Being in Shetland, in a particularly rural part of Shetland, you can’t expect the single local shop to cater for every need of the home bread baker. To my surprise, though, it stocks an odd range of flours from Wessex Mill in Oxfordshire, including “Mixed Pepper and Basil Bread Flour” and this one, “Malt Loaf Bread Flour”:
Now, initially, I had a few issues. I know the littlest about milling or what goes into production, but this one just seemed a little weird:
- Yes. That is Comic Sans. How any flour could have Comic Sans as its main typeface and then satisfy baking needs is beyond me. Just no.
- Instructions to use 100% of this flour, in a breadmaker. Right, it all becomes clear. This is a flour blend, including 15% malted flour, designed not to be fiddled with. That sounds good, 15% malt doesn’t sound like very much…
- Until you open the packet. This flour is DARK. Really dark, and definitely not wholemeal. It looks like its been tossed in brown food colouring before packing.
I hesitate. I managed to pick up a simple strong Hovis white flour packet alongside it, so I thought I would compromise. 20% of this Malt Loaf Bread Flour, 80% white. Meaning 3% pure Malted Flour, 97% White. It couldn’t be that bad…
And it really wasn’t. It produced a subtle loaf with an immensely dark crumb, which is odd because it looks like it should be a barrage of maltiness. This is the recipe I used:
Recipe – Makes One Malt(y) Loaf
400g Strong White Flour
100g Wessex Mill Malt Loaf Flour
350g Tepid Water
100g White Sourdough Starter
7g Sachet Fast Action Yeast
1. In a large bowl, rub the yeast and salt into the flour, then combine all the ingredients into a rough dough. Use your dough scraper, starting at the side of the bowl, to bring the edges of the dough into the middle, going all around the sides, for about 20 seconds. Leave to rest for 40-50 minutes.
2. The dough should be risen. The yeast will have done most of your kneading for you, but do your best to knock all the air out your dough and bash it around a bit, just to make sure the gluten is well developed. Rest the dough for a further hour to hour and a half, or until doubled in size.
3. Shape the dough into desired shape. To make the shape pictured, I simply made a traditional boule, then continued to tighten using the sides of my hands under the dough, but just in one place. If doing this, make sure the front and back of the dough are as tight as the middle.
4. Prove for a further hour on a very heavily floured board or proving basket, and preheat your oven to 240 degrees with your baking stone inside.
5. When ready, the dough should spring back to its original shape when poked. Score the bread with desired pattern, then slide onto hot stone. Pour half a cup of water onto the bottom of the oven the quickly shut the door. Turn it down to 220 degrees (200 fan).
6. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until desired crustiness and colour. Watch it though, as the crust is so dark it will be easy to burn without noticing.