Baking - Breads, Ingredient Insights

Finding Local Flour

When we lived in Nova Scotia I enjoyed baking with a local rye flour from Longspell Point Farm in Kingsport, NS; I actually stocked up before we moved so I can keep making my favourite rye breads!

20140917_093719Now that we’re in London, ON, and getting to know this new area, I have to start over with finding good local ingredients. Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long to find some good flour. One of my husband’s colleagues told me about a flour mill just north of the city, so a few weeks ago my kids and I paid a visit to the Arva Flour Mill.

They offer several types of wheat flour, including pastry flour for cakes and pastry, and hard flour for breads. I picked up a bag of hard bread flour and have been enjoying the results ever since. It worked especially well in my favourite buttermilk rye bread recipe.

I tried making a batch of no-knead bread with it, and it actually didn’t come out very well. It seemed to be too sticky, so next time I may need to try it with either a bit less water, or a bit more flour. I also wonder whether the higher protein content of hard flour makes it need the kneading. Something to investigate in a future post! Until then, I will enjoy my regular breads made with this local flour, and look forward to trying some of their other flours in the future!

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Baking - General, Ingredient Insights

What is Red Flour?

My husband and I recently signed up for a local CSA, and in addition to the fruit and veggie boxes we get each week we can add various other locally produced items, such as honey, vinegar and flour. I was excited to try the flour, so we ordered a small bag of it this past week. It is a soft red flour. I haven’t actually had a chance to try it yet, but my husband asked why the flour was red, and I thought that would be a good topic this week.

Having bought most of my flour at the grocery store over the years, I hadn’t paid much attention to the type of flour, other than the obvious all-purpose (bleached or unbleached), cake and pastry, and whole wheat. Seeing this little bag of red flour made me remember learning about wheat in my classes, and that the different types of flour go deeper than just those basic grocery store offerings.

There are various combinations of hard wheats and soft wheats, red and white, winter and spring. Hard wheats have higher protein content, which produces more gluten and is better for breads. Soft wheats, as you can probably guess, have lower protein content, producing less gluten and giving a softer crumb, which is better for cakes, pastry and cookies – so that is what I will be making with my little bag of soft red flour. Red, which refers to the colour of the wheat berry as opposed to the interior of the grain used for flour, seems to be the most commonly grown wheat in North America. And winter and spring refer to the time of year they are harvested.

I won’t get into all the different types here today, but if you’re curious, there is a more detailed article about the different types of wheat flour here. I’m looking forward to baking with this flour soon and finding out how it compares to other flours I’ve used; especially knowing that it is produced locally, which I never realized was a possibility on the east coast of Canada. It may not be on the large production scale of the Prairies, but it’s nice to learn how diverse the local market can be.