The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello from the UK

Tom Kershaw's picture
Tom Kershaw

Hello from the UK

Hello all,

 

I've been baking  bread for the last few weeks with reasonable success; I had become frustrated with the indifferent quality of many supermarket breads. So far I've made several batches of french bread, pizza dough, and most recently, yesterday two white flour levain loafs, with my main reference being this site and the Jeffrey Hamelman book (http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471168572.html).

 

off to find the correct forum to ask about tomatoes in bread,

 

Tom 

Ford's picture
Ford

Hello Tom,

Welcome to the Fresh Loaf.

I also like Hamelman's book "Bread."  Tomatoes in bread?  Pizza?

Ford

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Welcome on  board TFL!  This is a great place to learn and share about home breadmaking.

I'd be curious to learn how the Hamelman receipes are working for you with the flour available in the UK.  Are you able to buy flours that just work with North American-centric recipes, or do you have to make adjustments? 

sPh

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Tom,

I'm based in Northumberland; there are quite a few posters on TFL from the UK at the moment.

You have chosen a great base for you bread baking by using TFL plus Hamelman

Best wishes

Andy

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Jemar,

you'll find the "plain flour" to be a perfectly acceptable substitute, generally.   UK wheat produces a soft flour on account of the climate, so our plain flour is much more akin to cake flour than it is to the US "All-Purpose" grade frequently referenced on here: we don't have this equivalence here in the UK.   For all that, an increasing amount of good commercial bread flour is now grown successfully here too!   As you write, tho'; this bread flour is very acceptable.

Best wishes

Andy

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi jemar,

Yes, I'm familiar with the differences between the 2 flours; I did choose my words carefully: "acceptable substitute".

Of course, in the US cake flour is more than likely to be bleached with chlorine gas.   This was banned in the UK a few years ago, and caused considerable worry to the cake manufacturing companies.   Heat treatment is a very acceptable replacement process, indeed.

The main factor, in the end, is the fine grind of the flour as well.   I have always found that plain flour is finely milled in this respect, although, again, appreciate not quite so fine as the special cake flour.

I guess I was making the point that plain flour is closer to cake flour than it is to the US All-Purpose.   A fair point?

Thanks

Andy

Tom Kershaw's picture
Tom Kershaw

Firstly, thank you for all the replies.

In reference to the question about flour; I've been using 'Waitrose very strong canadian white bread flour' which seems to work well and certainly develops gluten structure quickly. 

I have access to a large number of tomatoes so looking at ways of using them, and have roasted several to integrate at a later point with dough; possibly a brown / white flour mix. I'm planning to try the sourdough English muffin recipe posted here Sunday night / Monday morning.

Tom

lumos's picture
lumos

 

Hello, all. I also live in UK, in Greater London area, but originally came from Japan ...er...donkey's years ago.

I've been lurking here for a few years now but decided to join in properly to jump on this 'Hello UK-residents' bandwagon. Anything to do with food has always been my passion and been baking breads on-and-off since I was 10 yrs old but bread making is gradually becoming obsession rather than passion.  I was so thrilled to find this site a couple of years ago and I've been steeling great ideas and tips and information ever since. So thank you, everyone on TFL, for everything I've learned from your wonderful posts and for fuelling my mad passion for baking breads! :p And a special biiiiig THANKS to Floyd for starting and running this great site.

 

Anyway, going back to my reason for delurking.....

Regarding available bread flours in UK, has anyone used Waitrose's Leckford Estate Plain flour for baking French style breads, like baguette, batard, etc.? With 11.8% protein, which is higher than most of other plain flours on market, I've been wondering if it can be good substitute for T45 or US AP flour.

[url]http://www.ocado.com/webshop/product/Leckford-Plain-White-Flour-Waitrose/23443011?parentContainer=|13633|20001|20424|20717[/url]

I've been using their Leckford Estate Strong flour for making breads because I feel it tastes better than others (except for Shipton Mill's) but with 13.6% protein it doesn't quite produce right texture for baguette-type breads. I sometimes mix 30-50% plain flour to strong flour to lower the protein level but been too much of a chicken to use the plain flour on its own just in case it becomes unmanageably soft and wet.

I understand protein level is not always an accurate indication of gluten level, so if anyone has experience with Leckford Plain flour, your input is most welcome. Thanks!

lumos's picture
lumos

Thanks for the welcome, Daisy. :)

Gosh, I made a mistake already, didn't I? I meant 'T55' not 'T45'....and realized I can't edit the post on this forum. Should be more careful next time I post. :p

Yes, Leckford is great. I thoroughly recommend it if you haven't tried it yet. I'd been using Dove's organic white before, but when I first tried Leckford a few years ago on plain white loaf, I was really amazed by its fregrance and the taste. It's also recommended by Richard Bertinet, as the second choice after Shipton's. I use Dove's Malt House flour often in place of whole wheat flour when I want to add a bit of WW to give deeper flavour to bread, because I like it extra flavour complexity thanks ot the way they blend and the malt, but that's the only Dove's I use these days. Flavour-wise, I found Dove's white flour lacked flavour compared to Leckford's.

Thanks for the info on Marriage flour. I'll have a look later when I have time.

lumos's picture
lumos

Sorry for being a serial poster, but I've just 'investigated' about Marriage's flour on internet. They certainly look quite good and luckily I found one of their stockists was quite close to where I live ....AND they actually are the producer behind Waitrose flours! http://www.waitrose.com/food/celebritiesandarticles/producers/0609as11.aspx

I think I'll ask them which flours they produce for Waitrose and if they use same grain/blend for them as the ones of their own brand. If not, I'll try the stockist near me, which incidentally is quite close to my local Waitrose, too.

And yes, organic 00 flour at Waitrose. I always have it in my cupboard to make pasta and it's great for focaccia. But when I tried to make baguettes with it the other day it was a near-total-disaster. The protein content is so low (even lower than many of plain flour) , the dough stayed very soft throughout, it was very difficult to handle. I could've lowered hydration and kneaded more but didn't wan to do that because I was afraid it'd lose the texture of baguette-like crumb. In the end, I gave up shaping properly into baguette shape and the result was very..... 'rustic'. :p Maybe I need more practice with lower protein flours......

