Baking with heritage wheat flour

Recently i was given some flour from some wheat grown at Torth Y Tir. Less dense in my fingers than Shipton No 4 and almost certainly ‘weaker’ , that is with less protein (it is the protein that gives the bread dough its strength and stops it becoming a soupy slop), i wondered about how to make sure i produced a loaf of bread with this.

I had heard that flour from heritage wheat can be more difficult to work with; on the other hand i also have heard from a very skilled baker that Jeffrey Hamelman, the famous American baker, recommends that you add low protein flour in the mix for all your bread.

The preferment after 8 hours

I would like to say that i had a long informed think about how to work with it, but i fancy that would be a fib. Instead, i distracted myself from lockdown news by coming to some quick on the spot decisions – i thought it might be good to bake it without mixing with other flour as a start, hold back on water, and use a sponge for a good long preferment to develop it as much as possible and then a long bulk in the fridge overnight.

The Torth y tir loaf just out the oven. The burst crust was a shame

What was interesting about working it was how far it stretched: i probably overworked it in fact – i have been told to be more gentle with the weaker flours. I certainly under-baked it by a couple of minutes, but it still came out to be a tasty loaf with a slightly nuttier and sweeter flavour.

In the autumn, hopefully we will have lots of heritage flour from the Sheffield Wheat Experiment and when we get to bake with it, this experience will be a useful bit of learning.

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