The Fresh Loaf

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Gilchester's Farmhouse Brown Flour - a generous gift from the UK

breadsong's picture

Gilchester's Farmhouse Brown Flour - a generous gift from the UK

Hello everyone,

Andy (ananda) very kindly sent some Gilchester’s Farmhouse Brown flour home with Franko, after Franko’s recent trip to the UK and Czech Republic
Many thanks to both of these generous bakers – Andy for sharing this lovely flour, and Franko, who carefully packed the flour all the way home from the UK, then shipped some of the precious lot to me :^)   

(Isn't it cool how TFL enables us to make friends with people from all parts of the world?)

delighted to see this arrive in the mail: gorgeous, soft, golden, fluffy flour...


I used the flour for two separate bakes of Andy’s Gilchester’s Miche - this formula another fantastic contribution by Andy, but not the best handling of it, on my part...

The first bake (two boules) was under-proofed - to my dismay!, attempting a pretty stencilled pattern, inspired by the Gilchester's website design...
(the leading photo for this post was the "good" side)

before baking, then...                     under-proofing resulting in oven spring

               first boule...can still sort of see the "g" for gilchester's; and the other fared even worse!

Oh, dear.

Looks gave way to flavor and aroma, though: after the baking these loaves had a toasty, almost caramel-like aroma; the crust was crisp, but the crumb soft in texture.
The taste!: tangy, wheaty, even a bit peppery – with a lingering acidity, quite delicious.


Andy encouraged me for the second bake, saying it was better to be on the under-proofed side than
over-proofed, with this flour - given high extraction, fine milling, and lots of enzymes.

Not heeding Andy's advice, the second bake (a mini-miche with the remaining flour), I managed to 
over-proof (proofed for 2.5 hours instead of 2 hours as for the first bake):

baked, with very little movement in the oven          ...and the crumb

crumb might look a little better close up?
...this bread was just as fragrant and flavorful as the first :^)

Thanks again, Andy and Franko - your thoughtfulness resulted in bread with amazing flavor!
I'm thinking this flour must have been recently milled, given its 'fresh' taste - quite fabulous;
causing me to start thinking about home-milling again so I can try to recreate this flavor.

I am very grateful for the chance to bake with this flour - a lovely opportunity!

Happy baking everyone,
:^) breadsong





Mebake's picture

It is such a pleasure to see a bread being replicated by another skilled baker in an other continent. Your version is just as good as andy's.

Lovely open crumb. Your stinciling is an Art, Breadsong.


breadsong's picture

Hi Khalid,
You are very kind and thank you for your generous words!
I always love to see the breads you make where you are, with the beautiful whole grains (and dried fruits!).
It was really wonderful to be given some of this flour, Andy and Franko so thoughtful; and Andy's formula too - this was a 'can't miss' for flavor.
When I saw the pretty design of the Gilchester's website, I was happy I had a patterned stencil that sort of 'fit';
I hand-cut the 'g' stencil and the only thing I'm sorry about is messing it up during the bake!
:^) breadsong

evonlim's picture

lovely.. i love the golden crumb and the beautiful stencil. require lots of patience. thank you for sharing. it's inspiring


breadsong's picture

Hi evon,
While stencilling, I was thinking (rather impatiently), "I really need to get this into the oven", when I could have relaxed and taken my time, allowing the bread some extra proofing :^)
I'm grateful to write about this bread, its lovely flavor and the wonderful flour shared with me!
:^) breadsong

ananda's picture

Hi Breadsong,

Last Thursday night was the hottest night of the year so far here in the North of England.   It remained a steamy 24*C all night.   I was trying to keep a handle on 15kg of white leaven built for my Powburn Show production.   It was ready to use in around 2 hours, after multiple feedings all day to build it up.   So keeping control over 21kg of this Gilchesters' Farmhouse dough the next morning was very challenging indeed.

You've done a great job; the crumb structure is very fine indeed.   But maybe in the heat, it's the bulk time which has to be cut back.   I maintain that the finely ground and mineral-rich flour has a high degree of enzyme activity once made into dough.   Best not to complain about it though.   At least it all means the dough moves.   And I've never felt a need for overnight retard.   You'll have noted the flavour is outstanding anyway.

Interesting that my last delivery of the Gilchesters flour from the wholesaler was a bag short.   Currently the use-by is late November.   So, I guess the flour would have been milled around the end of May.   That means it was indeed fairly freshly-milled when it came to me early June.   This was the batch I sent back with Franko.