 

Tom Kershaw's picture
Tom Kershaw

lumos,

 

I've been using the organic '00' flour available at Waitrose for pizza dough, which it works very well for, but I'm not sure it has enough "structure" for bread making.

 

Tom

lumos's picture
lumos

Hi, Tom

Yes, I've also been using their (or the one they import from Italy, rather) 00 flour for pizza, too, and I agree it produces great result. Its protein is 11%, so it's not that the protein content is extremely lower compared to some of French T55 flours, but for some reason it feels very, very soft. Maybe because of a particular type of wheat they produce in Italy? I don't know....  If I could produce decent bread with 70-75% hydration with that flour, I was meaning to use it to make ciabatta, but so far I just can't feel confident enough to do so with my present level of skill. Maybe one day......sometime next century......?

BTW, I sent a mail to Marriages Millers  to ask about Waitrose flours this morning and they promptly replied me with the following message, if anyone's interested. 

Thank you very much for your mail, I'm pleased to hear of your successes when using our flour. We pack all the Waitrose own label 1.5kg packet flours, including Organic & Leckford. The grists ( Blends of wheat used ) on their flours are very similar to our own WHM flours.

I'm quite glad to learn the flour I've been happily using for years has been  produced by the decent miller with respectable method of milling .... and there's no need for me to hunt down their own brand flour! :p  I haven't used Waitrose organic flour yet, so I may try it next time, epecially its stoneground WW.

lumos's picture
lumos

LOL I haven't quite started collecting side panels of flour bags (not yet, anyway...), but I do have a list of protein levels I made of all the flour I use and some others I haven't used yet but am interested which I pasted on top of my bread recipe file, which is growing to a proper obesity level. (Another reason my daughter thinks my obsession on breadmaking is on the verge of madness...)

To compensate for the lack of sufficient ash level, I usually add small amount of either WW flour or wheat germ+bran. Not sure if I'm adding enough or too much and the amount changes all the time depends on what I make or on my mood, but it definitely adds some sort of depth to the bread....I think.

How is Marriage's plain flour like? Do you think it contains more bran than plain flour by other manufacturers, like their strong flour does? 11.3% protein is probably a liitle too low but if it tastes good I may mix in some strong flour to make it more manageable.

I use Waitrose's Canadian Very Strong flour for bagels because of its high protein level. When I make sourdough bagels, I even feed my levain with it so that the final protein level stays high to achieve chewy texture to make sure it 'bites back' as a proper bagel should do. I use malt powder rather than sugar for the dough and use malt extract to boil, which adds some complexity to the taste as well as sourdough, so I've been reasonally happy with the taste I got from them. At least my Jewish friends and other friends who used to live in NY are happy enough to pay me for my bagels, so I hope they're at least passable....

 

Tom Kershaw's picture
Tom Kershaw

I have some of the Leckford flour here; any advice on blending with the 'very strong Canadian'?

 

Tom

lumos's picture
lumos

Sorry, Andy, I somehow seem to have missed your post completely. And thank you for the valuable input you gave us.

Many of the things you mentioned seem to be related to what I wrote, so please allow me to reply here.

Thanks for the handy tip of adding rye to increase ash level. I didn't know it would until I read your post, but it does make sense, doen't it. Though I did say I add WW to achieve that effect in my post, what I actually use most of the times is Dove's Malt House flour because I always have it and use it in place for WW because I like how they blend it with small addition of rye flour in it. I sometimes sift to remove malted grains, sometimes not because I enjoy its flavour and texture. Also almost everytime I make artisan-style bread, I add small amount of rye on top of MH (or WW, if I have) to add some depth/complexity to the bread.  And when I make poolish baguette I always mix around 3% (of total flour weight) rye to poolish. I've been doing that for the flavour but obviously I was increasing the ash level at the same time without reaslizing it. Glad to know I wasn't doing a wrong thing. ;)

Regarding Waitrose's rye flour, I must admit it is not my first choice for rye flour quality-wise. I used to use Shipton's rye, both Light and Dark, before Waitrose started selling their own a few years ago, and I much prefer Shipton's. It's just that I don't bake rye-rich bread very often these days because both my hubby and daughter think they're too heavy but only use it up to 25-30% at most, usually in much lower proportion like 10% or less, to enhance the overall flavour rather than to using it as the source of dominant flavour, so I stopped bothering ordering it from Shipton. .....Lazy me, I know......

I have used Carr's flour (actually they're based not far from where I live) in the past but only the ones from their retail range, and I'm afraid I didn't like it very much. I thought it didn't have much flavour at all. But as I said it's only the ones they make for retail market, so perhaps the speciality CC flour you mentioned is of completely different quality. Unfortunately it only seems to be available for bulk order for professional people.....Pity. Maybe I'd come and knock on their door in person with my flour bin and beg they sell me in smaller amount in exchange for ..... cleaning their office or something??? :p

With WaitroseLeckford flour, I have been reasonably successful in making artisan-style 75-80% hydration bread with roughly the half-and-half mixture of Plain and Strong (plus tiny addition of WW/MH for ash/flavour) so far. It's just the matter of trying to be a little more brave and increasing the portion of the plain flour a little by little to see how it will cope (Or how I cope, rather...), I guess.....

lumos

lumos's picture
lumos

Tom,

I more or less agree with what Daisy has said, but just to add a few things....

I use Waitrose Canadian Very Strong flour not only for bages but also when I want to add some strength to dough which is relatively high in rye, so that it would compensate for lack of gluten in rye to achieve increased volume and make the bread less dense. Sometimes I also mix it with Leckford strong flour in sourdough for the same reason. How much I add depends on how much of other flours I use and what sort of effect I want.

It also has pleasant tint of yellowish/honey colour, which looks nice.

But if you have only started baking quite recently, I'd rather recommend to use one type of flour for a while (like at least 2-3 bags) and get used to its characteristics and learn how the flour react before moving on to trying other flour with totally different characteristic. There're lots of things you have to rely on your senses rather than 'numbers' on recipe in breadmaking at home in uncontrolled environment (unlike professional bakery), if you start using too many kinds of flour, whether on its own or in combination with other flours, it often just make you get confused because you never know a different result is caused by other factors like temperature/time/handling/etc. or by a change of flours.

