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Product of the week: baking flours

Categories: Product of the week

A round up of Borough’s best baking flours and how to get the most out of them

Unless you’re a particularly enthusiastic home baker—or seasoned Bake Off watcher—you’d be forgiven for thinking flour falls broadly into two categories, plain and self-raising, and giving it little more thought beyond that. In fact, there’s much more to this simple staple than you might think—and an impressive array to be found among the shelves at Borough’s traders to get experimenting with.

“We source all our flours from the Enrici family, who have been producing them since 1933 at their small stone mill in Azeglio, Piedmont,” says Sam of From Field and Flower. “They’re all made with natural wheat—there are no additives, preservatives or bleaching agents involved. They take care of their crops, and quality is checked throughout the production process. They won’t accept anything substandard.”

At the moment, the stall has three types in stock: 00 flour, pizza and focaccia flour, and ‘soffice’ flour—each of which serves a different purpose. When it comes to Italian baking, 00 is the panacea: “It’s highly prized in Italy because it’s milled in a special way to make it extra fine—it’s almost like a dust, beautifully powdery and light—which gives a superior dough,” Sam continues. “It’s good for all baking—cakes, breads, as well as tarts and biscuits. It doesn’t use as much water as other flours and that helps keep the texture of the bake super light.” Soffice flour, meanwhile, is made up of a combination of 00 flour and corn starch, “which makes for superb cakes, even without a lot of experience!” says Sam. “In Italy it’s traditionally used to make cakes known as ‘pan di spagna’, which are typically super moist, light and high. But it can be used for any cake: we’ve used it for apple cakes, chocolate cakes and more.”

Stronger, more elastic
From Field and Flower’s pizza and focaccia flour is also made up of 00 flour, but with added starches to make for a stronger and more elastic dough. “The secret is proving the dough for at least four hours—and up to eight hours—and ensuring it is moist enough, with the right amount of water in the mix,” she continues. “Once proved, before baking, you need to sprinkle some water over the pizza crust or liberally spritz water over the focaccia dough. It’s the humidity that makes for the best results.”

Over at Gastronomica, the resident pizza flour is ‘farina di grano tenero tip 0’, produced by Giuliano Pediconi in the Misa Valley, Barbara. “We’ve been using the same producer for all our flours for about 10 years,” says Germana. To make bread, “in Italy, we tend to combine the type 0 flour with our semolina di grano duro, but you have to follow a recipe because it’s important to get the proportions right and that depends on the bread you are making.”

Semolina, a coarse flour made from durum wheat, can also be used to make sweet desserts such as torta di semolino—a traditional Italian dessert, enriched with milk, eggs, butter and ground almonds—as can Gastronomica’s polenta. Essentially cornflour, the grain is milled such that when you add water, it changes consistency. For something savoury, try using it to make Kathy Slack’s chilli cornbread with tomato salsa—if you can catch the last of the season’s sweetcorn.

“We’re really proud of our flours. They’re excellent quality,” says Sam. “Though flour is a common thing, it can really affect the quality of what you’re baking—so it needs to be good.”