Friday, April 16, 2010

Type 550 flour

I had a chance to try out European type 55 flour. The German classification is 550 which is an indication of the ash content of the flour. I had tried it out on baguettes and the result was acceptable as it was the first time I had used an European flour.

So far, I have been using mostly flour from the US. Typically, American flours absorb a lot more water and I had to modify my recipes significantly. This is one aspect of baking that is difficult to convey as the only way to know a dough is by getting your hands into it. I get emails from fellow home-bakers asking me about recipes and other aspects of baking. I try to answer as best as I can although deep in my heart, I know that these answers are far from adequate.

I know this by experience after reading and trying out the recipes by the well known masters. No matter how well written the instructions are, the chances of the bread turning out exactly as the author intended is slim. The reason is simple. The ingredients and environment are different. However, over time as one becomes more experienced, one will know what adjustments to make to increase chances of success.

Coming back to the flour, other than absorbing less water, I noticed that it was ground much finer than the Prima flour that I was using. For this bake, I wanted to see how it will fare with the addition of 40% WW. The pre-ferments for this bake was the entire WW portion plus 10% of my refreshed sourdough culture. The dough felt slack even though the hydration was a mere 70%. As usual, my bakes typically end late into the night and the lighting in my kitchen is less than ideal for good photographs. The consolation for this is the anticipation of sinking my teeth into a slice with a good cup of Sumatran Mandheling coffee the next morning.

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