If you're using Leckford flour and you're happy with it, why don't you keep on using it for a few more months and then try a same recipe with Canadian flour to see what difference it makes? And then you can start mixing them to achieve a certain effect you want. If you've been using one flour for a long time and switch to another kind, the difference you notice is quite distinctive and you know how it's different, but if you start mixing flours from too early stage of breadmaking, it may not give you that 'Aha!' moment so easily.

Andy may have another opinion as a professional and more experienced baking instructor, but that's my 2 pence, anyway....

lumos

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi lumos,

Yes, sorry, I posted above as Daisy_A had asked specific questions and added in my name, so I wanted her to see it.

Good; to all your comments re flour use.   I too am a big fan of Shipton Mill flour, which I used exclusively for most of my period with Village Bakery, Melmerby.

Whereabouts in Cumbria are you based?

I'm sorry you found the Carrs flour a bit tasteless; I assume you mean the "Breadmaker" flour?   I use this at home quite frequently.   Actually it has a very similar specification to the Special CC, maybe not quite so good.   I use the Carrs flour because it gives me consistent and reliable results for students working at all levels.   Granted, it is an idustrial flour, but I don't want to put new students into the position of being disappointed by the results of the products they make.   I fully understand any desire to use more artisan flours, and I always hold a local organic flour from Northumberland in class for students to dip into as well.

I have to say that I have always made pretty tasty bread and am very happy using this flour at home and work.   But it depends what your expectations and tastes are, and, the in and out of the fermentation system used.   I observe that you like to use very high hydration in the dough.   Maybe that is why you found the bread made with Carrs flour a bit lacking in flavour?

I agree with your advice to Tom about becoming very familiar with just a few flours to start with.   Very good.

Bagels?   I'm still trying to get excited about them.   So far, LindyD has come very close with these magnificent offerings: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17391/hamelman-bread-challenge-quintessential-bagel But the general concept doesn't really float my boat, so I haven't made them myself.   Maybe one day?

Very best wishes

Andy

lumos's picture
lumos

Daisy,

Yes, using malt powder instead of sugar definitely does a little magic to the flavour. But someone told me using honey wiould also improve the flavour, maybe not as much as malt powder but at least better than sugar, because it is more complex mixture of various types of 'sugars' than simple sugar. But using honey means having to adjust the hydration, so I haven't tried it myself yet.

As for blogging....well, probably not. The problem with me is that I spend too much time on PC/internet already at the moment and I enjoy it too much. already. So if I start my own blog on top of that which I'm pretty sure I'll get obsessed with the new toy straightaway, I wouldn't have enough time to leave my study and actually bake breads! :p I've been running a small cookery class at home last 13-14 yrs or so, and some of my students have told me I should start my own food blog, but I told them the same reason why I haven't done it and have no intention for doing so for the time being.

But having said that, I'm quite happy to share my recipe with anyone here who's interested. But with so many talented bakers in this forum constantly showing wonderful recipes already and many of ideas for my recipes did originally come from here anyway (with a bit of adaptation and adjustment to meet my taste and need), I'm not too sure if I can contribue something extra to people here. ;)

Anyway....

Regarding asking a miller about their flour and their reluctant tendancy to disclose too much details, I just happened to receive another email from Marriage's in reply to my request for the info on the ash content of their flour which I sent last night. And this is what they told me:

On Ash, we are not able here in the UK to give Ash results as the leglislative addidition of Creta would not give a figure that was representable say against a results from the States, sorry.

No wonder Shipton hasn't replied to the same request I sent them a few weeks ago. At least Marriage's has the courtesy to reply to my mail with a legitimate reason why they can't give me the info while Shipton completely ignored me....Oh well....

lumos

lumos's picture
lumos

Hi, Andy,

No, I'm not based in Cumbria (though I love visiting the area as a tourist :)), but just outside London in west Essex. Actually, I was a bit confused when I wrote Carr's was not far from me. I was thinking about Wright's, not Carr's. Sorry.  Please blame my aging brain... Glad you asked the question which made me realize my mistake before it's too late. Or I might've already gone to Wright's factory (which is 20 minutes drive from me) demanding to give me Carr's flour!

But, yes, I have used Carr's flour once some years ago and I think that was their 'Strong white.' I remember it had rounded flavour but it was a little too rounded to my taste with not so much of any special characterestic that stayed on my palate. I tend to prefer flour with some character. But it was such a long time ago, so my memory may not be right (Have I mentioned the old brain?) , I might pick another bag when I come across  it next time.

Yes, most of bread I make is around 70-75% hydration (except for bagels, of course), because that's what most of French style artisan breads which I like are. So I keep my sourdough at the same hydration to make my life easy. It may not produce correct result  for recipes which call for stiff levain or liquid levain (I adjust the hydration of final dough accordingly, of course), but sometimes you have to go with some compromise to make your life less complicated .... and to  save precious fridge space.

One problem for a home baker here in UK is that there are so few of them around who attempt to make artisan breads at home, the market is not geared to provide appropriate flour for them In Japan where more people bake that sort of bread (esp. baking baguettte and pain de campagne )in their tiny home oven has been very popular, there're well over 20 different kinds of French style flour, both imported and produced by Japanese millers, are quite easily available in retail-friendly size, while here I really have to try hunting down some passable substitute or mix various flours to meet my need. I'm hoping these effort I've been putting in my pursuit of good home-made bread is giving some stimulation to my brain and all those struggling and suffering is making me a better person.....:p

As for bagels, I based my recipe on what I learned from a Japanese book entirely on bagels and tinkered it with some ideas I've picked up from this forum and other books and sites, including the use of my 70 % hydration sourdough plus overnight fermentation in fridge. I'm quite pleased with the result it produces for the time being, so are my Jewish and/or ex-NYer friends, but if they start refusing to pay for my bagels, I may start thinking of changing the recipe again....

btw, do you know any good bread baking classes for home bakers in UK, preferably not too far from where I live? What I really want to learn is proper handling of dough, especially shaping good-looking baguettes. Everytime someone post about their experience at SFBI, I got so jealous people in US has such a lovely opportunity. Richard Bertinet used to do some classes occasionally entirely on French breads but he doesn't seem to do it anymore..and his class is soooo expensive!!!  I know Lighthouse Bakery started the bakery school since they moved to East Sussex, but has anyone heard any thing about how the class is like?

lumos

lumos's picture
lumos

Thank you, Daisy and Andy, for the info about French flour in UK.

