The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Blueladder's picture

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

December 14, 2012 - 7:34am -- Blueladder

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!!!!!!

jarkkolaine's picture

In the beginning of the fall, I took my boys with me on a small trip to Vääksyn mylly, a small mill at about 150 kilometers from where I live. It's the mill of choice of Viipurilainen kotileipomo, the family run bakery I visited earlier this year (and featured in issue 2 of my magazine, Bread), and the owner of the mill is my friend on Facebook. 

The mill has a strong feel of old days. This is how buying flour must have been like in the past, I thought: friendly people asking you what kind of flour you had in mind, seeing where the flour comes from as you enter the shop. And apparently I'm not the only one impressed by what they do: when I said I had come from Helsinki, the mill's staff told me that it's not that far compared to some other customers. One customer had just visited from Lapland and brought big bags of flour with her. 

I bought 5 kilos of rye flour, 10 kg bread flour, some oats and "uutispuurojauho", a very coarse rye flour meant for porridge making and returned home eager to try the flours. 

I started by trying to make my regular white sourdough bread using the bread flour from the mill, and noticed that there was something very different about how the dough behaved. I knew the flour is strong in protein, but this was much stronger than I had expected. I worked the dough for a long time, until I got tired and gave up. Without a machine, making a dough with nothing but this flour seemed impossible. I think Dan Wing or Alan Scott talked about this in Bread Builders, saying that strong flour is not very good for sourdough bread... What surprised me however was that even a long autolyse didn't seem to help. 

After experimenting with different ratios of this bread flour and some organic white flour I had used before, I found a combination that works very well. Using just 200 grams of bread flour from Vääksy, 100 grams of coarse rye flour from the same mill, and 800 grams of the organic flour, I was able to create bread I really liked: 

At times, I was ready to give up, but I guess now I understand better than ever that if all flour is not created equal, and what is good for something (making dough with a mixer in this case) is not good for something else (mixing a dough by hand).

But at the same time, I'm still not quite sure about this: I had previously bought some of this same flour from a small local food shop near the mill and made bread with it quite succesfully, replacing only a small part of the flour with spelt... There could be differences in batches, or maybe some other factor in the environment or even my starter was affecting the results? 


The next step in my flour experiments came by surprise when I visited Eat & Joy Maatilatori, a local food market at the heart of Helsinki and found their flour mills! At the back of the store, I found a small room with about 10 different flour mills meant for home use. Next to the mills they have big bags of grains, a scale, and a note saying "feel free to use the mills to grind your own flour." I had found heaven!

So far, I have visited the shop twice, as it's always a bit of work to take my kids and go flour shopping in Helsinki. Last week, I bought some rye flour and full grain wheat from the shop. Here's the bread that came out of that visit. 50% of the flour used in the bread is stone ground wheat flour I milled myself at the shop and the remaining 50% regular organic white flour. It's quite dense but tastes delicious with a rather strong wheat flavor (it's amazing how much darker and more flavorful this bread is compared to bread I've made from regular, store bought full grain flour before).


I should really be experimenting with heat and oven improvements, but my head is bubbling with ideas for more flour experiments... Maybe next, I'll mill some more flour and try sifting it to a higher extraction level, or maybe I'll mix in some of the strong bread flour from Vääksyn mylly...

giyad's picture

Different types of flour (local vs international)

October 17, 2012 - 10:53am -- giyad


I live in the US and recently started baking.  I'm trying to bake a traditional sandwhich bread from my home Lebanon.  However, when I went to Lebanon I saw that the flour they use over there is labeled and organized completely differently to the flour in the US.  Over there they have Zero, Platinum, Extra, etc... while here we have Bread flour, cake flour, pastry flour, whole wheat, etc..  I'm not able to find a comparison table, and I'm not able to draw the similarities myself so I was hoping someone could explain or at least point me in the right direction.

pmccool's picture

Just for grins, I searched for flour mills in the USA that sell to the public.  It was a fun exercise.  In addition to the larger, better-known names such as King Arthur Flour, there are some mills that are probably in TFLers’ back yards.  Since I don’t know most of the millers or their products, I leave it up to you to do your own experimentation.


