The Fresh Loaf

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Flour Quality UK - Cost - Confused

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Jezella's picture
Jezella

Flour Quality UK - Cost - Confused

I am newish to bread baking and in all honesty started to bake my own to save cash. Since them it seems to have become an edible hobby. Still, the cost of flour I shall consder in the future.  I notice a big difference between flour prices and can't see the reason for this. Please help. If I am to consider say perhaps the difference between Allinson flours and Doves farm and Hovis and to take this further, organic also, what is the difference and in particular when using white flours. Is the difference in cost worth it. Also, what about the store labeled flours from Sainsbury, Tesco and Asda? Are these good?

jemar's picture
jemar

I am in the UK and make my own bread, sometimes in my bread machine but more usually nowadays I make sourdough loaves by hand.  I have used many different brands of bread flour, buying what is available in the supermarkets, which is usually Hovis,  Allinson's, and own brands, such as Asda(not very often) and Lidl's.  I have been quite pleased with the flour from Lidl's, it has a high protein content and seems to perform well, in my opinion.  But I am not an expert on breadmaking, I just enjoy making it and eating it even more!  I think you would have to be a connoisseur to notice the way different brands bake up, I have used Shipton's flours and Lidl's, a big difference in price but not that much, if any, difference in the finished results, in my humble opinion.  I think more difference can be detected in the way the bread is made not what is used.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Hi,

here in italy recently the flour sold by Lidl has changed. Now it's produced in Germany and lists 10% proteins content. Is it the same as yours? If so, how much water does it drink?

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

and a Baguette dough at 70% hydration was easy to handle.

(The packet listed Vitamin C as an ingredient.)

I hope that helps,

Juergen

Jezella's picture
Jezella

I have not tried Lidl flour but from reading on the web, so far I have not seen any complaints.

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

I am not in the UK, so I can't speak specifically to those types of flours that you have available to you.  Here in the U.S., I have found a difference between flours with respect to how they behave in recipes, how consistent they are batch to batch, and, most of all, taste.  I tend to buy the ones that produce the most flavorful breads.  There are others on this forum that can elaborate on the different methods of milling the grain, which can influence the final bread result you get.  I think, for example, stone milled flours tend to keep the grains cooler during the process, keeping more of the flavor compounds intact. 

-Brad

 

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Hi, 

I live in the UK. 

Lidl's bread flour perfporms very well - it's easier to make baguettes with it, for example. And the price is extremely good.

However, I find that the stonemilled organic flours from Shipton or Bacheldre produce a more tasty loaf. I order in bulk (25Kg sacks) - Shipton have an online shop, Bacheldre via Amazon. The price per Kg is around GBP 1, including shipping.

I also like Waitrose's range of flours

Juergen

 

lumos's picture
lumos

I also live in UK.  I can't claim I'm an expert on UK flours, but I do think it does make a difference, both on flavour/aroma of the resultant bread and in performance of the dough. 

I'd been using Shipton's flour for a few years VERY happily because of its taste and reliability, performance-wise....until one day I had a really terrible flour-bug problem.  Since then, I've been using the flour that I can easily buy from my local source (like, supermarkets....:p) in a small quantity.  My regular wheat flour is from Waitrose, Strong flour and Plain flour from their Leckford Estate range and Waitrose Organic Wholewheat flour. I also use their Very Strong Canadian Flour for bagels and other bread that needs high-gluten flour. I temporarily switched to Waitrose Organic White Strong flour, thinking organic flour could be better for sourdough, but it didn't make much difference in that department and also found Leckford flour produced bread with better aroma, so I switched back to it quite soon.  

I also use Dove's strong flour, which I like, too.  But it's slightly weaker flour than Waitrose's ones, so you'd need to develop gluten a bit more carefully with it. I've used Marriage's organic flour once, too, by a recommendation by someone, but I found it is slightly more brand than Waitrose's Leckford's.  Actually Marriage's Mill has been milling all the Waitrose's own bland flour for several years now, as well as their own, so I rang them a while ago to ask how they are different/similar.  The miller told me the specs of flour for both are very, very similar, almost identical, but I still found Leckford's flour have  slightly better flavour and aroma, so maybe it's to do with different kinds of wheat they use. (Leckford's wheat is grown on their own estate and it's flour blended with Canadian wheat for improved strength)

I've also been lucky to get my hands on several kinds of flour from some small-scale, independent mills, thanks to my very generous and kind friends (including Juergen above. :).  Each one of them tasted, smelled and performed differently. 

...... not sure if it helped you at all (or managed to confuse you even more...?;), but it's just my 2 pence.  I do think which flour to use make a difference.  You'd just need to try many brand and find the one you like. 

 

jemar's picture
jemar

Reading through these answers to Jezella's query I am convinced she will be even more confused than she was before she put her questions!!!   We all have  our own tastes and favourite flours, so what it boils down to is trying out various brands and forming your own opinion.  She asks whether the supermarket own brands are any good.....  well, they are not that bad,  and if cost is a consideration I would use them, at least try them to see what you think of them.  I would compare it to starting on any hobby, for example, when I was learning to knit, (a long, long time ago!)  my mother bought me basic wools that didn't cost much, to learn the stitches and tension.  The same when I started dressmaking, I didn't buy fine fabrics to start with, I used reasonably priced materials to practise on.   When you have mastered the technique of making a good loaf, then try out the different flours available to you and see which YOU like best.  I hope this answers your question, or at least helps.

Jezella's picture
Jezella

Thank you Jemar. I think our posts crossed on time. Yes I have become more confused but I suppose that's part of learning. I agree with what you say about the flours as seen below. Thank you.

Jezella's picture
Jezella

May I thank all the above for their comments and I can see that much is to do with personal opinion. As I mentioned above, I'm relatively new to bread baking on a regular basis where TFL has been very helpful if not confusing on occasions. I had no idea how much was involved though I sure I'm learning well. 

So far I have used Hovis and Allinson, both white bread flours and now those that a labelled strong. In the case of Hovis, My results were poor, though I'm sure, this was due to my lack of ability. 

I suspect that in some cases, cost is to do with name and also, quality will come into it to some degree. At this time I am left with the feeling that good tasting bread is much more to do with how the loaf is made. In my case, sticking with the same flour, results have been very varied depending on my technique. As of late, all are edible and I'm sure that the real secret is practice or so than the actual flour.

I think that given time and a greater understand of each flour type, will aid in my overall understanding of various breads in general. Thank you TFL members.

Azazello's picture
Azazello

Waitrose branded flours make very nice bread - the extra strong Canadian white and wholemeal are really good and are inexpensive.

I've not tried other supermarket branded flours. Allinson's I've found to be OK.

Like others, I can recommend Shipton Mill. Flour Bin sells some nice flours too.

The thing is really just to find something you like and use that.