Yes, I've known about these people because I did spend a considerable time looking for suppliers of French flour in UK when I started baking artisan-type bread some years ago and I still do regularly (I LOVE net-surfing!). Flour Bin IS actually 'Shipton Mills' themselves. It's their own online shop mainly targeted at retail customer. And Moul-bie/FWP Matthews is one of the suppliers I was most interested because they're are one of very few suppliers of Campaillou flour in UK. (Campaillou is my ultimate favourite bread....so far)

But I tend to be a little less desparate these days because I'm gradually getting the hang of making up my own flour blend to fake a certain flour type I want. I'm still experimenting and learning, but I'm not that frustrated as I used to be, because I now know I can sort of 'improvise' with what I have. Though it's far from perfect I'm sure, at least it's fun. ;)

 

Re: One small warning on buying organic flour in large bulk.

I used to do that with Shipton flour. Main reason was because they didn't used to accept any order less than 6 bags of flour some years ago (they do now). But a few years ago, one of the flour bag started 'breeding' bugs a few months after it's delivered and it spread to all other flour bags in a same plastic container I kept my stock of flour. It's probably a sure sign they don't use potentially unhealthy toxic chemical in organic flour, but it wasn't a pleasant experience. The problem is often not preventing a bug outside to go into your flour, but, especially with organic flour milled in less industrialized, smaller-scaled factory (which is usually better quality, unfortunately), bugs/eggs are already in it when it arrived on your doorstep.

Someone adviced me keeping flour in freezer would prevent eggs of bugs from hatching (if there was any egg in flour in the first place), but I don't have so much room in my freezer to keep large amount of flour. That's why nowadays I prefer buying flour in small quantity as I need it. Though it's takes a lot of shopping trips but I go to Waitrose at least 3 times a week anyway and at least I can feel relaxed not having to worry about flour bugs. I wish I lived near Shipton's......

So if you're thinking of buying a large sack of flour, keep it in a freezer if you can.

Re: Replies to Daisy's earier post 

Quote:
It's good to have a group of people to riff about UK flours and baking with. 
Can't agree more! We need to get all our force together to help each other to enrich our baking life and hopefully be able to increase the number of home 'artisan bread' bakers in UK, so that one day there'll be more variety of flour and tools more easily available to home bakers. Where there's demand, there will be supply! (I used to work in the financial market before my daughter came.:p) 

Quote:
'Legislative addition of Creta'. What is that? Sounds like they had to consult the Delphic oracle ;-)
LOL yeah, I wondered about the same thing when I first read it. It must be one of those 'new EU legislation' thingy that's to do with flour/milling that everyone in that industry awes and worships while no one else outside the industry doesn't even believe or know its existence. :p

 

Regarding my cooking class,  I do all sorts of things, European, Asian (Far East, South East and South), Middle East, North African, etc. etc. Basically whatever tastes good, I attempt to do it.  But my favourite is probably Italian.

However I'm not professionally trained and I only started doing the class because my friends who'd eaten what I cooked had been asking me to teach them cooking for a long time, so when I stopped working after I had my daughter (who's a teenager now), I gave it a go. Fortunately a lot of new people keep on joining the class through word of mouth, but it's only a tiny class with 5-6 people at a time and only a few times a month, so it's more like hobby rather than proper 'job.' But that's how I want to keep it because I keep 'food' as my enjoyment rather than something 'I have to do.'

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Daisy_A,

Good to read about your adventures into baguette territory.   I've only used Bacheldre Dark Rye, so thanks for the positive information on their wholemeal.   I suspect we'll be seeing an expansion in the near future, as this firm is fronted by some real "go-ahead" directors.

Have you seen Ciril Hitz's excellent video on baguette shaping?   This is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI-WstoakmQ

With regard to "Moul-bie" this turns over some interesting thoughts and a contrast between French and other Artisan baking cultures.   A number of chains have evolved in France in the last few years; Moul-bie being one, another is "Paul".   Maybe "La Brea" in the US has similarities to these, although their products are "bake-off", I believe.  The French artisans chains are franchises of bakers producing the same types of breads, and offering considerable support and training to achieve standards of excellence.   The nearest UK equivalents I could think of, and they are not close by any means [!], would be ingredients manufacturers offering their "ready-mixes" to the market...how strange our bread-buying habits have become?!!

You'd have to read Kaplan's work to get more from this, but his key point would probably be that, to the French, the Artisan bakers' enemy is the supermarket, offering both ISB and factory-made frozen and bake-off type products.

All good wishes

Andy

lumos's picture
lumos

Am I the only one who thinks "Paul" is too overrated? I bought a few loaves from both their shops in Paris and here in London, but I always findit really disappointing, especially if you consider the price they charge. Poilane is expensive, but some of their bread is really special (expensive, though!), but with Paul..... Sorry, I'm not a fan of them. I've even started feeling mild rage whenever I see their sign in town these days....

And Royal Crown Tortano at Neal's Dairies (by FlourStation???)  don't have potato pieces in it anymore.....What's happening?!

Rapid increase in good quality food in this country did help giving us  much better breads with much wider variety, but I also noticed the quality of some really good ones have been going down the hill, too. Maybe maintenance of quality hasn't quite caught up with the rapid increase of production?

 

Gosh, I think I'm gradually turning into a very nasty bread-extremist......:P

lumos

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Daisy_A and lumos,

Finally sitting down to answer these thought-provoking issues; sorry for the delay.   It's been a heavy week and this is only the first week students are back!

Juggling lots of balls; including the MSc, and loads of issues with my personal teaching load.

