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« Baking in London, part 1. | Main | Photographing London. »

26 September 2008

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Beautiful, Shuna~ Wow! Thank you for that piece.

"many pairs of socks" ... I love that!
I am patiently waiting for your feedback on DAIRY!!! (YUM) the greatest gift~
and photos of fruits/vegeatables I haven't met yet.
Hope you are enjoying your time!

Please keep explaining! This is exactly the kind of information I need/want. I want to bake bread. And sweet rolls. With a nice crumb that's not... well, crumbly! I want it to tear apart in large feathery sheets that want to stick together... And I know Gluten is the key, I just don't know how to make it behave the way I want it to yet.

I really love the way you write Shuna, thank you for the info. Ive really learned a lot from you

Have a great weekend!

there are two basic flours...45 and 55... 45 is soft flour(same as pastry flour) and 55 is harder. 65, 80 and 110 are bread flour(higher ash and protein.."harder")

00 is for pasta, of course and then there is the extremely fine cake flour.

i gave up on baking when i came to the states..thankfully, bread wasnt my thing anyways...i could never decipher america's AP flour...it does require some label reading tho'...as far as my experience goes, king arthur's flour catalogues are somewhat expansive. i know they have a type 65 for bread.

honestly, i'd rather hear you when you find the time to wax poetic about the glory that is english dairy..their butter and cream...its splendid! french butter sucks by comparison. and america has nothing like it.

FaustianBargain,

So interesting to see you here again, after our last run in. Thank you for illuminating us on commercial flour names in Britain. The only place I would give argument is where you speak of 00 flour. I worked with an American pastry chef who used this flour instead of a popular soft wheat flour called White Lilly to make ethereal biscuits.

Dan Lepard, of London's inimitable Newspaper, the Guardian educates us all in his recent column When Baking isn't a Piece of Cake further about different types of 00 flour, of which I had absolutely no idea. {I hope all this code makes sense, I am writing it freehand.} See you again soon, then? - Shuna

Wow is right! Thanks for the enlightenment! You explained this beautifully, Shuna. I'm not much of a bread baker, but when it's a dud, now I'll know why-maybe.

well..i rather like your blog and so i decided not to interfere with my comments..i got to say what i have to say or i should just stay out of it..you know what i mean?

but now, i.could.not.resist. you are talking flour..oh well..

re 00..its a fine flour(there is also 0 and 000)...it can be used for pasta, pizza as well as shortcrust/cookies etc because its a grind thing rather than the kind of wheat/amount of protein/ash etc. certainly, there are different types of 00 grind....altho' i have only worked with 00 for pasta. you can really 'work' the dough. its beautiful for fresh pasta.

when you say that an american pastry chef uses it for 'biscuits'..do you mean english biscuits(like cookies, i guess..but only its not cookies..gah) or like southern style(american) biscuits?

p.s. yes..dan lepard is very knowledgable indeed.

i am sorry..i should have mentioned that t-45,55,65,80,110,150 etc are all french standards for flour. we followed french standards except when it came to pasta when italian flours were used and in italy, it can be 0,00,000 and it has to do with grind size...there can be 00 pizza flour and 00 pastry flour and 00 bread flour.

i dont know if the english have their own flour standards, but the french is widely adopted by most professional bakers.

Just a great, great piece of food writing.
Thank-you Shuna.

Hi Shuna,

I stumbled across your blog just the other day when I was looking for some baking tips. Having just moved to the UK from the US, it's been a bit of an adventure exploring the grocery stores and markets, and getting my kitchen stocked up with all that I need.

I have a question for you. I've tried baking simple chocolate chip cookies from scratch (which I've done a million times back in the US) twice now and they've been disasters! I'm pretty sure all my measurements were correct but the cookies bake out paper thin and I have to scrape them off of the pan, directly into the garbage bin. What am I doing wrong? I'm using the typical ingredients: plain flour, granulated sugar, dark brown sugar (couldn't find light brown sugar with the sticky consistency that it has in the States), baking soda, butter, a little bit of salt, eggs, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips.

I know moving on to bake muffins, cupcakes, brownies and all my other favorites will be impossible if I can't manage a simple cookie. Is there some trick to baking in the UK that I'm missing? The recipe suggested baking at 190C, which I started at but then turned down a bit. I have no idea if it's a fan assisted oven or a still.

Any tips would be very much appreciated!

hello Eleanor,

This is a great question! A few to answer:

1. SOFT dark or light brown sugar is what you're looking for. Do not replace Muscovado sugar with dark brown though, they are not one in the same.

2. Plain flour-- check the protein content on the side of the package. Try to find flour with a number closer to 10% than 12 or more.

3. You're instinct is right-- 190C is way way too high for cookies. Especially if you are using a fan assisted oven. The way you can tell if your oven is fan assisted is if it makes a fairly loud whirring/blowing sound when it's on. That fan shuts off when you open the door and you can usually see it moving/slowing down. Fan assisted ovens increase temperatures by at least 15 degrees and sometimes as much as 25! For a regular still oven I would say 165-170C should be fine and for fan assisted try 150C as your starting point.

Butter, though, is your main concern, it sound like. Know that what you had access to in America was far less butterfatty than what you can get here. Take your same recipe and decrease butter amount by 20% and then see what your cookie looks like. Or, make your recipe exactly as you have been making it, test one cookie in the oven, and if it spreads too much, add flour in a Tablespoon at a time, & after each, test another cookie.

I don't know what home baking trays look like in the UK but commercial ones tens to be made out of Blue Steel. They are heavy and black and attract a lot of heat and a lot of colour to that which we are baking on it. If you are using one of these, double pan your cookies to see if that helps too.

I hope you will be as happy to bake here as I have become. The raw ingredients are of extremely high quality; butter, flour, eggs, cream, sugars, and once you have the hang of the differences, I think you will be a productive & excited baker.

Do feel free to check in again and tell me if/how my suggestions were helpful or not-- I am open to all feedback! ~ Shuna

Excellent postI guess in a nutshell flour is complex !

Shuna - Thank you so much for the suggestions! Reducing the butter worked like a charm. I've successfully baked a batch of sugar cookies. Now on to bigger and better treats!

Eleanor!! This is the best news ever. Thank you for taking the time to come back & tell us about your results. If I may be allowed to be a bit corny; to me this is what eggbeater is all about. So thank you for helping to enrich it further! ~ Shuna

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