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How to convert recipes for French flour?

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Graid's picture
Graid

How to convert recipes for French flour?

Hi folks,

I'm in the UK, and out of curiosity ordered myself some Type 55 French flour from Shipton Mill. I have already used the majority of it on a batch of the simple 'classic French bread' from Peter Reinhart's 'Artisan breads every day'. This does not use a sourdough starter, but uses cold fermentation, and I've had decent results with it in the past.

However, I was actually rather disappointed in the results of using the French flour instead of the UK or Canadian bread flour I usually use. I understand French flour has a lower gluten content than the flour for bread generally sold in the UK, and this seemed to manifest itself in making the loaf rather dense and tight, with regular, small holes, as opposed to the larger holes and more open texture I've gotten from this recipe in the past.

I was wondering, is there anything I can do to  modify the recipe to get better results from the French flour?

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi Graid,

There was a very interesting thread discussing T65 and T55 here:  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10182/french-and-american-flour-123-formula

Of particular note are SteveB's reflections.  He is a TFL member who also runs the Bread Cetera site.  Not updated recently,  but still a great repository of good info:  http://www.breadcetera.com/

 Hope this is of some help.

Graid's picture
Graid

Thank you! A lot of interesting stuff there, though obviously, one issue is that I am comparing British and not US flour to French flour. I note that they seem to be of the opinion that the French flour needs less water. Certainly I do think it was slightly wetter as a dough than usual, but the main difference was its not being nearly as airy. The recipe SteveB uses with French flour is 75% hydration, there is part of me that wants to try that with what remains of my flour, another part of me that warns me that the bread will be soup! I have not had great success with anything of that high a hydration level, and trying it with flour that doesn't even need as much water as usual seems.. unwise.

BarbaraK's picture
BarbaraK

Hi Graid

I'm also in the process of trying French flour and just came across Dan Lepard's blog comparing all the different types of flour. Very useful.

I had posted a request for advice on TFL forum and Crider suggested using 65% water with French flour  rather than the 75% with high protein flour that

the original recipe called for.  Dan Lepard also says to lower the liquid by 10% /15%, reduce the rising temp. to about 21-24C and reduce the oven temp towards the end of baking to stop it burning.  I had made one batch with the 75% liquid using Anis Bouabsa's recipe using long, cold fermentation,  and it was delicious but almost impossibly wet to handle and form. I have high hopes for my next batch!  Good luck with yours.

kolobezka's picture
kolobezka

Hi,

I don't bake with French flour, but Czech flour is also lower in gluten. I usually have to reduce the hydration camparing to US recipes by 15% (10-20%). Final hydration is 60 - 65% depending on how much rye flour I use in the recipe. Also, you probably won't be able to keep the dough in the fridge for much more than 24 hours. Later the gluten gets too week. You may also try several brands - not only the quantity of gluten but also the quality counts. In any case you can get very nice, light loafs with any method (sourdough, preferment or direct, with or without cold fermentation).

(Actually I do cold fermentation all the time as it fits better my schedule and the cold dough is easiet to handle)

zdenka

BarbaraK's picture
BarbaraK

Hello Zdenka

Thank you for all the information. I normally use British white and rye flour but I was interested in using the French flour for baguettes.

My first baguette trial was very tasty and the crust was good but it was really too wet to handle. I'm definitely going to try the lower hydration next time, which was suggested by others on the Forum, and, hopefully, that will take care of the handling problem.  I hope it doesn't affect the flavour, which was very good and I know that if you change one thing it can affect other qualities. My recipe calls for not more than 21 hours in the frig and it worked fine. Like you I find the long, cold fermentation works well with our schedules. I use it for my no-knead wheat/rye too, only longer.

I was surprised to learn that Czech flour is lower in gluten. I know that Hungarian is high gluten and assumed that all Continental climates hadthe same kind of wheat.  One should never assume anything.

 

Good baking.

Cheers

Barbara

 

 

 

Marie-Claire's picture
Marie-Claire

I confirm : use a hydratation of 65 % , not higher !

Hello from France !

Marie-Claire

 

BarbaraK's picture
BarbaraK

Hello Marie-Claire and thanks   I will definitely try this next time.

