Sunday, March 30, 2008

Flour Test - Shipton Mills Bread Flour
I was given a bag of Shipton Mills bread flour recently. It was a gift I appreciated greatly. Although it is 'just a bag of flour' you may say, it was certainly no ordinary bag of flour. Perhaps, more important than the exclusivity of the product, it is the token of the friendship it represents that mattered even more to me.

It was not the first time that I had tried Shipton mills flour. Another friend had given me a bag of Shipton mills wholewheat flour before but at that time, I did not have much luck with it. It was never documented because so many things went wrong that time, including a disaster with the camera.

Now that I have a chance to play with the Shipton mills flour again, I did the test with great reverance. The flour that I was given the last time was hand carried all the way from the UK. Even if this flour had been available in Singapore, I'd have to contemplate three times before I part with my limited 'dough'. My friend mentioned in passing that it was $18 a bag and that's a little too steep for me.

Using my standard test recipe for a white loaf, the flour weight was 40oz with 70% hydration. I used my lazy baker process for this test as I was expecting a plumber to relocate a pipe in the garden. The yeast used was only 1 teaspoon. Salt was 2%. The dough sat for about 12 hours in the fridge and this morning, it was given 2 folds before it was baked. During the folding, I noticed that the extensibility of the dough was markedly different from my regular flour.

The bread was baked for around 40 mins. The oven spring was outstanding and when I took them out from the oven, the crust crakled. After it had cooled, I ate a slice with butter and my conclusion is that it really is a great flour. The aroma was what I love in this kind of bread. I guess taste is something very personal and it is inevitable that different people have different tastes. However, I couldn't help feeling that those who prefer the sweet soft breads are missing out on something really good.

My verdict? The shipton mills flour is great and I'd surely use it more regularly if I had the extra money. For those who can afford it, it is worth every penny. After all, Dan Lepard and Linda Collister couldn't be wrong.

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