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Since buying my breadmaker a few years ago I have been making bread every day. I have experimented with numerous brands of bread flour but have always come back to my all time favourite-Doves Farm organic.
Before I tell you about the flour let me tell you a bit about this family owned business. Doves Farm is located on the Wiltshire/Berkshire border and has been in business since 1978. In the early days the stonegrinding equipment was located in a barn and the resulting flour was only available from specialist health foods shops. To day Doves farm employs 60 staff and produces not only flour but breakfast cereal, biscuits in addition to several different types of flour. All the products are organic. I try to buy organic products when ever possible as I prefer to feed my family on food that contains no chemicals and has been sustainable sourced. I know the cost is higher, but for me it is often worth paying a bit extra! Organic farming methods allow wildlife to thrive in a way that other farming methods do not.
Back to the flour! As I have already said I have tried other brands of flour including supermarkets own brand but have always been disappointed with the results. Most flours will give you a decent looking loaf that is well risen. However, for me, the proof of the bread is in the eating! Bread make using Doves farm flour has a delicious nutty taste in the case of the wholemeal flour and a soft chewy texture for the white flour. I find that I get the best results from using ½ white and ½ wholemeal flour. When using all wholemeal my bread doesn't rise as well.
Dove Farm wholemeal flour contains 100% wheatflour with the white version having the addition of vitamin C and vitamin B. The strong wholemeal flour comes in a brown coloured bag with the signature Dove on the front. The white flour comes in a green bag. Dove's farm flour is more expensive than most other brands at £1.69 for a 1.5 kg bag for the white flour and £1.39 for a 1.5 kg bag of the wholemeal flour.
If you would like to know more about the company then I can recommend the Dove farm website. There is an excellent recipe section too! I can recommend the mixed seed and nut wholemeal loaf, it's delicious!
As the price of bread has risen steeply im sure many families will be considering investing in a Breadmaker. I have had one for a few years and it turns out a very acceptable and enjoyable loaf.
But for anyone who has the time and the inclination there is nothing like starting from scratch, a few ounces of fresh yeast and a bag of good quality bread flour.
I'm sure you will have noticed that I added the word `quality`, because no matter what anyone tells me nothing will persuade me that it pays to buy cheaper bread flour.
You can buy it for as little as 75 pence a bag in some discount stores, but the taste is completely different.
Doves Farm Organic is one of my favourite bread flours but I have to wait until we are near a Waitrose until I can get some., it comes at around £2.30 a kg . I had thought of asking my local health food supplier if they would consider stocking a few bags.
Doves Farm Foods was established in 1978 by Michael and Claire Marriage (isn't that a great surname!) the company is based on the Wiltshire/Berkshire border.
They have an entire range of foods, from pasta to cookies, their products are all grain or cereal based.
They have a comprehensive range of flour.
Organic wheat flours , gluten free flours, bread and cake mixes, pasta and a good selection of speciality flour.
I love the soft brown Malthouse Flour , it is made from wheat and rye, but it has flaked malted grains added to it to give the bread a `crunch`.
Its suitable for vegetarians, vegans, it is organic and nut and soya free.
The flour has a very `silky` texture, it is good to cook with.
I prefer to use fresh yeast and make my own bread if time allows. When the yeast and sugar mix in with the flour the malty smell is delicious. I like the added grains, the crunchy texture makes the bread interesting.
The flour kneads well and when the bread is in the oven the yeasty malty aroma is heavenly.
The only problem with the finished loaf is how do you keep it?
It keeps well in the refrigerator or the bread bin, if only it got the chance!
My family have the knife and butter at the ready and as soon as the loaf comes out they pounce!
Doves Organic Flour is good, tasty and wholesome. The grain has been grown in a natural environment.
Michael and Claire Marriage wanted to produce safe, healthy and nutritious food without causing damage to the environment.
I think that their product range reflects their caring attitude.
I have been using Dove's Organic Bread flour since I bought my breadmaker in March last year; since then I have not bought any bread from supermarkets or bakers, preferring the bread I make myself.
I have tried several different brands of bread flour from the cheapest supermarket own-brand to Dove's. Dove's is, of course, more expensive than most others but the quality is superb and it produces excellent results every time I use it.
Typically, I use two thirds strong white bread flour and one third wholemeal bread flour in all the loaves I make; this combination produces beautiful soft, golden brown loaves whether hand-made from scratch, used in the breadmaker just to make the dough and baked in the conventional oven, or used from start to finish in the breadmaker. We have never been disappointed with the results.
A bonus with making your own bread as opposed to buying loaves from supermarkets is that it is so much cheaper - at the current high prices nowadays, I can produce bread for a third of the price of even the own-brand loaves.
Baking bread with Dove's Organic Bread flour ensures that I know exactly what is in the food I eat; I know it's totally organic and untampered with and, above all, produces the tastiest bread I have ever eaten.
