The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Countries and Ingredients

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Syd-a's picture
Syd-a

Countries and Ingredients

Hi Everyone

Anyone following my last couple of posts have understood I would be away for while. Well, I have not quite made it into hospital yet, but very soon.

Anyway, that is not why I am here. I left England to return to Sweden and instantly have seen how different countries shaped by their cultures have simple access to different foodstuffs and ingredients. Now I have lived in several countries around the world so this is not a massive surprise, but being back in Sweden really has opened my eyes to the availability of so many different flours and seeds for bread making than in the UK. 

A typical UK shop has 4-6 different flours and seeds, but in Sweden we have 10-15, literally. From the whitest of white to the blackest of black and many whole grains and seeds to complement. I have also found 3 local mills with amazing organic flours milled and cheaply available. Now only if I was able to bake, sigh.

Anyway, my point/question is, What do you miss or have access to in your country that makes you happy/sad in your bread baking?

I hope to have some new bread to show off with my new favourite ingredients, but it will be a while

Take care everyone

Andy

MisterTT's picture
MisterTT

is my single favorite local bread ingredient! I think it's available in only some of Eastern Europe, for example as far west as Poland it is not very widely spread. There's also a good selection of local herbs and seeds (some very flavorful caraway). 

There are however, many things that I cannot get locally. The most "exotic" flour is spelt (priced quite highly, but I think it's expensive everywhere), and never have I seen anything like einkorn, emmer and so on. There is a nice selection of wheat flours, but it is wider in the pastry flour range, though you can get some nice 812D or 812C for rustic white flour breads if you search hard enough. The rye flour is excellent and going by pictures of rye flours that I've seen in books or TFL, its color is a couple shades lighter gray (I may be mistaken, have only seen photos after all).

Apart from very good local honey (don't care much for the taste even the best honey, though), there's not much else. Artisan bakeries and baking bread at home has not yet caught on here at all - I expect it will take at least ten years for people to be able to afford bread from artisan bakeries and for the bread bought there to kickstart some sort of local bread revolution.

Take care, Andy, hope your hospital stay won't be lengthy!

Syd-a's picture
Syd-a

Great input, thanks for your post.

I can agree with the Lithuanian rye malt, wonderful stuff It seems.

Here in Sweden we have great access to spelt at reasonable prices (though I think spelt is never a cheap foodstuff in its own right). Emmer is also widely and cheaply available and the different types of course and fine Rye flours mahe's my baking heart dance and sing. 

Grahams flour is also very easy to get hold of as ar a multitude of seeds and grains.

I will have to go to a normal shop tomorrfor and make a small list. 

On top of that, the local mills are excellent and really have so many different well priced flours.

Thanks for your kind words. I fear for a long time away, but we never know.

Take care and thanks again

Andy

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

The flours from the major South African millers weren't nearly as varied as those offered by the major U.S. millers.  For the most part, choices were "cake flour", a rough approximation of the U.S. all purpose flour but lower in protein, or "brown flour", which I suspect was a recombination of white flour and bran, sans germ.  Some were milled more finely and others more coarsely.

Then I found about about Eureka Mills.  They make excellent flours in a wider range.  During my time there, 2009-2011, they offered an unbleached bread flour, an unbleached cake flour, a brown bread flour, a whole wheat flour, cracked rye, rye meal, and whole rye flour.  The rye grain was imported but the wheat was locally grown in the Eastern Cape province.  All of them were excellent flours.  Their distribution wasn't quite so wide spread; I could usually find them in a couple of Spar supermarkets in the Pretoria area.

Seeds and whole spices were much easier to locate in bulk in South Africa than I can here in the KC area.  There were some limitations, though.  Dill seed was almost impossible to source.  Poppy seeds, on the other hand, could be bought by the kilo very inexpensively.  Whatever was available was usually very reasonably priced, compared to what was available in the U.S. at the same time.

Here in the States, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to flours.  AP flour alone can range from almost pastry-flour softness to bread-flour strength, depending on the miller and the location.  Bread flours can range up to 14% protein, which would have been unheard of in South Africa.  Cracked grains, meals, and multi-grain mixtures can be found in many stores or ordered on-line.  Some of these would have been very hard, or even impossible, to find in South Africa.

One food that I miss from South Africa are the little queenie pineapples.  Not much larger than a softball, they were locally grown and wonderfully sweet. 

I guess that each place has its strengths, and its products, that aren't necessarily matched anywhere else. 

Paul

Syd-a's picture
Syd-a

Thanks Paul

A very reasoned, encompassing and rational post on sourcing ingredients for bread baking. Making the best of what you have locally, either easily available in the shops or local mills (not everyone has those), is really something that can shape the kind of bread a person can make.

Personally speaking, Scandinavia speaks to me very well in the types of grains, flours and seeds available, but I know some "exotic" types may make me a little jealous when the bread making advances.

Happy baking

Andy

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Here in the US I get the finest bread flour, whole rye, whole spelt and whole wheat flour. But, though I was lucky to find a supplier for medium rye flour (in bulk) in Utah, there are no equivalents for German wheat type 1050, rye type 1370, and medium spelt flour.

Last week I was very happy to find Einkorn flour in our local natural food store, imported from Italy, but Emmer is not available, nor ancient rye (Waldstaudenroggen).

Thanks to Trader Joe I can now buy hazelnuts for a reasonable price. But my greatest gripe: no quark, and if I sometimes find it, at Whole Foods in Portland, it costs a fortune and doesn't quite taste right.

But if I were still living in Germany, I could not do what I'm doing here, selling breads I bake in my home kitchen. That weighs much more than those ingredients I'm missing.

Happy baking,

Karin