The Fresh Loaf

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Ballymaloe Bread Book - Flour Terminology?

Rosalie's picture

Ballymaloe Bread Book - Flour Terminology?

I'm looking through my copy of the Ballymaloe Bread Book by Tim Allen.  It comes out of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland.  I think it's a great book except for the terminology.  Some terms are explained in the book; some I can translate into American fairly easily; some I can figure out from the Internet; and then there's the rest.  I accept that the ingredients in Ireland will be different from what we have in America, but I would at least like to know what what we're talking about.

Here are some of the terms that have caught my eye, just to show you what I'm up against.  There seems to be some inconsistency, with several different terms meaning the same thing.  I don't know if I'm complaining or looking for help, but I know we have people from all over the world on this site, so SOMEONE should know.

flour - This unmodified term is used for several recipes
plain flour – Listed in glossary as, “A multi-purpose flour produced from a blend of soft and hard wheat.”
plain white flour
cream flour - pastry flour???
strong flour – listed in glossary as, “Sometimes called baker’s flour or bread flour.  It has a higher gluten content, being milled from hard wheat.”
strong white flour - Bread flour, I assume
brown flour - ???  Partially refined flour?  Like first clear???
strong brown flour - Is this the high-protein version of brown flour?
wholemeal flour – listed in glossary as, “Sometimes called whole wheat pastry flour, it is made from the whole wheat kernel.”
brown wholemeal flour - ??
yellow meal - corn meal?  The intro to this recipe says, "If you are a polenta lover this bread is for you."
granary flour - Listed in the glossary as, "A mixture of wholemeal, white and rye flour with some malted grains.  Improves keeping time of bread."
kibbled wheat – Listed in glossary as, “Wheat of which the kernel has been gently cracked.”
rye flour
plain rye flour
dark rye flour
PaddyL's picture

Plain flour is all-purpose and strong flour would be our bread flour, generally speaking, but our (Canadian at least) all-purpose could easily stand in for their strong flour.  I baked the sticky buns when I was in Ireland and we had to go out and buy the strong flour.  Kibbled wheat is cracked wheat.  Brown flour...well, you could just use whole wheat I guess, and depending on the recipe, it would be ww all-purpose or ww bread for the yeast breads, and a mixture of ww pastry and all-purpose for the soda breads and scones.  Yellow meal is cornmeal.  Dark rye is presumably pumpernickel rye, though I've only been able to buy generically labelled "rye" flour so that's what I use.  And I have never seen granary flour here, though it is supposed to be available.  I hope this helps.  Have you made anything from this book yet?  I have the e-mail address for Ballymaloe if you'd like it, and have been in touch with Tim Allen.

Rosalie's picture

I have used some recipes.  It is possible to make a good guess even if you don't know exactly.  After all, we do improvise a lot anyway.  But I had to do some research to figure out what a "dessertspoon" was (1 7/8 teaspoons, or, according to sources on the Internet, 2 teaspoons).

One problem is the inconsistencies, that different terms may be used for the same thing.  If "yellow meal" is really the same as "cornmeal", why not use the same term?  All of the terms I listed are used in the book, and I don't know if there are nuanced differences or if two similar terms are really the same.


dougal's picture

"Plain" is English-flour-shopping English for "all purpose".

Its white unless otherwise specified.

And I'd suggest that when a recipe specifies merely "flour", then it shouldn't matter, but likely (white) Plain Flour is what would be expected, though it could also be used to mean "some more of the same flour that you are using in this recipe".

"Plain" might be between 10% and 12% protein.

"Strong" flour would be made from higher protein grain.

"Cream" flour is a new one on me - my first guess would be that "sauce" flour might be indicated. This is rather low protein, and milled more finely (smaller particles) than usual. And it would be a low extraction (white) flour.

However, if someone were talking about "creamy" flour, I'd expect them to be referring to an unbleached flour... Be guided by the context. In isolation, its a strange one.

Wholemeal is wholegrain. With the appropriate proportions of germ and bran, even though in roller milling it would have been separated and then recombined.

We get strong (bread-making) wholemeal in many supermarkets, but for wholemeal plain (lower protein) flours, you have to either hunt, or go to an artisan mill. It makes for rather 'rustic' pastry and cakes...

"Brown". Its not wholemeal. It has only about half the dietary fibre content of wholemeal. And likely much less wheatgerm (which would limit its storage time). And what bran is there is quite finely milled. So, sieve out the big bits of bran, and maybe mix in a little white flour too... and you'll be close.

Brown wholemeal sounds to me as though its just a colour description.

Kibbled wheat is cracked wheat berries.

"Granary" flour is a branded blend - actually (according to the label) its a blend of wheat flours and "flakes" of (rolled) malted grain. The correct generic term (without infringing protected trademarks) is probably 'malthouse' flour. Its for breadmaking so some high protein, some wholemeal, some rye, some malt ground to a flour and maybe 15% of a mixture of whole, rolled and malted, even kibbled, grains... Its the spirit that counts! The malt flavour should be obvious without being overwhelming.

Dark rye flour is wholemeal rye flour. Take out bran progressively and it gets lighter. I'd interpret 'plain rye flour' as meaning a light (low extraction, low fibre) rye.

I'm not a polenta lover, but I think "yellow meal" is wholegrain cornmeal, with the yellow outer of the maize grain included.


Hope some of that is helpful !!


PaddyL's picture

I did see this in Ireland, but I didn't get a chance to look closely at the bag.  I e-mailed my cousin in Wexford, and she thinks it's just another all-purpose flour which might possibly be unbleached, giving the bread a creamy colour.

PaddyL's picture

...plain flour.  I just remembered the flour company, Odlum's, and googled it.

NCavillones's picture

According to a forum post I found when searching for cream flour, the closest American version of cream flour would be cake flour. When my irish soda bread came out wierd, I asked the gals at my local Irish pub. The cook there insisted that I had to use only Odlum's flour to make the bread or it wouldn't come out right.