Dove's Farm produce their organic flour while avoiding pesticides and using using sustainable agricultural methods. They're against genetic modification, and their products are packaged in recycled sustainable paper packaging wherever possible, and transported with maximum load efficiency to reduce damage to the environment. Oh, and they taste pretty good too!
Their bread flour comes packaged in modern looking green and brown wrappers (the picture on dooyoo is now out of date), and can be purchased in any supermarket for around £1 a pack. It's not the cheapest flour on the market, with supermarket brands coming in around a third lower at 60-70p, but the results you will achieve justify the extra cost. Bread baked with this flour has a lovely, firm light texture, and rises reliably every time. Taste-wise, it's fragrant and even slightly nutty and noticeably more delicious than cheaper brands.
I have only ever found one kind of flour that was nicer, and that's ground in a 600 year old water mill with old-fashioned stones, and is available in about three shops. Perhaps industrial "progress" doesn't always represent a step forward in terms of taste!
I have been an enthusiast for home baked bread for a long time. I bought a bread maker four years ago (my wife thought it would be a passing fad) and it has given faithful service three or four times a week since. It is simplicity itself to put the half dozen ingredients into the pan, set the timer and leave it to its own devices overnight. I love waking up to that fresh-baked aroma first thing in the morning. I have also tested out a number of the ready-mixed kits on our regular visits to the States. It has been gratifying to watch the increasing popularity of these machines over the last few years. The number of models has risen and the price has continued to fall. This has been matched by the number of enthusiastic reviews on CIAO and other sites. There has been an increasingly plentiful supply of bread flour and recipe books too. The former is the subject of this review. I became aware of the Doves Farm Organic Flour range initially at Sainsburys but it is now available at most supermarkets. Packaged in distinctively coloured paper packs, there are over sixteen varieties in all. Many of these are 'plain' or non-wheat flours which are not suitable for bread making. (For completeness these include: Plain White, Self-Raising White, Plain Wholemeal, Self-Raising Wholemeal, Pasta, Rice, Gram, Gluten-free White, Gluten-free Brown) This English concern is based on the Wiltshire/Berkshire border. The company, Doves Farm Foods, was established in 1978. All the products found under the Doves Farm label are based on grains and cereals or are complimentary to them. They are certified to be GM free. BREAD FLOURS Flours used in the making of bread need a high protein content (leading to the description - Strong) and contain a lot of gluten. When water is added, this mixture gives rise to a dough that is both elastic and will trap bubbles of carbon dioxide from the fermentation process. The two commonest cereals in commercia
l use ar e wheat and rye. Bread is also an important source of dietary fibre. The Doves Farm Organic range includes a Strong White Bread Flour (which I have not used), a Strong Wholemeal, Malthouse, Spelt, Rye, Buckwheat and some Gluten-free Bread flours. Strong Wholemeal: The legal definition of wholemeal flour is that it is the entire 100% result of the milling of cleaned wheat. This is produced by stone-grinding hard wheat so that the bran and wheat germ are retained in the mix. It contains 12g% (12 grams per 100 grams of flour) of protein and 9g% of fibre. Malthouse: This flour contains a blend of wheat and rye flours with added malted wheat flakes. It has 13.8g% protein and 6.4g% fibre. It is similar in nature and use to the proprietary Granary flour (14.6g% protein; 3.1g% fibre). Rye: This flour is milled from a hardy cereal grass. The flour is used extensively in breads from Central and Northern Europe and Scandinavia. It has a somewhat lower gluten content which creates a sticker and heavier dough. Rye breads usually have a very close texture. It can be used in such highly flavoured heavyweights as pumpernickel or can be further enhanced with the addition of caraway seeds to the dough. It yields 8.3g% protein and 11.5g% fibre. Spelt: Spelt (triticum speltum) is a member of the same grain family as oats and wheat (triticum aestivum) but is an entirely different species. It originated in Sumaria 9000 years ago and is one of the original seven grains mentioned in the Bible. It was widely grown by the Romans but is a specialist crop today. The dough rises very fast in comparison with white wheat flour. The bread has a very strong wheat flavour. The constituents are 11.5g% protein and 11.2g% fibre. Buckwheat: The final product is not a cereal at all but comes from the ground seeds of a member of the rhubarb family. It is a gluten-free flour used quite extensively in Russia (blinis) an
