The road to Ben Nevis Nov 2009

The road to Ben Nevis Nov 2009
The road to Ben Nevis Nov 2009

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Sunday, 26 August 2012

Baker's delight

Getting great flour is not so difficult in this Internet age, but getting flour at a reasonable price is not so easy.

I recently spotted the story of a home baker scaling up - Birch Cottage Bread. An interesting subject for me as my Kenwood mixer bought specially for preparing dough had stopped working, and I was feeling a need to make more bread in less time. I quizzed Lucie about equipment and flour. It is from her I learned that Amazon can be a good source for flour.

There's lots of flours with all sorts of qualities, but brown breads for me have to be made with stoneground flour. Organic or not? I'm undecided - although I use mostly organic. A favourite is from Waitrose with a great texture and flavour. 
There are many craft millers up and down the country who can sell flour on-line but the killer is delivery charges which can add upto 50% on the price. Amazon somehow absorb the delivery costs, and will even provide a discounted price for regular monthly orders.
Bacheldre mill is an example of a miller that delivers to customers via Amazon. With prices around £1 per kilo for 16 kilo bags this beats the best supermarket prices for a similar product but of unknown provenance.

Buying at the mill can be another way of saving on delivery cost. I managed to do this recently at Cann mills near Shaftesbury. There's not a lot to see, but to hear the clatter of the equiment and to talk to the miller about the flour all serves to build the anticipation of using it.
My target was his 100% Wholemeal Organic Wheat flour, but of course there's a whole range of flours available. I ended up also with a large bag of his 81% organic flour too which is produced by filtering out some of the bran. I always imagined this was made by adding white flour to the 100% - so this was a learning for me!
 The upper picture shows the 100%, while the lower the 81%. If you look closely at any of these flours they have a characteristic texture which I consider 'oily' from stonegrinding.

Having baked both flours several times now with conventional yeast for the 100% and using a sourdough starter for the 81% there's nothing to say against them. A taste test? That's a bit difficult - none of my subjects can definitively say they prefer this over the other stoneground flours I use.

I recently read a rave review of some organic white flour which made 'fabulous' pizza, so I did buy one small bag of Stoates Stoneground Organic Strong White (£2.20 for 1.5kg) - this had a lovely creamy colour. In a Pizza bake-off against Sainsbury Strong White (70pence for 1.5kg) - it was almost indistiguishable, so I'll be continuing to buy some flour in the supermarket!

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