One of the first things I discovered about W is that she really enjoys eating bread. Good, crusty, flavoursome bread with butter. Good bread comes in many different forms: baguettes, sourdoughs, seeded, brown, white, soft, fluffy, chewy. I guess it’s quite a happy coincidence that over the course of my years in the kitchen, I’ve developed a real fondness for bread-baking. While I certainly don’t love eating bread(s) as much as W does, I very much revel in the pleasure of baking them! The touch and texture of the dough, from the initial kneading to the important shaping and the final slicing, all differ so characteristically from recipe to recipe, loaf to loaf. All the hours of rising and proving, and baking in the oven, builds a great sense of patience and determination. In bread-making, there’s a need for responsibility, commitment, patience, discipline, and love. I believe bread-baking builds character.
And of course, having said all that, good flour is important as well. Good flour makes good bread. There’s really no two ways about that. We’ve tried a handful of flours over the past few years and we’re sad to say that not every bag of flour you get off the shelf at the store will give you the results you want.
Today, we are extremely excited to share with you our latest discovery: Marriage’s Millers Flour! Marriage’s Millers is a company based in Essex, UK, which has been producing high quality flours since 1824. They make all the effort to select the best quality grains, sourcing from local wheat farms as far as possible, resulting in their traditional French Burr stoneground wholemeal bread flours being superior in texture, aroma and taste. Traditional milling ensures that the integrity and nutritional value of the flour is retained, because the process of milling is kept to its original simplicity.
Just last week, the fantastic people at Marriage’s Millers sent us a few bags of their range of organic flours for our sampling! We had to try them out, or test them out, rather. As soon as we opened a bag of Organic Strong Stoneground Wholemeal bread flour, we could smell the lovely nutty fragrance that would serve to perfume our baguettes later on. The flour was speckled with flecks of bran… Dreamy…
We decided that there was no better way to put this flour to the test than with our tried-and-tested wholemeal baguette recipe. Combining an overnight poolish mixture of Marriage’s Millers’ incredible wholemeal bread flour and their Organic Strong White bread flour, we baked a batch of deliciously addictive brown baguettes. (We had them ALL in 24 hours!). Good flour makes good bread, but great flour makes even greater bread!
Recipe adapted from The Fresh Loaf
(Requires 12-16 hours of fermentation)
- 160g Marriage’s Millers Organic Strong Stoneground wholemeal flour
- 180g water
- 1 pinch of instant yeast
- 320g Marriage’s Millers Organic Strong White flour
- 175g water
- 9g salt
- 4g instant yeast
Combine ingredients (A) for poolish in a bowl and mix together well. Cover with cling film (or a shower cap) and leave on countertop to ferment for 12-16 hours. After 12-16 hours, add the water from (B) to the poolish bowl to loosen it up. In a bigger mixing bowl, weigh out the flour, salt and yeast. Then, add the poolish and water to the flour mixture. Combine with a spoon. If kneading by hand, tip out onto the counter and knead until elastic, so that the dough is smooth and stretchy, slightly tacky and passes the window pane test. If kneading with the help of a stand mixer, use the dough hook and knead on medium speed for about 10 minutes; likewise, until the dough passes the window pane test. When done, transfer the dough to a lightly-oiled rectangular tray or box. This will help in the stretch-and-fold process later. Cover with cling film (or a shower cap) and let it rise for 2 hours. At the one-hour mark, gently stretch and fold the dough. Starting from the north of the dough, gently lift and stretch the dough up, and fold it down to the bottom. Do the same for the south of the dough, lift and stretch, then fold it up to the top. Stretch and fold the west of the dough to the right, and also stretch and fold the east of the dough to the left. After two hours, split the dough into four equal portions. Using a weighing scale helps. Be gentle throughout this process. Fold the dough portions on themselves to create little oblong pillows, and let them chill on the countertop for 20 minutes. Facing the nice side of each dough pillow down towards the countertop, fold the dough over itself twice, as neatly as you can. You should get a rough shape of a roll. Bubbles will threaten to pop, but do your best to not pop them. Pinch right along the seam of the fold to seal it well. Then, gently roll the dough out into a baguette, as long as your baking sheet can take. Place the long rolls of dough in a couche, made from a well-floored clean tea towel. Separate them by folding up a bit of cloth in between each roll. Let it prove for a further 60-90 minutes. Preheat your oven to 230degC. With the help of a cardboard or wooden plank, transfer the dough to your baking sheets lined with baking parchment. Do this by gently flipping the dough onto the plank, and then flipping it back onto the baking sheets. Dust with a bit of flour on top and score 3-inch lines along the rolls. Bake it for 25 minutes, with two ramekins of water at the bottom of the oven to generate steam. Let baguettes cool before slicing with good serrated knife. Then, chow down with butter, or cheese!