I feel it would be wrong for me to be critical of "Paul" products, as I have never tried them.   I think my concerns are to do with the shape of the UK artisan bread world moving forward.   This is why I found Kaplan's discussion of the re-emergence of good bread in France to be of interest.   Will the UK echo France, or, is our situation different?

La Ronde des Pains is a brand name set up by Grands Moulins de Paris [GMP].   This organisation has accounts with the likes of Nestle, and controls 10% of the French flour market.   25% of GMP business is with French artisanal bakers, so the crisis of poor bread leading to declining sales throughout the latter part of the 20th Century was a real and serious issue for GMP.

Interestingly, FWP Matthews could not be compared to GMP in anyway, given it is a small family firm.   We'll have to see how it develops.   For all that, GMP is noted for its dedication to existing client base, and it can, of course, boast of its ultra-famous school, Ecole du Boulangerie; for years, the home of Raymond Calvel.

Campaillou is indeed a brand name for a type of bread, along with Campaillette and Campagrains.   The standards of required manufacture for these are all laid down, and relatively clearly, by most accounts.   However, that has apparently not meant these standards are not open to abuse and misinterpretation, and it seems lumos' comment bears that out only too well.   Kaplan describes Campaillette as "another baguettefermented thanks to dehydrated sourdough..created in 1988...became GMP's flagship product".   He notes that the bread is made from T65 flour, and "when perfectly executed, the combination of leaven and true pointage gave...a palette of rich aromas and a robust flavour"   See pp.249-252 of Kaplan's book for this.   Reference is given in the booklists in my account information.   I'm thinking that lumos has come across examples of another branded product, Campaillou, some of which live up to the descriptions used by Kaplan for it cousin, and some of which don't.

So, does all the fancy training work?   Whilst I wholeheartedly support the investment in future baking skills for the artisans of the future, I wonder if this is the best way to go?   Maybe, as a baker, I'm suspicious of the miller?   I'd rather think I'm suspicious of the all-powerful food manufacturers.   If the likes of Puratos, IREKS, Delice de France, etc etc continue to hold sway, I'll maintain the mass market for bread will remain, at best, ordinary and uninspired.   At worst it is just so depressing knowing how these products are made, how much money and technology is invested into them, and how truly terrible they turn out; think of the pre-mixes used in the Maher's Bakery as a means to suppress the creativity of the only skilled baker employed.  A baker not reliant on logo-based pre-mixes and support, and still able to turn out the highest quality breads using long fermentation, is a powerful baker.   If you fall back on the technical expertise of others, you have lost the power.   The millers know that, and the giant food manufacturers certainly know that.   Think ISBs!   Herein lies the most credible explanation why our bread is so rubbish: there are few bakers left with knowledge and skill...the power has been annexed by the giants.

And the French companies are using pre-mixes; don't think otherwise.   Not quite so full of the additives we indulge in, but Ascorbic Acid and Bean Flour are 2 adjuncts that have been found in French bread since it became a more automated process in the aftermath of World War 2.

I would rather see artisan baking developing more from the bottom up.   It would be good to see millers supporting work by Real Bread Campaign/my College fostering both bakeries, and flour mills which are genuinely part of the local community.   I'm just not sure if logos such as Ronds des Pains really contribute that much to making this happen.   Let's reinvigorate knowledge and skill where it is needed most, and wihout reliance on logos and branding from mainstream operators desperate to hold the power strings.

All good wishes

Andy

Franko's picture
Franko

Interesting thoughts of yours on this matter Andy.

Being a supermarket baker myself I can tell you that what we do today in terms of what I call real baking is a far cry from what we did twenty years ago. Now days the general public expects to come into their local supermarket and be able to pick up a loaf of 'artisan style bread' to take home with them, many/most not realizing that what they're getting is something that although reheated in our ovens is not mixed nor baked in shop. The practical problem for the company that runs the supermarket is how to give the customers what they demand and still stay profitable. Here's where it gets down to the nitty gritty, since the largest part of our bakery budget is labour. How does an operator provide a product that by it's very nature requires not only skilled labour but considerably more of it and still remain profitable? This is where the likes of Puratos comes to the rescue of the mass market food retailer The factory made breads that are par baked and flash frozen, and which the retailer passes off as 'baked in store'...( technically not true) are playing an ever increasing roll in our product line as well. It just comes down to $ as usual, because the large retailer simply can't or won't afford to actually produce true artisan breads on premises based on what they expect to realize in profit. If we were to produce these long ferment breads we'd first need to find the skilled labour , which seems to be in short supply on a nation wide basis, and then we'd need to increase our per shop labour and hours requirements in skilled bakers by 100%..conservatively, not to mention our support staff of bench hands. 

I'd love it if the economic reality was different and we could all be baking breads in the traditional time honoured methods, but I'm not willing to go from earning a very middle income to a very modest income in order to facilitate that . The average consumer just will not pay $5+ for a loaf of bread, nor should they in my opinion, so something on one or the other side of the production/retail equation will have to shift before we see mass market enjoyment of real bread. It's a sad state of affairs I grant you, the employers being in a very difficult position and skilled bakers not willing to be paid less to accommodate the budget, but there you have it in a nutshell as to why, ( from my point of view) our bread has been in decline for the last 50+ years.

All the Best,

Franko

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Franko,

My views on the role of the supermarkets in the UK gets dimmer by the day.   Granted, they may not be as evil in Canada, as they are over here.   My main observation is that everything on the shelf just gets more and more "ordinary".   Artisan-style bread is a case in point...and exactly for the reason you state: it is brought in frozen and put through additional heat treatment in-store.   I think you rightly hint that the products are already baked; par-baking is one big misnomer to me.   These products are biscuits...ie "twice baked".   I'd sooner work to expose tricks like this for what they really are.

Unfortunately, it is tricks like this which allow the supermarkets to undercharge for bread; compounded by the disgraceful tactics of loss-leading with pappy white-sliced nonsense aimed deliberately at providing the carbohydrate base for those people struggling on low incomes.   Actually these people, more than any deserve better in terms of accessing healthier diets.   Sadly, food has been too cheap for too long.   We have grown accustomed to this, and now expect it as a right.   But cost prices for raw materials and basic food commodities have gone up exponentially in recent years, and most project will continue to rise.   I don't think the supermarkets will like this somehow!   But it's true, and I only expect it will make them more ruthless than ever before.   Some may think this a good thing; personally I believe it to be a disaster in terms of making good food available to all at realistic prices.

