Most helpful positive review
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Amazing bread - with a little practice.
on 18 December 2012
Firstly, let me say (as has already been mentioned) this flour will not give you a pure white loaf and it might take a couple of goes to get use to it but the taste is fantastic so it's well worth the effort. I consider myself an experienced baker, producing around half a dozen loaves a week, mostly using my own sourdough starter, but, having been used to using Alinsons Very Strong Flour, it took me a couple of attempts to get it right. Without teaching anyone to suck eggs, here's a couple of tips that might be helpful.
If you're using the sourdough long fermentation method (12 hours or more), don't overwork the dough as you'll develop the gluten too much and this is not VERY strong flour. Just a few minutes kneading to get everything working together is enough. Then ferment it overnight in a cool place (you could use the fridge or, in winter, a cold room). When you come to knocking back and proving, just a gentle kneading is enough but you'll probably have to prove it for an hour to an hour and a half in a warm place (using a proving basket is best so that it doesn't go too flat) until it has just about doubled in size. Remember to preheat the oven well to around 220C (I use a baking stone consisting of a thick piece of granite and cover the baking loaf with one of those old-fashioned brown mixing bowls, which, or course, should also be preheated) and slash the top deeply with a grignette (cheap to buy and must for good baking). Bake for around 20-25 minutes then turn the oven down to 200 and bake for a further 20-25 minutes. Oh, forgot to say, this is for a big loaf (1.5 lbs of flour, a smaller loaf will, of course, take less time). I can promise (well, almost) that you'll produce a loaf that will taste better than anything you've ever eaten and it will disappear straight away! Hope this is helpful. Happy baking.
Since writing the above I've read Chad Robertson's 'Tartine Bread' and it's completely changed the way I bake, producing the most fantastic bread with this and other Bacheldre flours. Instead of kneading, it involves folding the dough from time to time during a long bulk fermentation. It sounds complicated at first, probably due to his very detailed description and photographs - but, in practice it's pretty intuitive. The bread is amazing: thick, dark crusts with a moist, open crumb and a flavour that's incredible. It's a superb book that every home baker should read.