d Nor thern China. It co ntains 8.1g% protein and 2.1g% fibre. USING A BREADMAKER There are only a couple of rules to follow when baking bread in a bread maker. Firstly follow the guide book and add the ingredients in the order stated by the manufacturer. Secondly measure out the ingredients accurately. Beyond that you are free to experiment - and then enjoy. Children seem particularly fascinated by home baked bread and need little encouragement to "tuck in" - at least ours do! Before telling you the results of my experiences I will describe the method that I almost always use in my baking. You may need to make some adaptations if you want to follow in my footsteps. I use a Panasonic machine (model SD206). This has facilities for making small (350g), medium (425g) and large (500g) loaves. On some programmes it has settings for light, medium and dark crusts. It has a delayed timer control for overnight baking. All my recipes (regardless of the type of flour) use the White Bread large loaf setting because I like a dark scorched crust. Experience has shown that even Granary flour will rise and bake quite satisfactorily on this setting. The basic recipe is: Flour 500g; Hovis bread yeast 1 teaspoon; Sugar 1 tablespoon; Milk powder 2 tablespoons; Salt 1½ teaspoons; Butter 25g; Water 350ml. (apologies to the purists who would prefer everything either Metric or Imperial - this just describes the provided Panasonic spoon!) RESULTS Wholemeal: The Wholemeal loaf is a delightful, well risen, close textured but light, malty and crusty brown loaf. It cuts cleanly. Wrapped in greaseproof paper it retains its crust to the following day and is also well suited to toasting Malthouse: This makes another country-style 'cut-and-come-again' loaf. It is similar in character to the Granary loaf; a strong brown taste, medium riser, quite coarse textured, with crun
chy flaky bits. The wheat flakes are not quite as hard a s those in the other brand. Again this is a loaf that keeps quite well over two or three days. You may prefer to use the Multigrain setting ion the bread maker for this one. The crust is less hard and roasted. For reasons apparent in the introductory sections, the other three flours are not used alone but tend to be mixed with a strong white bread flour to add to or stabilise the gluten. After flirtations with most of the popular brands, I now use Allinson's Very Strong White Bread Flour (protein 13.9g%; fibre 3.2g%) for making my standard white loaves and as the basis for these other specialist creations. Rye: The ratio is in the order of four parts Allinson's to one part rye flour. The more rye that is added the slower and the less the bread rises, often leading to a very dense loaf with a hard crust. However, the rye flour has a distinctive and strong flavour which still comes through at this dilution. I do not add caraway seeds. At times one side of the loaf appears to have collapse in on itself. Even when this happens, the loaf cuts well. The loaf tends to be a rather grey colour. Spelt: Spelt dough proves and rises much more quickly than conventional wheat flour. The Doves Farm packaging warns that bread makers proving cycles may not cope with a pure Spelt bread. This can be overcome by using two or three parts Allinson's to one part Spelt flour. If overdone, the Spelt loaf may over-prove and collapse leading to a rather craggy crust. This is a delightful crusty, full flavoured 'white' loaf although the Spelt flour gives the finished bread a yellowish cast. Rye / Spelt: This combination seemed to give the best of both worlds. I experimented with various mixes and came up with three parts Allinson's, one part Spelt, one part rye. To date this has not failed me. A great full flavoured, good cuttin
g, open-texture d loaf which ke eps to the second day (if any is left, that is!) Buckwheat: Buckwheat is used as a flavouring in the bread maker and the preparation of bread does rely on gluten for another source. At least use four parts Allinson's to one part buckwheat flour. This makes a firm but quite light textured loaf with a slightly greenish tinge. The bread has a vaguely sweet, vaguely earthy taste. AVAILABILITY: The bread flours are available at branches of most supermarkets and prices vary a few pennies around those give. Strong Wholemeal 1.5Kg £0.95 (Tesco) Malthouse 1Kg £1.09 (Sainsbury) Rye 1kg £1.09 (Tesco) Spelt 1Kg £1.29 (Tesco) Buckwheat 1Kg £1.20 (Sainsbury) CONCLUSIONS: If after a number of months you have come to know and love your bread maker maybe now is the time to start looking for experiences away from the standard white or brown loaf. Doves Farm Organic Flours provide a rich and wide source of materials to facilitate a whole series of culinary and gustatory experiences. Once you get the measure of the machine's settings and the nuances of the different cereals, the horizons of your pleasures can only expand. POSTSCRIPT: You may know of my penchant for writing reviews about beers (and other libations). Baking is not that dissimilar to brewing - the proportions of the ingredients of course may be different. I came across the following abstract when I was doing some research for another article which I found fascinating. BREAD OR BEER - A LITTLE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND "DID BEER COME BEFORE BREAD" To answer the question scholars helped concoct a Mesopotamian brew from a 3,800-year-old recipe etched in clay. It was not an idle question. We now believe that barley was domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the highland region of the southern Levant. But it seems likely that wild grains were gath
ered long before the n. What prompted the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture? Many scholars have suggested that overexploitation of wild resources and climate change in the region are behind the transition. But barley can ferment naturally, as we shall explain, and the discovery of beer at an early date may well have been a significant motivation factor in hunter-gatherers settling down and farming the grain. In his contribution to the symposium, Sauer, with simple elegance, explained that for hunter-gatherers the amount of work involved in cultivating grain would not have been worthwhile if the only reward was a little food. The desire for beer, he felt, might have been sufficient incentive for expending the effort to plant and raise the barley, which he believed to be the earliest crop."
A range of organically produced strong flours ideally suited for use in a bread maker.