Please note that I focused primarily on sources that have on-line stores.  That means that I left out some that sell only through localized retail outlets.  Also note that some of these are very small and may have limited offerings, such as only cornmeal.  And I’m sure that the list is in no way exhaustive.  Feel free to add your own suggestions.


The list is in no particular order.  However each listing will be in the form of mill name, state, website.  Here’s the list:


Lakeside Mills, North Carolina, website

The Stafford County Flour Mills Company, Kansas, website (I can find their products in supermarkets in the KC area)

North Dakota Mill, North Dakota, website

Prairie Mills, Indiana, website

Shawnee Milling Company, Oklahoma, website

Dakota Prairie Organic Flour Company, North Dakota, website

Sunrise Flour Mill, Minnesota, website

Wade’s Mill, Virginia, website

Heartland Mill, Kansas, website

Oakview Farms Granary, Alabama, website

Anson Mills, South Carolina, website

Calhoun Bend Mill, Louisiana, website

Orchard Mills, Louisiana, website

Homestead Gristmill, Texas, website

Natural Way Mills, Minnesota, website

Giusto’s Specialty Foods, California, website

McEwen and Son, Alabama, tel. 205-669-6605

Montana Flour and Grains, Montana, website

Stanton’s Mill, Maryland, tel. 301-895-4415

Nora Mill Granary, Georgia, website

Dellinger Grist Mill, North Carolina, website

McGeary Organics, Pennsylvania, website

King Arthur Flour, Vermont, website

Greenfield Mills, Indiana, website

Arrowhead Mills, Colorado, website

Bob’s Red Mill, Oregon, website

Wheat Montana, Montana, website

Great River Milling, Wisconsin, website

The Mill at Anselma, Pennsylvania, website

Hodgson Mill, Illinois, website

I also came across this listing of operating gristmills, which may be of interest.

And, just when you thought you knew all about stone-ground flour, here’s The Stone Cold Truth About Stone Ground Flour.  Worth a rant or two, I’m sure.



Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

This is what I've been doing for the last few days. I thought, since this was an interestinng case, that I should post a few things.

The first time I tried to make a starter I did it in the way I almost always do it: stone ground rye and water. For the first time in my starter-making, I got nothing. A few bubbles, but nothing ever concrete after the first few days. It was my first real failure since using the method mentiond in Sourdough 101. I decided that I should change out one of the variables to see what it was.

I remembered that I had a small bag of graham flour I was going to use to make smores cookies...and then I fell sick and ended up getting my gallbladder evicted. Cue finding it again, and then using it to make the second starter. And...resounding success. It's so much a success, even, that I could use it now. It's only been about five days, though, so I don't really plan to, but you know how you feel when something goes extremely *right* from the get-go.

In the mean time, I should mention that I've started feeding it with King Arthur plain bread flour and it's peaking in 4 hours most of the time, no more than 6.  It's taking basically *all the willpower I have* not to just bake with it right now. It smells sour, and yeasty, but not overly acidic. I just don't want to use it before it's really mature enough.

So...hi? And look forward to pictures from me as I bake. Again. Husband will be so thrilled at having ten different kinds of flour in the house again. :D

Also: I have been a member for four years and a week now. Time *flies*.

verve's picture

lovely bubble formation but not a great rise

September 10, 2012 - 3:25am -- verve

Hi everyone,


I had some amazing success with a few bakes and the last 2 have gone down in quality for some reason :( my previous successfull recipes had:

350 strong white flour

60 rye flour

100 spelt flour

300g water

14g salt


I had a great rise and a lot of bubbles but the one I made yesterday consisted of:


450 strong white

60g rye flour

300g water


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