Regards

Barbara

 

Graid's picture
Graid

Thanks again for the interesting information. And thanks for the confirmation, Marie-Claire. I tried again using the French bread recipe from Peter Reinhart's Artisan breads every day, using about 65% hydration. Taking into account what others said about not letting it stay in the fridge too long, I baked it about 15 hours after refrigeration. The taste was actually very good, especially considering how little time it had spent fermenting- far better than the last batch. I also think that the bread was far  tastier than a UK flour loaf would have been after such a short time in the fridge. It had a definite 'french bread' taste.

Still, however, I seem not to have solved the texture issue, though I am happy with the results. The loaf had a soft but dense crumb, not the kind of more open texture I would like.

I am going to experiment though! Tomorrow I will do the exact same process with UK flour and see how the texture and crumb and taste compares.

I did actually notice that it seemed to brown more quickly in the oven- it seemed in danger of burning after about 20 minutes of baking at full temperature.

Marie-Claire's picture
Marie-Claire

Do you bake "baguettes" or a big round loaf ?  In my oven with a baking stone, i bake the baguette 30 min and the big loaf 45 min.

I preheated to 280 ° C, and I lower the thermostat to 220 ° C when the bread isbin the oven. It's important to have a "falling heat", the temperature must ne high at the beginning, and then lower.

May i give you an advice ? Use a T 65 flour, it is better for bread.( The T 55 is good for brioches and croissants).

(please excuse me, because english is not my native language...)


 

Graid's picture
Graid

It was a batard, which I hope is actually a term you use for that kind of long-ish but not actually quite baguette length loaf in France, or that probably sounds rather ridiculous! Good point about the lowering the temperature, the recipe actually did say to do that, though I don't always do so because my oven isn't actually very good at reaching high temperatures anyhow (maximum is 240C). The place I ordered the flour from actually didn't have T65, but I shall look out for it elsewhere online. 

 

 

Marie-Claire's picture
Marie-Claire

Yes it is a bâtard. You know, it means "bastard", because it is the "child" of a baguette (his mum) and a big long bread (his dad). ;-)

If your oven goes only to 240 °C, you need to preheat the stone a little longer. Then put the bread, give the water to steam, close rapidly the door of the oven and immediately  lower the temperature to 220°C. The stone will keep the temperature a moment then il will decrease lowly and you will have exactly the conditions of baking the french bread : the decreasing temperature is important.

If you like the parisian brioche, i have a very good recipe with  T 55 flour.

 

Graid's picture
Graid

Thank you for your advice! Yes I was aware that 'bastard' was the meaning of the word, that was kind of what made me hestitant in case I was wrong, as it would sound quite ridiculous. I do in fact like brioche. I have had the pleasure of having it in actual France as well, though in Normandy, not Paris. 

 

BarbaraK's picture
BarbaraK

Hi Graid

I'm in the UK too and bought my Wessex Mill French Bread Flour T65 from one of my local farm shops - two pounds 19 pence for 1.5 kg..  If you don't have such a shop you can order it on-line which unfortunately adds a delivery charge to the cost so it's worth calling around locally.

I would prefer to use organic but haven't found one locally yet.

Marie-Claire -

Yes please could you post your brioche recipe.  Thank you very much.

Barbara

Graid's picture
Graid

Okay, so I did a comparison test today with Organic 'Doves' Farm' British flour, and while I have gotten decent results after 2 days+ of refrigeration with British makes of flour, after only 15 hours in the fridge, the loaf produced was inferior in pretty much all ways to the French version.

There is no pleasant flavour, the bread is pretty tasteless, and the texture is if anything MORE dense and lacking in any airy holes. About the only positive difference was that it didn't burn as easily, but the crust wasn't even as good. 

I suppose it needs to be in the fridge for longer to develop much in the way of airiness. Only the French dough apparently doesn't deal with that as well. Confusing.

Marie-Claire's picture
Marie-Claire

I translate the recipe of the brioche into English, and I come soon again...

BarbaraK's picture
BarbaraK

Thank you so much. I'm sure I'm not the only one really looking forward to it when you have the time.

Marie-Claire's picture
Marie-Claire

FRENCH BRIOCHE

For 1 big or 2 little brioche
(My mold for one brioche is 3 liters capacity : 12 cm (4,7 inch) wide, 30 cm (12 inch)  long and 10 cm (3,9 inch) high. If you have a smaller mold, make 2 brioches)

500 g  T 55 flour
18 g fresh yeast
50 g milk
60 g sugar
5 eggs  (they must weigh 250 grams without the shell)
12 g salt
250 g butter at room temperature (do not skimp on the quality of the butter as it is largely responsible for the final taste of the brioche)

Prepare the leaven :
• Take 125 g of flour, add the yeast and milk. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Put in a bowl and cover with a cloth. Place in a warm place (24-28 ° C). Let ferment 45 minutes. After 45 minutes of rest, it will more than double in size.

