The Fresh Loaf

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good flour and where can I get it

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richawatt's picture
richawatt

good flour and where can I get it

I am trying to find some better flours for making my bread, mainly baguette and I was wondering if anyone knew where I can get a good eauropean qhality flour.  I have been unsing King Arthur bread flour and have just started using Gold Medal harvest king better for bread flour.  I like the taste of the Gold Medal better then king Arthur.  But I was wondering if there was something availabe to me that would be better then the both of them. 

holds99's picture
holds99

I have successfully used K.A. French style flour for baguettes and have had good results.  It's not cheap but it does a good job.  I ordered 3 - three pound bags on-line from K.A.  The French style flour is slightly lower in protein than either the all-purpose or bread flour and has a higher ash (mineral) content.  As I recall, from reading the label on the bag, it has 3 g protein per 30 g of flour, which would be around 10% as opposed to 11-11.5% for a.p. and bread flour.  I also think I recall reading that the French boulangers use a No. 55 flour (repeat, I think) which isn't available in the U.S.  If you're using a.p. or bread flour for baguettes you can compensate with slightly higher hydration, "stretch and fold" and gentle handling of the dough throughout the process especially during dividing and shaping.  I mostly use K.A. all-purpose for boules, baguettes and batards but I have seen posts on this site that say Gold Medal and other flours are equally good.  I prefer K.A. because it works well for me and it's available at the local supermarket.  Re: baguettes, you've selected one of the most, if not the most, difficult of challenges.  I've been trying to replicate a Parisian baguette for 10 years...and am still at it.  I would describe it as something akin to searching for the Holy Grail.  Maybe it's the water in Paris :-)

Good luck.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

richawatt's picture
richawatt

thanks for the info, im going to try and get some of that KA french style, and see how that works for me. 

Hadster's picture
Hadster

Aside from the difficulty in finding good flour, there is also the oven issue.  Those baguettes we dream of were, (probably), baked in a large brick oven that constantly has bread going in and out of it creating the perfect humidity and the heat comes from all the walls but is NOT a convection type oven with a fan and the bakers themselves have had to study and apprentice for years and years.  The French are very serious about their bread.

All I can say is that I've been trying for years as well, still at it.  My only advice would be to keep notes, actual written notes, on what you do, your recipe, even the local weather and house temperature.  Keep records of your recipe, ingridents, proof times etc, and the results.  You'll find a pattern and can work on it.

Hadster

Hoboken, NJ

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

About six months ago I ordered 10# of Authentic French Type 55 Flour from Filbert Food Services (I found the company in a thread posted here awhile back). It's been great to work with. Iis milled in French specifications in Turkey.

www.filbertfood.com

 

Trish

holds99's picture
holds99

Trish,

Really appreciate you posting the link to Filbert for the Type 55 flour.  Somehow I missed it wnen it was originally posted or it wss posted before I became a member. 

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I did a comparison test of the Filbert T-55 when it was first available about a year ago. At the time I was also working on trying to replicate the Parisian Baguette to the best of my ability. It was good flour but a little pricey and they didn't have anything worked out for shipping that made sense as I recall. Here is the link to the test that I posted here.
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2846/t-55-flour-test 

My overall opinion at this time is that Gold Medal harvest King or KA European mix is about the same and it matters more how you handle it and bake it than getting a specific flour.

Hope this helps,
Eric

holds99's picture
holds99

I was just going to write back and ask what kind of experience anyone had with the T-55, then your post came in.  Really appreciate your input on the T-55 flour.  I had the same experience with K.A. French style flour as you had with T-55.  If it was better, it was only marginally better and much more expensive.  I know you're right about gentle handling of the dough i.e. gentle patting down coupled with stretching and folding.  So many times I still see recipes that call for "punching" the dough down and that's a program for failure, especially with baguettes and other higher hydration doughs.  I will check out your T-55 flour test as soon as I finish this note.  Thanks again.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Howard,
When I first saw the Calvel video on french bread preparation and handling I had a breakthrough moment. He is so gentle yet firm with his dough. Also the fine points show that he uses a 68% hydration and is careful not to knead while shaping.

Hope this helps and good luck.
Eric

holds99's picture
holds99

Eric,

Those baguettes are gorgeous, beautiful interior, lovely markings and crust.  Those look as close to Parisian baguettes as I've seen here in the U.S.  I see you made them with starter.  I copied your recipe and instructions and will try them this week. 