As for wages, I have worked in-store in the UK.   Ok, so bakers were better paid than most of the shop floor workers, but I don't think I'd be writing home about how well off I was working in a supermarket as opposed to in the craft baking sector.   Your average supermarket wage in the UK is not good, believe me.

In the end, I believe supermarkets actually don't have a role to play in the provision for good bread...does anybody out there really trust these companies to provide such breads?   I don't, not for one minute.   There is an alternative to the large retailer; that is fundamentally what I want to make the most significant part of my teaching in College in the years to come, and it's my commitment to the UK real bread-buying public.

Very best wishes

Andy

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Andy,

I wish you success in your mission to educate not only your students but the general public to the alternatives. If the large majority of consumers demand that they want real bread and not some mass produced impostor, it may indeed change over time. However for me, as a supermarket baker  I suspect it will be too late. I'll be retiring sometime in the next 8-9 years and I don't see the situation changing that quickly...but who knows. If the popularity of this site is any indication, it may happen sooner rather than later.

All the best,

Franko

lumos's picture
lumos

Very interesting discussion, Andy, Daisy and Franko,

I started writing my 2 pence this morning, but after spending a few hours writing and editing and rewriting, I thought it might be easier if I just post the link to this article from The Times a few years ago.

"How to find good French bread"

I don't know how many of the baguettes they blind-tasted were from high-end, 'famous' (=posh+expensive) Continental style boulangeries in London, but I've tried many of them, as well as many bakeries in Borough Market, but so far I'm still trying to find "My Favourite Bakery" as I wrote in My Profile, just as those French women in the article probably still are. It's so much better than 20-odd years ago when I first started living here, and I can see things are gradually improving and I'm really grateful for that, but it's not quite 'there' yet, unfortunately.

Anyway....

Shipton finally replied to my email of enquiry about the protein/ash level of their flours this morning. It came with apology for having taken so long, and they kindly provided me with all the info I wanted, even the ash level unlike Marriage's. (What happened to Creta regulation???)

If anyone's interested, here's the copy, if anyone's interested.

                                                             Ash     Protein

 

Canadian Strong White Bread Flour          0.63    12.6

 Finest Baker's White Bread Flour             0.63    12.4

 French White Flour                                 0.55    10.7

 Italian White Flour (00)                          0.55    11.4

 Italian Ciabatta Flour                             0.63    11.3

 Strong White Flour                                 0.63    10.1

 Traditional Organic White                        0.63    10.1

 Untreated Organic White Flour                  0.63    11.3

 

Interesting all of their flour seem to have relatively low level of protein. Only 12.6% even with Canadian Strong? I now know I should stick to Waitrose Canadian Very Strong for my bagel. And their French flour's really soft, isn't it, with only 10.7% protein. Untreated Organic White flour could be a good alternative with higher protein for making artisan bread until your shaping technique seriously improves.... Especially with 63% ash, it sounds good. :)

And really intriguing thing is that Mr.Bertinet recommends  Waitrose Leckford or  their Canadian Very Strong as the good alternative to Leckford's. But as you can see, Shipton's flours seem to have lower protein level while both Waitrose flours have relatively higher protein level than other flours on the market. Interesting......

 

 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi lumos,

Yes the information provided by Shipton is indeed of great interest.   Thank you very much for posting it here.   Actually, they are all moreorless exactly what I would expect, except the Strong Organic flour at 10.1%!   Although I would have expected the Italian "00" to have 0.5% ash content [French equivalent of Type 50 rather than 55]

The protein figures are very much in line with my commercial experience.   Maybe I should explain why:

The French flour has only .55% ash content, indicating the flour is more heavily refined [than those quoted with .63%].   So it is likely the proteins indicated in the 10.7% figure come from the inner portion of wheat kernel, thus being of the highest quality in terms of contribution to the gluten potential in the mixed dough.   A typical % quoted for French flour would be 10.5%, for a Type 55 flour.

I have used the Waitrose Very Strong Canadian flour, and I wasn't as bowled over by it as I expected to be.   Granted, I haven't used it for Bagels, because I don't make them, or rave about them.   However, for strength [and this is illustrative], this flour quoted at around 15%, I believe, is of inferior all-round baking quality to the Carrs Special CC I bake with.   The spec on this flour is very similar to the Shipton Canadian in terms of the headline protein % figure.   Obviously, from a baker's point of view, there is a lot more to flour analysis than protein and ash content % headline figures.   Please, always bear in mind that the % protein quoted on the bag can only ever be a guide at best.   It is quite feasible that a flour at 13% can perform just as well as a flour at 14-15%, maybe even better.  

Do you have any idea what Shipton promote as the difference between their "untreated organic" and the "traditional organic"?   At Village Bakery we used the latter as our main white flour in all our breads.   It was marketed then as "No. 4"   The Company was all-organic, and the only alternative at the time, I believe, was the Strong Canadian; prohibitively expensive.   But this is now 7 years since.

As a predominantly organic company, I would expect Shipton flours to be slightly weaker than the Waitrose range.   Additionally, Shiptons produce primarily for the commercial baker.   Commercial bakers would struggle to justify the extra cost involved in using all-Canadian super strong flours carrying heavy import tariffs and premium prices on the world market.   Especially if an Organic premium is then added on top of that.

Having used Shipton flours for 10 years in a commercial environment, I can assure you the company produces a very high quality product.   I cannot do the comparison thing really: the only Waitrose flours I've used are the Bacheldre Dark Rye and the Italian "00" flour [can't remember the brand], and I really like both of these.   The very strong Canadian I thought was ok, but not as special as I'd expected.

I don't think I've heard of the "Creta Regulation" either.

Many thanks for the link to the article; I'll have to follow this up later.

All good wishes

Andy

lumos's picture
lumos

Thank you, Andy, for lots of variable info.

