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Articles & Advice

Getting started artisan bread baking
  • Get the lowdown on Vanessa Kimbell's latest book - The Sourdough School

    The Sourdough School Book by Vanessa Kimbell. Published by Kyle Books. Photography by Nassima Rothacker.

    Q&A with Vanessa

    Patrick: Tell me a little about for whom the book was written? Vanessa: The book is for all levels. From beginners who have never baked sourdough to advanced home bakers. I think it is also important to state clearly that this book is aimed at the home baker. I wrote it for everyone who wants to make sourdough bread by hand, and it’s full of delicious, fantastically voluptuous, beautifully crusty, homemade bread. There’s lots of information that guides you through the art of baking sourdough. It’s a book for anyone who want to really understand sourdough, and learn how to bake great tasting, nutritious bread. Continue reading

  • French Flour from Foricher FAQ

    What is the “T” system for French flour? The number following the T denotes the amount of ash (and so bran) left in the flour. T45 (pastry flour) is very white flour, T55 and T65 are the “standard” white bread flours (similar to Italian 00) and T80 is slightly darker. T110 is brown (some of the bran removed) and T150 is wholemeal. What is “Biologique” flour? Biologique is simply French for “organic”. What is “CRC” flour? CRC is a French certification label for flour concerning its provenance. To have CRC certification, the flour must be grown with crops...

  • My recipe asks for "malt powder" - which do I choose?

    "Malt powder" is quite a vague term, as you will read below. The one to choose depends on what the malt powder is being used for in order to discern which the author intends. A natural improver Diax (diastatic malt powder) is cream coloured and used in very small quantities (10g per 1000g flour). It is used as a natural improved, giving more lift and a better crumb. Too much and the dough becomes sticky. It is used in malt loaves for example, to increase the sticky texture of the bake. A natural colouring Nut-brown malt powder (and...

  • Heritage flour is the latest thing

    One thing we’re often asked by customers is how to best use the Lammas Fayre heritage flours. Given the current interest in heritage grains, it’s not surprising and we’re keen to help out with ideas and recipes. Some bakers it seems, are a little nervous about using these flours. It is understandable that they are worried that ancient wheat varieties might be more challenging to work with and some customers have voiced concerns that this kind of flour may not give good results when used for modern recipes. I can honestly...

  • Vanessa Kimbell answers our Sourdough Questions

    Sourdough Special Many of you know Vanessa as our in house baker for Bakerybits, but she is often referred to as The Queen of Sourdough because day-to-day she teaches domestic bakers to make sourdough at the Sourdough School in Northamptonshire. She has a special interest in bread in relation to health, and is also a regular contributor to the BBC Radio 4 food Programme, and an award-winning author, and writing her third book .. this time on Sourdough! ( at last!) What do you love about sourdough? I have a particular interest in sourdough for health. Research...

  • How get a Sourdough starter

    How do I get a starter? This is a question I get asked often, and there are many different ways to get a starter going. You could make your own.  It can take from a few days to a couple of weeks depending on the flour you use and the temperature. It’s uniquely satisfying and fun, but many people loose patience and give up, or do not recognise when it is ready.   A reputable and supported sourdough starter such as the one sold by Bakerybits is a fast way to get going because it has a...

  • Sharpham Park's Story of Spelt

    One of the farms leading the resurgence in British spelt growing is Sharpham Park near Glastonbury in Somerset. Owner of Sharpham Park, Roger Saul, cheerfully explains how organic spelt is “dead in the water in terms of commercial farming”. The crop yields at best two tonnes per acre, compared to the four tonnes or more you can get from wheat, albeit with a hefty input of fertilizer. You then need to factor in crop rotation – spelt can be grown on the same land for a year or two, but then the soil fertility needs to be rebuilt by growing...

  • How to use a banneton.

    We've got some new bannetons at bakery bits, and they are beautiful.  They are made from sustainable seagrass grown and hand-woven by rice growers in rural Vietnam. I can't recommend using a banneton highly enough to give you a great crust a good structure to your bread - they are to just for sourdough, but any dough that makes bread. Using your banneton. This is a short video on how to use your Banneton.

  • Autolyse – What, Why & How

    Autolyse is a technique that is easily introduced into your bread making routine and delivers a dough that’s easier to work with and shape, and a loaf with better texture, rise and flavour. It’s a deceptively simple process. Just combine the flour and water in a bowl and mix until no dry flour remains. Do not be tempted to knead.  Simply cover the bowl and leave it in a warm place for anything from 20 minutes to up to 3 hours. During this resting stage, gluten development begins and simple sugars start to form as starch is broken down. Although...

  • So what makes a healthy loaf of bread without compromising on flavour?

    Bread is an important part of most of our diets. The flour used and the way the dough is made can have a significant impact on the healthiness of the baked bread. So what makes a healthy (and tasty) loaf and how to make one without compromising on flavour? Re-evaluating your daily loaf is really important, and rather than making drastic and unsustainable changes to your diet, what simple techniques will drastically improve the nutrition of home baked bread? The first thing to consider is choosing your flour carefully, to maximise the nutritional value. Make the most of...

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