EDIT: I still have a bag and half of the K.A. French style flour and will use it when I try your recipe.

Thanks so much, 

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Glad you liked the review Howard. I had forgotten about that and enjoyed revisiting.
I have become a firm believer in gentle handling, cutting the dough into the approximate shape you need, add tension while shaping and stretch gently while rolling. If you use a sourdough preferment or prefermented dough and a small amount of rye you will have yourself a very Parisian Baguette. 68% hydration is key to being able to handle the dough and develop the crumb properly.

Please show us the results and enjoy!
Eric

holds99's picture
holds99

I'm getting some large magnetic numbers (68%) and sticking them on the side of my refrigerator to remind me of the hydration % for baguettes.   I'm going to check out CIA's site as Dolfs suggested and see if they have the Calvel clips in a format that I can either order or download.   Thanks so much for your comments and help. 

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

ehanner's picture
ehanner

The video's I have seen are from or rather were sold by the BBGA a while back. Let me know if you have trouble locating them. I might know a source. The man was a master among masters.

Eric

dolfs's picture
dolfs

The videos I wrote about are the same. The were a coproduction between CIA and BBGA. Recorded at CIA, but sold to BBGA members for $150. They are no longer available through BBGA.


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

holds99's picture
holds99

Dolfs,

I checked the CIA home page and didn't see any listing for them.  Do you know if the videos are avaiable at all at present? 

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Howard the link to dolfs very well crafted paper on the Calvel video is here
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/forums/gear/books-0

He also provides a direct link to the CIA pro-baker page where they sell the Podcast videos. The price is right and the information on these videos is first rate. IMHO anyone who wants to produce really wonderful tasting bread should have these videos and watch them repeatedly until you are aware of all the subtle nuances and handling techniques Calvel uses.

Hope this helps.
Eric

holds99's picture
holds99

Eric, 

Just added the CIA link to my Bread Baking "Favorites" and will check it out this afternoon.  I am really interested in the vidos.  Thanks again.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

dolfs's picture
dolfs

I just learned via the BBGA mailing list that this "is only a fraction" of the original material on the tapes BBGA used to make available. Nonetheless, I find it very worthwhile.


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I think it's a shame that such a potentially important training aid hasn't been more widely distributed. Calvel is or was one of the most masterful teachers on the subject and donated his services to the BBGA and CIA. I'm disappointed that the video hasn't been easier to obtain for a reasonable price.

Eric

dolfs's picture
dolfs

I've just received the following email, after Mike Avery and I commented:

Dolf, Mike and all members interested in Guild educational resources,
The absence of the materials on the web site is due to web site maintenance.
 
The Calvel videotapes, sourdough audio tapes, Camp Bread DVDs ('Science of Preferments', 'Techniques in Lamination), shirts, etc. are available and in stock in the new Pittsburgh office. (Several books are available through the office, however, a more extensive collection is available on the site via an Amazon link.) 

A great resource--especially for new members--are back issues of the newsletter. They cost $7.50/year (four action packed issues per year) and publication began in 1993. Newsletters from 2004 to present are posted on the member page of the website.

The items will be back on the website or you can send Krista an email and she will help you out with what you want or need. 

This only for BBGA members (and if you are, you'll know how to reach the office or Krista). I assume the price for the tapes is still $150 (as it once was), and that there still are only tapes (VHS). I did make a plug to have these turned into DVDs.

I suspect the cost is the result of the cost of the videography done (even if Prof. Calvel did his work for free), and production costs, divided by a small audience. It is perhaps the classical trade of between high price and few sales, or lower price and more sales, not knowing which results in more revenue. I think that the CIA with its episode based approach and web delivery is probably doing better. 





--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures
holds99's picture
holds99

My understanding is that Calvel is sort of the August Escoffier of breadmaking.  If I had unlimited funds I would attempt to buy the rights to ALL those tapes, get them edited and make them available, in the form of reasonably priced DVDs, to all interested parties.  I think that they're that important.  All the marketing indicators are there.  We're talking about the Gone With The Wind of bread baking videos sitting in the studio vault, so to speak.  I believe this could be a real "cash cow" for the BBGA, sort of like an endowment, if they could raise enough money to produce the DVDs.  Does Steven Speilberg do bread?

Howard - St. Augustine, FL