Please, always bear in mind that the % protein quoted on the bag can only ever be a guide at best.   It is quite feasible that a flour at 13% can perform just as well as a flour at 14-15%, maybe even better. 

Yes, I do know protein level can only be a rough guidance for fiding out how flour would behave and that the different ways of milling grains which produced diffrent characteristics of each flour. But unfortunately most of millers in UK do not supply other data, like gluten level or ash content, it is the only source of info a home baker like me have to rely on to help me wild-guessing about the characteristics of particular flour I'm interested. Hope the situation will change one day, but I may be dead before it finally happens....:p

Anyway, I've got another email from the kind miller from Shipton's replying to my further enquiry, which included the explanation on the difference between 'Traditional Organic White' and 'Untreated Organic White' that Daisy asked, so I copy it here. 

Diffrence between between 'Traditional Organic' and 'Untreated Organic'

Both these flours are untreated at the mill we do not add flour improvers they are however two different flours. The Traditional contains Maris Widgeon Wheat, an old variety of wheat of which little is grown now days, It also contains other wheat varieties for strength.

The Untreated organic White contains English and European grains and has a higher protein. 

All white flours Organic or non organic must have additives prescribed by current legislation. So we add Calcium, Iron and the Vitamins Thiamine and Niacin these are at very low levels and all Millers in the UK do the same. Wholemeal flours are exempt from these regulations and we do not add anything to them.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi, these are largely in response to Daisy_A's long posts above.

Answers may be snapshots, but here goes:

Regarding millers, bakers and training.   Shipton started going to the route of short course a while ago.   I think they had a link to some courses run in Italy, but don't quote me on that.   There is nothing at all on their website now; maybe that will change soon?

I agree wholeheartedly for the need to form partnerships to develop more effective training for those coming into small-scale commercial artisan breadmaking.   I do all I can here in College, but have numerous constraints.   All my courses run 1 day a week for a year.   So long as prospective bakers can travel into Newcastle easily enough, I would have thought that to be ideal.   But that doesn't help for those too far away...ie most people!   Special short course are an option, but a complete nightmare to timetable.   I'm already hopelessly overworked, and trying to study for MSc.   Teaching evening classes is beyond reason.   Also, a short practical session [even 3 hours] is seriously limiting for themes on long fermentation!

We have to move together on this; I'm so keen to change college focus and move it back to artisan within the college.   But we are employment-driven, and I am also enthused with work such as links with Allied Bakeries to deliver specialist plant baking courses, and open discussions with Allied, Warburtons and Cafe Royal about driving forward a local Apprenticeships Scheme.   Oh, did I mention I also spend 860 hours a year in a classroom, teaching...at the last count, 6 different subjects across Levels 1 through to 5.   Not to whinge; I jusst have to be realistic about what's possible in the here and now.   This is why it is so crucial to get the new Level 3 Artisan programme off the ground.   This is really ideal, and could be the ground-breaking initiative Daisy is really seeking to define.

OBG is indeed a great project.   I need to update myself on recent progress and initiatives.   The highlight of the Real Bread Conference last year, no doubt about it!

Franko, we've discussed when the supermarket domination will come to an end before, and agreed about it: when the oil runs out!!!   It will; or we'll grow crops for fuel and watch even more people starve instead.   A policy of lunacy!   But I think you'll safely make it through to retirementbefore it really goes pear-shaped.   Where's that crystal ball?

Lumos, I can't open the link you gave; please can you look into that for me?

Regarding bread quality in France, there really is no avoiding reading Kaplan's work for the best insight into what has happened to French bread, 1789 through to 2006.   As for London, I have really no idea.   Vincent is now working for Artisan Bakers in London; he may be able to comment.   I note Lumos' comment on "Paul".   Given the chain is making big in-roads in the Capital, how will that drive any quest for the "perfect" baguette?

DonD's baguettes: based on the Gosselin formula in the article, and a great post.   I posted a similar experiment at the time.   It also prompted a really interesting discussion on "bassinage" too, if I remember rightly?

As regards Tokyo, and the emergence of French bread in Japan; maybe copyu raised this, I don't know?   A certain Professor Raymond Calvel was instrumental in working with bakers in Japan to develop high quality baguettes and other traditional French breads.   You can read about this in Wirtz's translation of Calvel's "Gout du Pain/Taste of Bread"

All good wishes

Andy

 

lumos's picture
lumos

Hi, all,

You're most welcome, Daisy. It's really lovely to be able to share the information with fellow UK home bakers.

Yes, having got those information on each flour, my interest to Shipton flour was piqued again after a few years of buying other flour (since the flour bug incident), too. Another flour I'm quite interested, but haven't tried yet, is their 'Swiss Dark Flour'. I once had  really wonderful loaf of served at breakfast in a small hotel in Switzerland years ago during holiday, have been wondering if Swiss Dark is something similar to that.

According to the kind Shipton miller, it is...

The Swiss Dark flour is a blend and is defined as Brown flour produced from wheat. ......The Swiss does not contain the full amount of bran from the grain so we cannot call it a wholemeal. It contains particular bran fractions and does not contain Rye so it will be light.

 So possibly it's something similar to High Extraction Flour, maybe? I think I might try it sometime soon.

Leckford's flour at my Waitrose is with all other flours in baking ingredient section.  There was one time several years ago when they couldn't sell any Leckford flour for whole year, because their wheat was damaged by some sort of disease, so I know it's more-or-less entirely sourced from the farm in Leckford Estate and it's not that  that huge, so maybe they only stock it at larger branches?

They're doing some discount on own brand organic flours, so I picked up a few bags the other day. I won't use it until I finish the already-opened one, but if I do, I'll let you know the result.

Re; Baking school/classes for non-professional bakers

One class I've been really interested is the ones by Lighthouse Bakery. Since they moved to East Sussex from their famous shop in SE London, they started school/class for mainly non-professional people, some of them for beginners and other for more advanced home bakers. There're various types of classes, so you may find somethint that'd interest you.

 http://www.lighthousebakery.co.uk/bakeryschool/

If anyone's tried their course, I'll be interested in hearing what it was like. Thanks.

