A few days ago, I ordered some more flour. As I’d got the hang of the slightly problematic Shipton Mill type 701 strong white flour (or so I thought), I decided I’d go with that again, because it does make very nice, very light, bread even, as with my current loaf, with a hefty freight of oat bran. And then a loaf I was just about to put in the oven collapsed as I slashed it. Bugger, I thought – or something…

I’d talked to Shipton Mill about the apparently low gluten content of the 701, and they said Continue Reading »


50% Oat Bread…

The Hovis Hearty Oats loaf is being touted as the first ever loaf to be made with 50% wholegrain oats and 50% white bread flour. Claiming something as the “first ever” is always reckless and often, as in this instance, totally wrong.

I made my first 50% oats, 50% white bread flour about Continue Reading »

Sourdough and yeast…

I’ve just been browsing a website where the sourdough bread is labelled “Yeast Free”. They couldn’t be more wrong. OK, I accept it’s a genuine mistake, based on lack of information (which I’ve emailed them to put right – nicely!). More worrying is that their baker might have told them that.

A sourdough culture is created Continue Reading »

An emmer loaf…

Emmer (Triticum dicoccum), is a seriously ancient form of wheat, its first recorded cultivation dating back to around  9,000 BC, in south-east Turkey. These days, it’s the grain known as farro in Italy, though it’s also grown in other countries. Wikipedia will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about it.

The references to spelt in the Bible are now known to be a mistranslation, and emmer is what was meant, as spelt was, geographically at least, very unlikely, while emmer was widely known throughout the historical Middle East and Mediterranean. Spelt, on the other hand, from its origins 5,000 years BC in Transcaucasia, moved westwards, and has always been primarily a European grain, before being carried to the Americas. (Pedant’s note – this is a simplification.)

Wikipedia also says, somewhat sniffily Continue Reading »

PLEASE NOTE: I have been needlessly critical of Shipton Mill flour but, as it turned out, there wasn’t a problem with the flour, just a matter of getting used to a new product and gaining experience.

Ignore what I say below about it, there is NO discernible difference in moisture content  – hydration has for some time standardised at 60% water plus 20ml Aspall Organic Cyder Vinegar as an anti-mould measure (it also improves the texture as yeast loves a slightly acid environment). It has no effect on the taste. Previous posts where I’ve been critical have been deleted, not because Shipton Mill have complained, they haven’t, but simply because they were misleading. I’ve left this one though, as it contains other information that is reliable! Continue Reading »

This is a blow by blow record of the making of the first loaf made with the sourdough culture described in this post.

The culture yielded 10 portions, one of which I retained, the rest were frozen. I mixed the remaining portion with 100ml lukewarm water, and 50g each dark rye flour and strong white flour, both stoneground organic, from Shipton Mill.

Within minutes it was bubbling away and, after a couple of hours, I put it in the fridge to keep for the following day, when I made a loaf with it to this recipe (I’m actually typing this as I go, so you’ll get real-time details of its progress). I kept a portion so I could see if one would work, rather than the two I suggested previously.

So, take Continue Reading »

I’ve read a lot about creating a sourdough culture from just flour and water, most methods are needlessly complicated, and one was plain wrong. In that one, you’re told to mix 70g flour and 100ml water together, cover with a centimetre of flour (to stop it going mouldy**), and wait until it started to bubble.

That’s actually far more flour than is in the mix it’s covering, and it will just suck the moisture out of it. In addition, as the stuff is buried under a thick layer of flour, you can’t see the sodding bubbles, so how can you tell if it’s working or not?

**If it’s going to work, it should do so long before it’ll go mouldy.

So I thought, sod it, I’ll try Continue Reading »