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Buying flour in France - help

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cloud9's picture
cloud9

Buying flour in France - help

Hi folks,

I'll be driving through Northern France next week on the way to see the in laws, and don't want to miss the opportunity to buy French bread flour, especially T55. I'll be dropping into the nearest supermarket in Calais.

Given that I have no experience regarding which brands and types of flour are good and which to avoid I'd love to hear from anyone who can help me.

Keep baking!

cloud9

Xenophon's picture
Xenophon

between the brands if you purchase in a supermarket and stay within the same flour type (55 for bread indeed, it's the most frequently used one), just go middle of the road and avoid the really low prices.  If you want specialty flours you'd have to go see a miller but don't know if you have time to do so.  In Carrefour I like the 'Reflets de France' range but their home brand is not bad either.  Just make sure that you're not purchasing a mix (except if that's what you want of course).  

If it says anything on the package like 'Levure boulangère incorporée' it means that dry yeast has already been mixed in, not ideal if you want total control. 

 

If you want to bake whole-wheat then I'd recommend Type 110.

 

Bonne chance et bon appétit!

 

Edit: I'm in India right now but hail from Belgium, there I purchased my flour in a chain called 'Aveve', they sell many types, good quality.  I think they're also in France but you'd have to look for 'Biocoop', they have a site but it's in French.  If you pm me a couple of locations where you'll be I can check if there is one near bur staff are unlikely to speak English.  What's interesting is that they also sell larger packages at good prices.  I do my baking here with a 10 kg bag I brought from Belgium in my luggage last time (good bread flour in India is problematic, good thing I have a 70 kg luggage allowance and porters come cheap over here).

cloud9's picture
cloud9

Hi Xenophon. Great advice! Thanks.

My plan is to find the nearest supermarket to the channel tunnel before trundling along to the in-laws in Germany. I think I've found the main Carrefour in Calais, so just need to make sure I have the right map with me. I'll do as you suggest and take the middle of the road T55 as it's complicated (but not impossible via Shipton Mill mail-order) to get in the UK. I'll look out for the Reflets de France range.

I've had a look a Biocoop locations from Calais through Dunkirk towards Bruges, however the nearest one requires too much of a detour (Saint-Omer).

I'm amazed you can take 10kg of white powder on the plane without arousing suspicion. My work colleagues are currently amusing themselves with speculation of what happens if I get 'chosen' by the customs officials when I arrive back in the UK with 10+kg of flour. I hope the receipt will be enough :-)

Do Belgian breads generally revolve around T55 or do breads change in character and composition at the border?

Enjoy India.

cloud9

 

Xenophon's picture
Xenophon

you can't believe the stuff I've carried in my suitcases/bags since I've been living here (almost 6 years now), from flour to cast iron pots and too much European food to mention.  In Belgium the T-numbering system for flour is used less (though usually it is mentioned somewhere on the packaging) and you just have the standard nutritional  info as well as an indication for what purpose the flour is best used.  

The most often used type corresponds to T55 but -ironically- if you want to bake baguette or french breads then a flour with a slightly higher protein content is better, T55 is between strong bread flour and all-purpose flour.  Nowadays many people in Belgium bake their own with a premixed flour to which they just need to add water, dump it in a bread maker and hit the switch.  Take a look here (only in Dutch language, sorry), this is just the 'basic' range available at Aveve (the shop I mentioned):  http://www.avevewinkels.be/nl/thuisbakken/brood-bakken/classics.  Too bad you don't have time while passing through because I can attest to the quality of their products.

As for the types of bread eaten it's a bit different, the French are -rightly- enamoured with their baguettes, ficelles etc.  In Belgium you see a gradual shift toward whole-wheat breads, rye etc until you reach Germany,  that's rye and sourdough heaven.