Flours ain't flours
Different flours are used for different purposes.
Plain flour will make excellent cakes and scones. It is not ideal for bread making where a good quality bakers flour is required.
A good bakers flour has a higher protein level than plain flour and comes from hard wheat. Not all bakers flours are the same. Bakers flours have differing protein levels. Some will perform better than others in bread machines. If the flour is too weak it will not develop sufficiently to provide a good structure during the machine cycle.
A flour can also be too strong wherein the small blade of the machine simply cannot develop the gluten. The experience of the manufacturer plays a large role here. We select flours for the manner in which they will perform in bread machines and with hand kneading. Our market is the home bread maker, not the commercial production bakery.
We look to ensure that the dough will fully develop within the bread machine program each and every time. Consistency of performance is critical.
We select our ingredients accordingly.
In addition to the quality and protein level, different flours will have a different rate of water absorption. This will make a major difference to you in using the delay function of a bread machine. More information on this can be found under All About Making the Perfect Loaf on this web site.
Just as we don't expect a Ferrari to do the job of a trademans utility, so we select the best performing flour or ingredient for the intended purpose.
Bread Flours or Bread Mix
Be aware of what product you are buying and don't confuse a bread flour for a bread mix.
A Bread Flour, whether white or wholemeal, has no other ingredient added (other than vitamin B Thiamin and Folate from September 2009 which are a legal requirement by Australian New Zealand Food Authority)
A Bread Flour will need the addition of other ingredients for a good loaf such as salt, sugar and bread improvers together with yeast and water. The alternative is a Bread Mix which is a bread flour which has everything already blended to the correct proportions and simply needs the addition of yeast and water. It already has the salt and the improver and sugar if necessary.
Many commercial bread mixes contain additives, chemicals and ingredients that make them suitable for high speed kneading in a bakery and also make them resistant to mould. A number of these ingredients will not be listed on the label as they are below the amounts that require this to be done. Many people have concerns about the use of a number of these additives which are essentially for the assistance of the commercial bakery which does high speed kneading and store finished products in a humid situation such as in plastic bags.
All About Bread Bread Mixes do not contain preservatives and as our customers are not engaged in high speed kneading we do not blend in additives to assist that function as they are simply not necessary. The majority of our blends also do not contain soy flour.
The advantage of baking your loaves "from scratch" (which means from a bread flour) is that you have a blank canvas with which to work. You may elect to blend several flours together, such as white bakers flour and wholemeal, or include some rye flour or rye meal etc.
You can add grain, fruit, flavours to provide a unique taste that suits you. Light and fluffy through to paving bricks if that takes your fancy. We have all the ingredients that enable you to do that and they also have hints and tips as to how much to use per loaf.
It is not essential to use a bread improver when baking from scratch. You can still bake a loaf without it. There is a reason that it is called "Bread Improver" though. It does enable you to bake a much better loaf.
All About Bread use Natural Bread Improver in our blends which is also a good description of exactly what it is. It contains Vitamin C which assists in feeding the yeast , and a cereal enzyme that assists in the rising action with better extensibility of the dough for better volume. Natural Improver is also soy free. It contains nothing that is not on the ingredients section of the label.
All About Bread Natural Bread Improver differs from supermarket products and we avoid use of those chemicals, additives and preservatives already mentioned.
Advantage of using Bread Mix
The advantage of using a Bread Mix is that it is properly balanced to begin with. (it is if it one of ours) You simply need to add yeast and water in the proportions shown on the label.
You don't need to have a pantry full of ingredients and various flours to be able to blend in a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It is already done for you.
We have a range of close to 100 bread mixes which range from those such as Golden Pumpkin (which has real pumpkin flour and herbs to enhance the pumpkin flavour) through to Crusty Multigrain which has grains and is designed for a crisp crusted finish.
There are 7 different Rye Breads ranging from light ryes through to dark heavy rye bread.
All the nuances of balancing flavours, establishing the exact amount of yeast and water and loaf size has already been sorted out for you and the mix tested in a wide variety of bread machines and the best program for each mix identified for you.
Somewhere in that one hundred bread mixes there will be your favourite that doesn't require any tweaking. Nor will it have the unwanted additives present. Having said that, I am well aware that many of our customers bake their own favourites by blending several of our mixes together, and simply adding the yeast and water.