Prepare the final dough :
• Mix the remaining flour with the sugar and eggs. Knead 3 minutes. This gives you a very firm dough. Let rest (autolyse) the same time as the leaven.

• Meanwhile, knead the butter in your hands to make it nice and soft and smooth.

• Then, after the rest of the leaven and the dough, mix the two masses and knead until the dough no longer sticks. Only at this point, add the butter and finish by kneading until the dough comes away alone workplan if you knead by hand, or the bowl robot (it should clump together into a single mass on the hook). It takes about 10 to 15 minutes of kneading.

• Put the dough in a bowl, cover with a cloth and let rest 40 minutes. Degas the dough and then let it rest again for 1 hour. (a total time of rest of 100 minutes).

• Then cover with plastic wrap and put it in the bottom of the fridge. And forget for at least 2 hours. It can stay 18 hours. Longer is better.

• Remove the dough from the fridge. (You'll see, it will be all swollen and bulging). Spill it on the worktop. Flatten with hand to remove any gas.
Divide into 8 balls about 125 grams, and put them side by side in one or two buttered molds. The balls should fill one third of the capacity of the mold.

• Cover with a cloth and leave to ferment in a warm place until the dough reaches the top of the mold. Usually depending on the temperature, it takes 2 hours.

• Preheat the oven to 220 ° C. Before baking brioches Glaze them with beaten egg with a brush. The cooking time is 30 to 45 minutes depending on size. We know they are cooked when:
1) it smells good in the kitchen
2) they are nicely browned on top
3) it sounds hollow when tapped on them

They are demolded at the exit from the oven and left to cool on a grid.

Enjoy !


shoshanna673's picture
shoshanna673

Bonjour Marie-Claire from South Australia!  Thank you so much for your brioche recipe.  I make my own brioche, as here in Adelaide it is almost impossible to find brioche, let alone good brioche.  I don't have access to French flour down here and make it with bread flour, which although is OK is probably not as as good as your flour.  But it still tastes pretty good.  I usually make Michel Roux's recipe, but will now try your recipe.  I usually use 6 eggs and 350g butter.  Very naughty, but nice.

Sondra

Marie-Claire's picture
Marie-Claire

Hi Sondra !

I think bread flour is also good. The french T 55 is  a all-purpose flour. And with so much butter and eggs, it is surely very very tasty !

"Avec du beurre, tout est meilleur ".
(With butter, all is better)

Hello from France  to Australia !

BarbaraK's picture
BarbaraK

Thank you so much Marie-Claire for the lovely recipe and the hard work entailed in translating everything so beautifully. I can't wait to eat it.

I only have T65 flour at the moment and I expect you will say that it would be better to wait until I have T55 which I will order.

Marie-Claire's picture
Marie-Claire

I hope i have not done too many faults in my translation. It's nice here, i am perfecting my English at the same time as the bakery. ;-)

BarbaraK's picture
BarbaraK

No you did a great job!  Lovely.

The only word which perhaps might  mislead someone is "simmer" instead of "rest.   Simmer in English is used to mean boiling

extremely  slowly on top of the gas or electric stove - as in soup or sauce.  I hope you don't mind me mentioning it as I wouldn't even begin

to be able to translate as well as you. It seems rather  but I thought perhaps you would like to know.

 

Cheers

Barbara

Marie-Claire's picture
Marie-Claire

Oh yes, i mean "rest" or "ferment" thank you, i edit the message and i correct it !

There is not a lot sugar in this receipe, the parisian brioche has not much sugar. So you can use it also for sandwiches (very good sadwiches),  with ham, or at breakfast with marmelade. You do't need butter because the brioche is very rich in butter !

Have a good day !

Graid's picture
Graid

So today I baked with the first batch of T65 flour I got from Wessex Mill. The results were far better in texture than either T55 or British flour, and the flavour just FAR better than British flour. I don't know if it tasted quite as quintessentially French as the T55 stuff from Shipton mill, but still, so much flavour. Even after only 12 hours fermentation or so in the fridge.

However, I do note that the flour contains asorbic acid and malt flour as additives, which possibly give it an unfair advantage in texture and taste! In any case, pleased with it! Lighter texture than either of the other flours, and good taste.