and has a very poor texture.  The taste lacks any subtlety or nuttiness and is only really fit for toast with lots of butter and jam.  My poor waist!!!

I'd be really interested what your favorite flour is for wholemeal and white bread (with your country as this is a worldwide site and the flours may not be available in all countries), whether you can get that in general stores or only specialist ones, whether you can or do buy in bulk and any storage difficulties.  I know there are loads of specialist flours but I'm really focusing on what the ordinary home baker might use.

Let's share the love on flour!!!!

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

It sounds like your recent loaf may not have contained enough water to be properly hydrated. Different whole wheat flours will vary in their capacity to absorb water. It's a live and learn kind of thing as we adjust to using different flours. Have you tried using a soaker for your whole wheat loaves? I find that soaking the whole wheat flour intended for a loaf at the hydration level of the final product helps bring about a subtle sweetness even with our hard red winter wheat here in the US. I've also had success with whole wheat flours when I used a 20-30 autolyse at the beginning of mixing. Doing so may mean I have to add an extra 10 ml of water or so but I've never had the Bread Police break down my front door for that action. Try those two things if you haven't already done so, they've worked for a lot of folks.

As for flour favorites, I'm all over the map these days. I use Wheat Montana's Prairie Gold quite a bit, have home milled bags of Montana Millings hard red winter wheat and hard white spring wheat, Dakota Maid Bread Flour, Hodgson Mill's Whole Rye, and some Heartland Mill Spelt as my current popular flours. I have a few other types as well just because I can buy them and did but they aren't "faves" at the present. Using different flours is like an artist using different colors from his palette the outcome for me being that I'm neither rich nor famous for my efforts, merely eccentric.

 

 

 

Blueladder's picture
Blueladder

Thanks... can you explain what a 'Soaker' is please?

 

 

Ruralidle's picture
Ruralidle

Hello Blueladder

Welcome to TFL, there are quite a few UK-based bakers around and about the forum.

I'm based in the UK and buy the majority of my flours from Shipton Mill http://www.shipton-mill.com/Home.html .  They do a good mail order service and delivery is free if you order enough (£30 worth).  I buy 16kg of their No4 Organic unbleached white flour about every 4 to 6 months and I like their (wholemeal and white) spelt.  They also do rye flours, 00 and French style T55 amonst many others.

jemar's picture
jemar

Ruralidle,  I am in the UK and have used Shipton Mill flours and like them very much, but I called at their headquarters to buy them, I have not used their mail order service.  While I don't mind buying in bulk to save the cost of delivering, I just wonder how to store that amount of flour.  Can I ask you how you store yours?  I use white and wholemeal and would like to buy other flours that they sell but only if I could use them up before they go 'off'.  I know I can keep some flour in the freezer, which I do with some flours which I don't use on a regular basis, but if I was to buy the 16kg. bags I wouldn't have room in my freezer.  I would be interested to know how you store yours.  

Ruralidle's picture
Ruralidle

Hello Jemar

I am too far from Shipton Mill to make collection worthwhile (although my daughter did collect for me once when she was visiting a friend in the village where the mill is located) so I try to order all my flours when I need a large bag on No4 white.  I get 4 months, or thereabouts, worth of spelt (I bake a spelt bread every week for my breakfast toast) as well as T55 for my baguettes and dark rye flour.  I then add some other flours as I fancy - but my stock control on these is not so good so I have some old ones that I really should get rid of :) .

As for storage, I keep them in my kitchen - which is quite large - in their original bags.  I really should buy some bins for the bulk flour that I have but I baulk at the cost ;) .  Generally, I use my bulk flour within 6 months maximum - I use Shipton Mill No4 as a part of the recipe in a lot of my breads and to maintain my wheat flour sourdough starters so I don't get many problems.  It is only the 1kg bags of more unusual (for me) flours that I buy "on impulse" that cause problems.  Wholemeal can go rancid quite quickly so I wouldn't recommend buying this in bulk unless you will use it within 3 to 4 months.  I, too, don't have the freezer space to store flour so it is not an option. 

I think the key is to buy no more than you can use within 6 months maximum.  Happy Baking.

jemar's picture
jemar

Thank you for that info, Ruralidle, I will take the plunge quite soon I think and order from Shipton  Mill by mail.  By the way I am in not too far from you, I think I read that you are in Shropshire, am I right?  I'm just over the border in Wrexham.

Ruralidle's picture
Ruralidle

I work (part-time) in Oswestry so that is even closer to you than where I live, which is near Newport - between Telford & Stafford.  We could, perhaps, arrange to share some deliveries if one of us is running short and the other is placing an order.  Do you use dried or fresh yeast?  I buy a block from The Bertinet Kitchen and cut it into 15g pieces.  I then wrap each piece in plastic wrap and put them all in a strong freezer bag and store them in the freezer.  One pack, when defrosted, is sufficient to raise 500g of bread flour in a lean dough.  I much prefer it to dried or instant yeast.

Blueladder's picture
Blueladder

Thanks everybody for all your comments - I had been hunting on the internet to buy bulk flour but A) Couldn't find anywhere and B) Didn't know how long it would keep... so all that's very useful!

As is the tip on different flours needing different kneeding and water (though I don't know what a soaker is?) - I've got two jobs and family so don't have much time to experiment as a hobby with mixing flours... but that's something to look forward to.  And maybe treat myself in holidays!!!

Also the yeast is a good tip!  I remeber my mum always used fresh yeast!!  I night bgive that a try depending on cost!!!

 

Merry Christmas xx

 

jemar's picture
jemar

I mostly make sourdough bread now which doesn't need yeast but when I do use yeast, I too prefer fresh yeast because that's what I used when I went on Richard Bertinet's day course and it resulted in excellent results.  I usually buy my fresh yeast from the supermarket (Tesco) where they will sell you an amount you need, or more if you want it!  Like Ruralidle, I portion it and wrap it well and freeze it.  I do prefer it when it hasn't been frozen though, I must say.  If you have a Tesco near you, go to the bakery counter and ask if they will sell you some fresh yeast, I am not sure whether they all do it.