You've done a fine job.   I'm afraid the tops of these loaves do tend to crack when I bake them on Nigel's oven.   You can see this in the post I'll be putting up very soon.   But I get more spring on his oven than my patio oven.   And, generally, oven spring is something I like to see in a "hearth-style" bread.

Take good care


breadsong's picture

Hi Andy,
Thank you so much for the flour and your formula, for encouraging me, and so glad you think the bread is okay! Temperatures were warm here when I baked these (July 14 and 21, respectively) and noting what you say about cutting back on the bulk ferment when it's warm.
I had to retard both of these doughs in bulk to varying degrees, the first for three hours and the second for nine (not timing things very well, perhaps not enough fermentation tolerance for the second go round?).
Sorry to hear your shipment was a bag short, but I've been here in Canada all this time, honest :^)
although it would be wonderful to have the luxury of a whole bag of that flour...!
I didn't want to delay in baking with this flour, wondering if Gilchester's might produce smaller batches of flour, more frequently - thinking it might be freshly-milled. The flavor certainly let me to believe so.
And I have the Bacheldre to look forward to, your generosity continuing!
Many thanks and looking forward to your post,
:^) breadsong

dabrownman's picture

and good baker makes some fine bread most every time.  Well done!  This is my kind of white bread.  Just beautiful inside and out and the taste must be just as amazing - and a non retarded bread to boot.  Just think what could be....:-)

Love the stencil too!  My Granny Geraldine would love it even if the cracks mess it up a tiny bit - she would rather have the spring and the holes.

Happy baking

breadsong's picture

Hi dabrownman,
If you could get ahold of this flour you could bake a 'Gloriously Golden Gilchester's for Granny Geraldine' :^)
Thank you so much but I did have to retard the dough in bulk to fit in these bakes.
The first bake for three hours, second bake for nine hours; can't say I can recall a difference in flavor now that time has passed, but each bake had outstanding flavor.
Thank you so much!
:^) breadsong

Franko's picture

Hi breadsong,

Well I think your loaves are lovely,but also know it must have been disappointing for you from an aesthetic standpoint that it cracked your beautiful stenciling. Anyone familiar with your blog and the showcase quality loaves you've produced so many of in the past with this technique, will appreciate the fact that working with an unfamiliar flour such as the Gilchester's would pose a challenge here and there. I certainly found it challenging, and I was using a mix of strong Canadian white flour and the Gilchester's just to make an ordinary un-stenciled loaf. More important to me is the crumb, and you've achieved splendid results on all of these loaves.Open, with terrific gelatinazation,and complimented by an airy crust, these speak flavour to me in every way. I'm so glad I was able to share some of this top quality flour with you breadsong. Next time I can pay a visit to Andy I'll leave more room in my luggage for Gilchester's flour to bring back for us both. 

All the best,


breadsong's picture

Hi Franko,
I can't thank you enough for bring this flour back and sharing it!
I hope your travels do bring you back Andy's way, lovely if you two had the chance to visit again.
Thank you very much for the compliments on the crumb and the flavor of this bread was more than I could have asked for!
:^) breadsong

varda's picture

yet another baker using the famous Gilchester flour.  Your bread looks great.   After seeing all these wonderful breads made with this flour, I wish I could do more than look.   Your stenciling is very beautiful.  And most of the beauty survived through the bake.   That is of course until it got eaten up.  -Varda

breadsong's picture

Hi Varda,
You know, I thought of you and your golden flour when I opened up the package Franko sent and saw the beautiful color :^)  I think you may already have figured out how to get something very close to Gilchester's, due to your exploration of milling and sifting at home (admiring what you've done!).
Thank you and happy you liked the stencil - like the flavor of the bread, good while it lasted!
:^) breadsong

isand66's picture

Even if they are not perfect they look like works of art!  Beautiful baking and excellent looking crumb.



breadsong's picture

Thank you and everyone else for your supportive comments - I really appreciate it!
:^) breadsong

edited to add -
Was just reading a book about photography and in the chapter on Light, found this quote and liked it:
"Ring the bells that can still ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."
- Leonard Cohen

:^) b.

isand66's picture

Love that quote!

thanks for sharing true.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Wow, I haven't seen loaves THIS tempting and this inspiring in a while.  Makes me want to go out and get all kinds of new flours to experiment with.  Nice flour stenciling too!  If I produced crumb like these I would be happy for weeks.

Thank you so much for this post.

Happy baking.


breadsong's picture

Hi John,
It was joy to have the chance to work with this flour, and hope your experimenting brings as much happiness!
Very happy you liked the bread and the stencil - thank you very much for your kind words.
:^) breadsong