 

Andy, here's the link for the article. I think it's the same one I posted above and the only one I have. Hope it works this time.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/article4074087.ece

But I just posted that article only because the French ladies there echoed how I've been feeling so well, and nothing more than that, so I'm not sure if you'd find it interesting or not.

And, yes, thank you, I have seen DonD's baguette and many of other wonderful baguettes created by many talented TFLers here during my 3 years of lurking, and was discussing about baguettes in Japan with copyu the other day. I think there were some posts by other people who mentioned about Calvel's influence on Japanese artisan bread making before that, too.

yozzause's picture
yozzause

HI Daisy ,

Yes the companion bakery is the one from sourdough companion.

Both my wife and i have always wanted to visit TASSIE so it should be a matter of killing 2 birds with 1 stone. I might also have to see if i can get our college interested in stumping up for the course or part thereof.

My dear old dad lives right on the border of West Sussex, LISS in Hampshire where i grew up, in fact his local The Flying Bull is built in both counties. Dad is making his pilgramige to Australia again this Christmas not bad for over 80 years old.

There was a programme on tv the other night Grand Designs about a guy that built a home in the forrest in West Sussex, it was very good and a friend of mine is keen to find out whereabouts it is as he does receive visitors and she would like to visit when she comes over next year., i really should be making my plans for my next uk visit as i am due my long service leave now it gives me 3 months off work, a wonderfull scheme that i have enjoyed on 2 previous occasions.

kind regards Yozza

yozzause's picture
yozzause

WOW Daisy that was fast, ask and ye shall receive.and with the wonder of the internet i have passed the info to my friends who are on their way to the Eastern States with their off road caravan.

Many thanks, i hope to be able to meet a few fellow TFL members when i get back to the old country and  have already received an invite from Andy to call by, we have realatives up at Huddersfield and Todmorden and friends at Glasgow so will be travelling north, also a sister in Cornwall. 

lumos's picture
lumos

Thanks you, Daisy. Yes, I've seen the thread on Swiss Dark flour in DP forum because I've been lurking there for a few years, too. In fact that was one of the first bread related forums/blogs I started following some years back, even before I 'discovered' TFL, and it's the one I always check for any UK specific information on bread/flour,  though I haven't registered to join in.

Actually, there're a few posts on Campaillou bread  somewhere in the forum  a few years ago with Dan's recipe suggestion to approximate the texture/flavour without using the Moul-bie flour which I printed out and kept in my bread file.  I tried to give you the link to the post, but something seems to be wrong with either the site or my IE and I can't access the forum at the moment at all. Sorry.  But if you're interested, I think their 'Search' will take you to the right posts with 'Campaillou', when the site is back, and the recipe will give you some idea what Campailou is like. 

Lighthouse Bakery's classes look quite good, aren't they? Much more intermediate/experienced home bakers friendly than other baking classes for non-professionals. I can probably drive down there in less than a couple of hours (according to my sat nav), so hopefully I can go there and be back by the evening without having to stay there overnight.

If you're interested in preferments 'Advanced Baking' seems to offer some teaching on it, too. I use preferments in most of my breads myself, too, usually sourdough, poolish and pate fermante. I'm more-or-less happy with what I'm doing, but perhaps I could do with a few intermediate leg-ups by a professional intructor. I'm also interested in 'French'  and 'Italian'.   After years of combing though forums/blogs/sites for information and choking my book case with 30+ breadbaking books, I think the only way to improve my skill more, especially on handling/shaping, is to attend a hand-on class  or two and get a real-time experience and instruciton by a professional baker.  

As for Jewish breads, yes, I'm with you. Many of US-based TFL posters, especially the threads on that new Jewish baking book,  have definitely piqued my interest in Jewish breads beyond bagels, chollah and pumpernickels. One of the largest Jewish communities in UK is only 15-20 minutes drive from me, but I've only tried their bagels and chollah. I think I should be more adventurous and try their other offerings next time I go there.

lumos's picture
lumos

Found the thread on Campaillou.

http://www.danlepard.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=69&p=259&hilit=campaillou#p259

.... no other baker has ever watched me work with dough. I can't see how this could be accomplished outside a class or skill share.

My thought exactly! I've lost count of how many breadmaking/dough shaping/etc. videos I've watched on youtube,etc. along with all sorts of instruction/tips in books/blogs/forums. But there's only so much you can learn from those things, especially handling/shaping of dough, where I think I still have some problems and I'm pretty sure that's the cause of my inconsistent results in texture and shape. What I really need now is get a professional baker to watch how I do things (espcially handling/shaping) and point out where I'm doing wrong.

I went to the Jewish bakery yesterday afternoon (Got a strong urge after I posted.:p), but I must say it was a disappointment. It was the first time in a few years I wen to the area and the first thing I noticed was some of the bakeries that used to be there were no longer there. So I went to one of the remaining bakery which was the most established one. The only distinctively Jewish breads they had was a few kinds of bagels (ones with seeds/sesame on top and ones without) and chollahs and a some sort of  'black bread.' All other breads were just ordinary looking loaves and rolls you'd see in any English bakeries, though I'm sure theirs were made from kosher ingredients. They had many kinds of biscuits and tiny pastries but bread-wise, it was not very interesting. No bialy, no pumpernickel. No wonder I'd only bought bagels and chollahs from them in the past!

Anyway, so I bought a couple of bagels to try myself and I ate it this morning, which was the first time in a few years I ate bagels from a real Jewish bakery. The texture was alright but not as firm as it bit back. But flavour-wise.....I'm sorry to be so arrogant, but I thought mine was better. It had a distinct smell of yeast-based dough which hadn't come through long-fermentation. Actually, But with the price they charge (mere 25p a piece), probably they can't afford to go through all the lengthy process and mine definitely benefits from the use of sourdough.

It's just one bakery I tried, so I don't think they represent the present situation of Jewish bakeries in UK. (I hope not, anyway) Maybe I'll try other Jewish bakers in north London area when I go there for my Japanese food shopping next time.

btw, I went to the stockist of Marriage's flour on the way back, but unfortunately they only stock brown plain flour and brown self-raising flour. No white. No strong. Maybe we have a lot of health conscious home baker for cakes and biscuits, but not enough breadmakers in our area.....