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Crunch from the Cotswolds

In 1912, Frederick William Powell Matthews first opened the FWP Matthews mill in Oxfordshire, near Chipping Norton. He milled the soft wheat that had been grown by local Cotswold farmers to produce flour that was perfect for baking and it was this great quality of the flour and good transport links to the rest of the country that ensured the mill was soon supplying large biscuit manufacturers including Huntley & Palmer and Jacobs.

Today the business is as strong as ever and has remained family-run with Paul and Graham Matthews, who are the great, great grandsons of the founder Frederick William Powell Matthews at the helm.

The next generations have moved the mill forward, diversifying and investing and improving and adapting techniques to keep up with a changing market. In the 1960s when there was a downturn in demand for biscuit flour the mill took a new direction, luckily for us, they moved their focus to providing high quality bread flours to independent bakers. By the 1990s FWP Matthews flours were gaining a serious following among craft and artisan bakers, especially as the interest in real bread and sourdough began to gain momentum. Nowadays the range of flours they offer has grown with demand from both commercial and home-bakers, and the mill now produces both organic and conventional flour – we’ve chosen to stock their organic range.

FWP Matthews still keeps tradition by sourcing as much locally grown wheat as possible. They take pride in blending the grains to get just the right mix for each of their flours. I tried Cotswold Crunch many years ago and really liked the malty flavour of it and have been keen to stock it since starting BakeryBits…Some wheels turn slowly so 8 years on I am delighted to have this special blend of strong white flour, malted wheat flakes and malt flour in stock and I asked Vanessa if she would bake the recipe recommended on the side of the packet so we could all see how it would turn out.

If I am honest I am generally a bit hesitant to follow recipes on the side of packets of flour. I find that they are under-hydrated, but this recipe was spot on. It’s a straightforward simple recipe that produces absolutely delicious bread. A good heavy tin such as the new ones we have in stock will help bake your loaf evenly too. My children gave this bread a real thumbs up and devoured it almost before it had cooled – you can’t say batter that that!

We’ve an introductory offer so you can try the flour for yourselves, see below. Don’t forget our very popular July Cloche offer too!

Vanessa Kimbell runs the Sourdough School, Northampton


Buy the 2lb farmhouse loaf tin and a cube of fresh yeast and we will give you a 1.5kg bag of Cotswold Crunch to try*. Simply put all three items into your basket and use code 2016COTSWOLD.

*While stocks last, valid until 31 July. Only one coupon may be used per order.

Simply put all these into your basket: La Cloche, Gilchesters Organic White Flour 1.5kg, Dough Scraper, Scoring Knife and a sachet of Lev. Then in the checkout use coupon code JULYCLOCHE. We will do the rest, apart from making your first loaf that is.

Recipe: Cotswold Crunch Loaf


1. Place the dry ingredients and fat in a mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook.

2. Dissolve the yeast in the water and add to the bowl. Mix for 8 -10 minutes on a slow speed.

3. Cover and rest for 30 – 40 minutes.

4. Knock back the risen dough and mould to the required shape (and place into the oiled tin).

5. Prove in a warm place until the loaf or loaves double in size (approx 1 hour).

6. Bake at 220°C for 30 – 40 minutes depending on the size of loaf.

(For a lighter textured loaf use 50% Cotswold Crunch & 50% Cotswolds Strong White Flour).

makes: 2 small or 1 large loaf

Ingredients: 700g Cotswold Crunch Flour 15g Salt 25g Fat or Olive Oil 15g Fresh Yeast or a sachet of Dried Yeast 430g Water

Do you have a sourdough question for Vanessa? Send it to us and the best ones will appear in our next postbag edition and receive a dough whisk.

Suggestion Box

Are we missing something? An usual flour, a particular tin, or a special piece of equipment you’d like to see on our shelves? Let us know and if we decide to stock it, you will receive the very first one of the item you suggest.

Don’t forget to take a look at our sale lines.



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