All Things Bread No.16

Hello Friends of Sourdough!
In today’s All Things Bread we take a closer look at all things Flour! And our Bread Briefing covers a Focaccia recipe, a quick look at the effect of bran on your loaf and a few links that were requested on todays zoom! Finally we have a homework assignment!!! <horrified expression emoji>

All Things Bread
Flour! It’s everything to a baker and especially a sourdough baker. Apart from water and salt, flour is all you have to try and get the best, most flavourful and toothsome loaf you possibly can!
And that’s why understanding flour types, varietals, milling techniques, extraction techniques, origins etc is vital to making great bread.
Did you know, the season in which the grain that made your flour was harvested, the transport and storage conditions and the packaging can all affect your loaf! Even things like whether it was raining on the day they picked your grain can make a difference! 
This is less so with flour made in large batches in factories because they use processes and blends to standardise water content and other variables but the difference can be quite noticeable if your flour is single origin organic.
This is one of the things I absolutely love about sourdough : it’s never static! 
It’s living and breathing and reacting to it’s environment and to the ingredients you put in. Best of all, it demands a high level of humility of me.
The wikii (what’s the plural of wiki? wikis?) on Cereals and Flour are required reading for all of us BreadHeads. If you really want to nerd out and learn the difference between top patent, type ’00’ and 50% Extraction flour, I present to you: Flour – A treatise!

Bread Briefing

It’s a great bread to experiment with when you’re starting out. It involves no real “shaping’ and as a medium hydration dough (water 70-75% of the total flour weight) it presents no significant handling issues. Plus it’s oh my god Delish. Remember not to use extra virgin olive oil as it has too low a smoke point.

You do want to get the bottom crust right, and on the flip side- if you are looking for inspiration for the toppings, here are some pictures I stole from Reddit:

Let’s take a quick look at the effect of bran on your loaf : Put simply, bran acts as needles to the bubbles in that gluten structure you worked so hard to develop. This is why whole grain breads tend to be denser /  less airy compared to sifted flours. Reshma had a great idea for this : if you have access to a fine sieve, simply sieve out the bran from your bread flour, make the recipe as usual and add back in the sifted bran later as a dusting to the loaf!

Want to learn more? I should probably be trying harder but Google makes it so easy! This is like the first hit on the bran-in-bread subject and its ace 🙂

Here are a few links that were requested on todays zoom!

Matthew wanted some discard recipes

Sandeep wanted some Pizza inspiration

Using discard to make Ginger Ale?! Reshma mentioned SAPA bakery in Mysore and I managed to track down their recipe!

Finally here’s your homework assignment!!! Shaping is an art and science and the more you practice it, the better it gets! Shaping has a profound effect on your final loaf and even if you did all your stretch and folds perfectly and religiously to get the best possible gluten development, improper shaping can result in lopsided or unnecessarily dense loaves. Don’t ask how I know 🙂

See you tomorrow at 4pm Dubai!