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Expert Advice

  1. What is… strong flour

    What is… strong flour What is… strong flour. I guess by the name strong flour has strength, but what does that mean? If a particular flour contains high-quality protein that in tests produce a elastic, resilient dough, then it’s correct to describe it as strong flour. In the USA the more straightforward term “bread flour" is used, and baking bread is what strong flour should be good for, or wherever... Read more...
  2. What is… plain flour

    What is… plain flour Ok, so plain flour in the UK is "cake and pastry flour", am I right? Maybe. Or not. The thing is, it’s not a specific thing, and that makes it hard to categorise. Bread flour – called strong flour in the UK – is generally assumed to have good levels of gluten, probably something around 11-14% protein, and score pretty well on strength and resilience tests;  however plain ... Read more...
  3. What is …the meaning of the 0 numbers on Italian flour

    What is …the meaning of the 0 numbers on Italian flour So I’ve read that 00 Italian flour is the best for bread and pizza, is that true? Forse sì, forse no. That’s Italian for maybe yes, maybe no. With that phrase alone you can go a long way in Italy, and get into some very tricky situations. See, the thing is those zero numbers have nothing to do with the doughmaking characteristics of the flour, but really only tell how finely it... Read more...
  4. What is… the T-system for categorising French flour

    What is… the T-system for categorising French flour Confused about these numbers in the names of many French flours: from T45 up to T150?  Then find out here just what the French T-system for grading flour is all about.Choose the flour that’s right for what you want to bake…ideal for baguettes:Matthews French T55 Belle BlancA great general-purpose baguette flour, with excellent elasticity and stretch with low stickiness. The wheat... Read more...
  5. How to...make a sourdough starter

    How to...make a sourdough starter What is a sourdough starter? A sourdough starter is a slow-rising mixture of flour and water, containing both yeast and bacteria, that together produce gas bubbles, a sour flavour, and a bright acidic aroma. Using it gives the bread a distinctive flavour, an irregular aeration, and a slightly waxy appearance to the crumb. The yeast and bacteria contained in the sourdough starter mostly come from... Read more...
  6. French CRC Flour: quality flour from France

    French CRC Flour: quality flour from France It’s common today for millers to tell you about the way grain is grown and the accreditation they have for making the claims they do – such as Soil Association, Organic Farmers & Growers, Red Tractor, for example – as many of us do care about how grain is grown, the pesticides and herbicides used, and how this affects agriculture, the land and biodiversity. Increasingly, the issue of ... Read more...
  7. Dan Lepard's guide to soft buns and bread

    Dan Lepard's guide to soft buns and bread There are times when want the heartiest, chewy, jaw-aching crust on my bread with a slightly waxy, vaguely dense crumb (open-texture optional), but other times…well, I like bread a little more insubstantial. In a world once filled with cotton-wool bread, in days gone by (ok, the 1990s), I used to long for the sturdy muscle of a great sourdough, laced with rye and wholewheat and felt sad ... Read more...
  8. Mockmill: the tabletop flour mill that's revolutionising baking

    Mockmill: the tabletop flour mill that's revolutionising baking Bespoke milling is the hottest must-do in artisan baking today, and a Mockmill - a home tabletop electric grain mill - allows you to mill exactly what you want when you want it, giving you the ultimate control over the final grains – what millers call the grist, as in the saying “grist for the mill” – that will become your flour. Check out our deal on a Mockmill 100, ... Read more...
  9. David Atherton on Hot Cross Buns

    David Atherton on Hot Cross Buns Hot cross buns are a favourite of mine and although I like most Easter foods – Simnel Cake, Easter Eggs, and those chocolate crispy cakes with mini eggs on to – I am completely obsessed with hot cross buns and bake these for an extended Easter period. Who know, perhaps even into Summer. A rich yeasty glazed bun that toasts to perfection, packed with flavour and amazing fruit, that just needs a... Read more...
  10. Sourdough confidential: how to keep your starter active

    Sourdough confidential: how to keep your starter active Every month I’ll get a message from someone crying out in desperation “HELP, my sourdough starter isn’t working”. Or that’s not bubbly, and occasionally the worry that it might have died altogether. On the latter it’s fairly unlikely that you have every killed it, these yeast and bacteria that make your starter are pretty hardy and just need a few comforts in life to keep them happy. ... Read more...

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