British Baking

I’ve been watching The Great British Bake Off on TV. It’s fun, low key, and I like all the bakers. I’m so impressed with them. I’m learning some interesting things. I had no idea that in Britain there’s strong flour, plain flour, and wholemeal, among others. I’ve learned things about different kinds of doughs and what causes which baking effects. It’s been really fascinating. This means I have to dig into some baking. I haven’t made sourdough in awhile. I’ve got to feed my starter and get going.

I want to do more cooking. Meant to all summer. Dig into recipes. I’ve decided I’ve got to push more at it and make a plan for every week–multiple times in a week. Lately I don’t have a very balanced life. Too much time here, not enough time there. Some of that has been good; some has not. I had some grand plans for this summer. I wanted to paint and draw–haven’t done that in a long time. I’m bad at it, but I wanted to do it. I can’t yarn right now–the left wrist has started to pop and I have been putting it back into a brace so I can’t move it. That means kneading bread could get difficult, but I’m willing to try. Maybe I’ll dig out the paints. Oh, and I was going to play with some polymer clay for the first time. See what I could do. It’s time to get started. I have all the stuff. It’s sitting there waiting.

Oh, and some chores. Tomorrow I’m going to work on a painting job outside that I’ve been putting off. Going to get started tomorrow. I think I can do it all one handed. Then I’m going to make a daily schedule so that I can schedule in stuff that’s fun and stuff that’s work and stuff that’s chores and stuff that’s family and stuff that’s healthy.

How does everybody else do this? Or do you? Do you have balance? Please tell me there’s hope. Because right now, I could use some of that.

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British Baking — 14 Comments

  1. Strong, plain and wholemeal is just the beginning. I keep six different kinds of flour in storage tins in the kitchen (plain, self-raising, strong white, extra-strong white, strong wholemeal and Italian “00”). But I also use granary flour and French white bread flour.

      • Granary flour is wholewheat with crushed malted grains in it, and perhaps extra malt powder, and I miss it. French white is medium-protein and high in ash, and makes the best baguettes. Italian OO is perfect for pizza and pasta. The last two you can get in America, but granary not so much.

  2. I am so not a kitchen person (too many years of hand washing dishes for huge family) that I was astonished in the last year or so to discover that there is flour and cake flour. These others do sound fascinating.

    I’ve discovered in old age that the only way I can get balance is to schedule things. Otherwise the fun gets crowded out by the busy, or pushed until bedtime when I’m weary.

    • I hate hand washing. I think aside from AC and refrigerators, dishwashers were one of the greatest inventions ever.

      Cake flour has less gluten so that the foods are lighter and rise better without the yeast.

  3. Balance is a fantasy. And since I write fantasy… Only in my writing/editing life do I have schedules and balance. The rest is flying by the seat of my pants. Somedays I land softly somedays I don’t.

  4. unlurk for cooking

    The US equivalents are more or less: Bread flour – strong flour, All-purpose = plain flour; cake/pastry flour = soft, whole-wheat = wholemeal. and then there’s “Italian style’ for foccacia, pasta and other Italian cooking. And ‘clear flour’ and “patent flour” which… (go here for more what flour info than you’d probably ever want http://www.theartisan.net/flour_descriptions_and_definitions.htm) Patent is made from the center of the endosperm of wheat, clear is what is left once they take out the patent flour. Clear is used for rye breads. And, apparently, milled differently is also used for pastry flour.

    i bake bread, have for years, all sorts.

    And American – US & Canada wheats are different from European – American mills into ‘strong flour’ (lots of gluten) and less starch. European wheat produces ‘weak flour’ with more starch, less gluten.

    And then there’s the other grain flours….

    • I may just have to stalk you a bit as I try more bread things. So even after reading the explanations, I’m not entirely clear what the differences in the flours are. I’m digging in. I’ve been milling my own. Right now I have hard red and soft white, but been wanting to get some hard white, also. I do some sifting out of bran sometimes, but not always. Depends on how heavy I want the bread not to be.

      • You might be able to get European grain flour at King Arthur Flour’s website & catalog. They sell Italian-style flour, I know. And their ‘artisan flour’ is an attempt to duplicate European style flour.

        I haven’t experimented since discovering I have to be cautious with wheat & gluten myself. Crackers are fine. breads are problematic. This is a problem for a bread baker.

  5. I used to bake but the dual prongs of gluten intolerance and diabetes have made that a futile effort.

    Time is like money. It must be budgeted. Choose your top three things to do each day, and do them. Make sure that some of them are fun/relaxing/with family & friends.

    • I read that a fair number of people with gluten intolerance are really intolerant of the overprocessed flours of the US. That they can eat bread in other countries. One of my friends can eat my homemade breads no problem, but gets a lot of pain and stuff from the gluten in processed bread flours.