I plan to bake this Saturday (the 4th time this month) as I may take the next weekend – July 4th off, and have to travel another weekend in July (i.e. you’ll get bread on four Saturdays in June and two in July.) I hope this will work for you – you can freeze this Saturday’s delivery (The bread holds up well when frozen, retaining its chewy crust) – and know that your baker is here to produce excellent bread for you and will not normally twist the schedule to suit his own needs.
Flour was sifted (or bolted) as far back as Roman times to remove the bran (the outer covering of the wheat berry and the brown component of whole wheat flour), likely to make cakes and breads appear finer, but this process really only took off during the industrial revolution when millers figured out that by removing not just the bran but the germ (the fatty nib and the end of the wheat berry), flour could be stored longer and shipped further than with those components remaining. The oils in the wheat germ would otherwise become rancid at room temperature after a few days, spoiling the flour they were part of.
Any wheat flour can be bolted – I just received a 50 pound bag of white Khorasan flour from a mill in Montana (The loaves you had this past week were made with fresh whole grain Khorasan.)
Better quality white flours like the ones I use are left by the miller to age and in this aging carotenoids in the flour naturally oxidize, combining with oxygen in the flour itself. Sometimes, I will get bags of very fresh flour that has a yellow creamy color: after a couple of weeks it has become white due to this natural oxidation.
High volume mills bleach white flour using chemicals like chlorine gas and may add Potassium Bromate and Ascorbic acid to assist with gluten development and / or preservatives like Calcium Propanoate or Sodium Benzoate. Flour with these additives is used to make bread quickly in high volume factories (Michael Pollan’s description of a visit to a Wonder Bread factory near Sacramento in his book “Cooked” is worth a read.)
As well, these industrially processed flours are often enriched with vitamins like Niacin and Thiamine, in part because of concerns about malnourishment dating from before WW II and because the processes to which the flour is subjected destroy some of its nutritional value.
White flour is less nutritious than whole grain versions – the latter has more fiber, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. But it does taste great and is fun to work with; important parts of preparing and consuming any food.
This Saturday’s Bake
This Saturday, I plan to make a straight up white sourdough, using organic flour from Central Milling (unbleached, with no additives) and a liquid levain. Getting the right amount of water in the dough can be a little tricky, as can matching the percentage of water with the dough proofing time and temperature. If I do things right, you’ll have loaves with a nice open crumb (Crumb is the texture of the interior of the bread).
Your Canadian Baker