The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Flour Question - Using Half-White/High Extraction/T85

ifs201's picture
ifs201

Flour Question - Using Half-White/High Extraction/T85

I have been using KA bread flour and whole wheat on all of my bakes until this past weekend. I bought a big sack of Farmer Ground Flour's Half White Bread Flour. The flour looks and feels amazing, but I was a bit surprised with both of the loaves I made using it (a chocolate sourdough and a chipotle sourdough). For the chili sourdough I used 20% whole wheat and 80% of the half-white.

I have no experience using half-white bread flour. Is it going to act like something between whole wheat and white or would it be expected to act pretty close to a normal white bread flour? 

This is a description I found of the flour: "Here we have real bread flour, grown right in the North East. Also sometimes called “half-white," "European" or "brown" flour.  This flour averages between 12.5 and 13.5% protein.  It contains all the original germ and a small portion of the original bran to create flour of medium lightness.  Slightly darker in color than conventional white flours, but much closer in performance to a white flour than a whole wheat.  This sort of high-extraction flour is what in Europe would be called “T-85,” the same sort of flour used by the Poilan Bakery to make their world-famous Miche." 

 

Many thanks,

Ilene

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

That sounds like a great product you've bought Ilene.  I don't know how "big" that sack is.  But because T-85 contains all the germ, it also contains all the oil which means it can go off (oil > rancid) and is best stored cold or better, frozen, unless you bake enough to race through it before it loses its luster.

[Edit:  From Farmer Ground Flour's website that I just found: "We make freshness a priority, milling our organic grains to order. Please keep your flour in a cool, dry place and be mindful of the “best by” date on the bag.  To extend the life of your flour, store it refrigerated or frozen. That said, Farmer Ground wants you to have a fresh supply of local flour. We recommend that you buy our flour in small quantities that can be used pronto. For optimum flavor, please consume our products within 1-2 months of purchase."  Frustratingly little more specific info about the products.]

T-85 is a French designation and I'm no expert on the use of French flours.  But if you search TFL with "T-85", as I just did, you'll find several posts by some of the site's most accomplished bakers, particularly David Snyder (a 2013 miche) and several by Josh/golgi70 that were predictably exquisite (Josh is/was a pro).  Another appropriate source for tested formulae would be Tartine 3, in which Chef R. calls for high extraction flour practically throughout, to the frustration of many home bakers to whom high extraction flour is not exactly readily available - though an AP+ww substitute is suggested by the author.

T-85 is indeed supposedly the majority component of Poilâne's renowned miche, but who knows what's actually in those loaves -- its a closely guarded trade secret*.  Given their unfashionably close crumb (Poilâne pre-dates Instagram ;-), and that posted by David Snyder for that matter, be forewarned that T-85 performs neither as AP nor as whole wheat, not surprisingly.  Its high extraction will compromise crumb air if used in high proportion.  Probably best to experiment with a range of proportions of it until it gives you a crumb you are happy with.  But even at 100% it would make a great loaf, just too dense to rocket you to Instagram Influencer status 😢.

Looking forward to hearing how it works for you.  And great to hear a local NE mill is doing that.  Do they tell you what wheat variety it comes from?  That would fit.

Tom

________

* I actually have the draft of a short story lying around somewhere about a hapless Parisian baker who is so desperate for culinary stardom that he tries to romance the formula out of Apollonia Poilâne herself 😳.

ifs201's picture
ifs201

Tom,

Thanks for this. I was just looking through some of the other TFL posts on baking with T-85. Very good reminder to freeze or at least refrigerate some of the flour. I ended up buying 25 lbs which is definitely too much for my average of 2 loaves/week, but buying 25lbs was half the price per pound of buying lesser quantities. Now i just need to find some room in my freezer! 

I might try 50% regular white bread flour in my next bake to see if I like the crumb a bit better. I've never gotten a super open crumb, but the 80% T85 and 20% whole wheat was a bit denser than I like. 

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

Good place to start.  

I was obsessed with Poilâne back when I started baking - they were the ideal.  Romantic notion about classic wfo Parisian baking.  I've still only tasted it in London where it's often packaged pre-sliced and never like I imagine from the Paris Cherche Midi shop.  🙏 someday.

fwiw, this Poilâne image (cropped - that's Apollonia's hand :-) of their proofed loaves ready for oven loading is a good reminder esp. for me that my "to the top of the banneton" habit is probably an invitation to over-proofing.

Cheers,

Tom

ifs201's picture
ifs201

I don't even own a banneton. I find my loaves barely rise at all during my overnight ferment in the fridge. Mysteries... 

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

And I hope there's a banneton in your future :-). 

In winter, when it's a challenge to shepherd loaves through BF in our <60˚F kitchen, they often seem to totally sleep through overnight fridge retard, like you say.  But in summer, when they enter the fridge with some heat-momentum, they can come out disappointingly higher than Poilâne's in that picture.

Do you bulk ferment around 78˚F?  That's where I do it.

Tom

ifs201's picture
ifs201

I keep on debating whether or not to get a banneton. I actually did buy one, but then returned it! We live in NYC so I try to be verrrrrrrrrrry careful about everything I let enter the apartment and I can't tell if it would really have an impact on the quality of the loaf or not. That said, I did just haul home 25lbs of flour that I found room for in a closet!

I only started baking this spring and it's been quite hot. On average, I've been bulk fermenting at 80-84 degrees which is hotter than I'd like, but it's been hot in our apartment. 

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

Sounds tight.  fwiw, bannetons are stackable with kitchen bowls :-).  Oblong [batard] brotforms not so much.

80-84˚ is warm for BF.  Not dangerous/criminal, but warm.  Keep a close eye.  Surprised they screech to a halt in the fridge overnight.  That temp would impart overnight fermentation momentum to mine for sure.  You can anticipate some significant seasonal variation in your doughs' behavior over the coming cooler months.  That'll be a great teacher of fermentation finesse.  I'll be forever learning to roll with the seasons since we are total cheapskates about heating and cooling our home.

Tom

agres's picture
agres

I (sometimes) use a plastic colander lined with a piece of smooth, floured cloth.  My big mold that I use for large loaves, was the spinning part of an old salad spinner. The salad spinner went to heaven, but the new salad spinner is not quite the right shape, so the heart of the salad spinner lives on. Sometimes I use a plastic colander that fits in a plastic bowl from a Chinese store. (I bought the set for $1.79.) It has smaller holes and just wipe it with oil. The outer bowl helps keep the dough from forming a skin. It gets covered with a shower cap.  (It's day job is washing and sprouting beans.  Some nights, I let it cuddle with the dough.)