Flour power. Getting to know your ingredients.

Hello everybody, this is an important post for us today it’s the hungry chef 1 year anniversary on WordPress today. What a year its been. Thank for all the feedback and support we’ve loved it. So thank you so much for that.

Now then, I recently visited a flour mill in the Cotswold in Shipton under Wychwood, England called Matthews Cotswold flour which is a leading artisan flour mill with some chef friends of mine.

the day was full of learning and insightful information. The one thing I can tell you is for a simple ingredient like flour the processes that goes into making and producing a very good batch of flour is a complex journey from truck to finished product. Just wow!!!

So we arrived at about 10am on a very hot and sunny morning in the beautiful Cotswold it was picturesque.

Walking into the main reception we saw all the flours thar are produced on display and instantly thought how does one little mill produce so many flours and to such a high quality?… We soon found out why.

at Matthews Cotswold flour they have 5 stages of milling.

Stage 1 grain selection

They source much of the wheat they use from farmers based within 25 – 30 miles of the mill, for their blends of flour they use, Canadian, French & Italian wheats which are carefully selected.

Stage 2 grain testing

As soon as a lorry load of grain arrives at the mill it is tested to make sure that its characteristics, including protein contein and variety meet their techinal specifications.

Stage 3 conditioning and milling

The next step is to blend the different categories of wheat together and weigh the wheat in preparation for cleaning, fine sieves remove foreign partials and the stoners remove and small stones, the wheat is dampened in order to toughen up the bran skin before milling and then stored while the moisture is absorbed, a process called conditioning.

Stage 4 test baking

Once the flour is milled they need to test batches to ensure it performs as expected. They have a small team of expert bakers on site who regularly test the flour to ensure they only sell the best high quality flour.

Stage 5 packaging

Then all the flour is packed on site and disturbuted via their Fleet of lorries up and down the U.K from Scotland to Cornwall.

Now there are main different varieties of flour, there all have different purposes, its important to understand that just grabbing the first bag of flour you see in the shop will have a big effect on what your looking to achieve. And protein content in flour / baking is important… I won’t name them all. You can also visit Matthew Cotswold flour website for more info.

Plain flour

Best for cakes, pastries, cookies, sauces, pancakes and other sweet savour products.

Self raising

Best for cakes, scones, biscuits and sponges.

Bread flours with high protein content

Churchill flour 12.7 – 13% protein perfect for bread and sourdough

Windrush flour 12 – 12.5 % protein perfect for bread, rolls, and general recipes,

Evenlode flour 11.5 – 12% protein content, perfect for loaves, rolls, flio and Choux pastry

Canadian great white 13.5 – 14% protein content. This is one of gbe strongest flours you can get. It’s very good quality flour.

I hope you find this post informative, there is so much more I could say so I may have to pick this up in another post.

But I will say that as a chef it’s really important to understand your ingredients and really get a feeling for them, see how they are produced is really eye opening and gives you so much inspiration and ideas.

If your not a chef but love baking or cooking start to look into different flours, I’ve named a few above that we use on a daily basis in the kitchen, and all the bread comes on very good quality and it’s because of the flour.

All these flours are available in 1.5kg bags and 16kg on amazon, waitrose and on Matthews Cotswold flour website.

Thanks for reading

The Hungry Chef

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