I recently bought a new mixer, Electrolux Assistent and while learning to use it went to my friends house where we did two batches of the same dough, using bread flour on one and AP on the other. The forumla was Pain Italien from Benard Clayton's New complete Book of Breads. Using bread flour we acheived a sticky dough that was hard to move to an oiled bowl, where the AP batch was like a baby's hind end, smooth and satiny, no stickiness what so ever. Both breads turned out well and I'm told that all's well that ends well. Both batches where weighed and used the same scale.
But then I go home and do it again, but I use a locally milled flour ($23.39/25Kgs) that just says, "hard wheat flour". Thats it, no content notes or food value breakdowns as to protein content. I don't know where the wheat comes from, US, Australian, China? Your guess is as good as mine. All I know is the stickiness is always there.
OK, so my friend thinks nothing of buying the best of what ever, where as my income is only 1/2 of his and I have to watch my pennies. Now what can I add to get the smooth satiny finish that his AP flour provided? The bread always comes out good, but not as nice to work with.
Another thing that I'm inquisitive about is B. Clayton calls for a first rise of 3Xs the original size. What is the reasoning behind this as most recipes only call for doubling the first rise? Thx for your thoughts.