Baking With Pasta Flour - Easter Buns

Hot Cross Buns
Flour shortages meant that this year's Hot Cross Buns were made with pasta flour. This was a first for me. Never, in the ordinary course of things, would I choose organic durum wheat pasta flour, at three times the price of my usual flour. But, it was either that or gluten-free.

When I went to the shop, we had a little discussion; the shopkeeper, another customer and I, about whether pasta flour would be any good for white sauce, or baking in general. Upon studying the label (Protein: 12g per 100g) I decided that it seemed reasonably 'strong' and bought a couple of bags, to give it a go. Better than nothing, eh?

durum wheat pasta flour

This is the flour I bought. Durum wheat is just another type of wheat, similar to the wheat commonly ground into bread flour. The protein content and hardness of the grain make it particularly suitable for making pasta, apparently, but I suspected it would be good enough for other types of baking too. This is clearly marketed as pasta flour, but my eagle-eyes also spotted the words 'and pizza', which is basically bread, so definitely worth taking a chance.

Before I made hot cross buns, I made a loaf of ordinary white bread, with my new-found pasta flour.

white bread dough

This was the dough. Looks normal enough, doesn't it? Nothing untoward about the durum wheatiness.

white bread durum wheat

This was the resulting loaf, after we had eaten most of it and I remembered that I had wanted to take a picture. Just an ordinary loaf, really, albeit an expensive one.

It had a good crumb*:
*You what? I discuss 'crumb' about half-way down this article on dough hydration, if you're curious.

white bread durum wheat

And it made excellent toast:

white bread toast

There was no discernible difference from my normal flour (except that I am more of a wholemeal person and this was most definitely white, much to everyone else's delight.)

In other news, it was Easter. Quite strange not to be celebrating it with a big family meal. We could easily have been eleven round the table, had it not been for Social Distancing.

Easter

Last week I was (annoyingly, probably) chirpy and positive about us all being at home together, enjoying the calmer schedule. This week I found I was a bit less delighted with the situation and a bit less Laura Markham in my parenting. Cabin fever was mentioned. The long-weekend for Easter came just at the right moment for me to drop any attempt at a schedule and give us all a break.

And special chocolate arrived, courtesy of a very lovely kind friend. A little bit of special chocolate does seem to help in so many situations.

Ailey Mae's raw chocolate

Ailey Mae's raw chocolate

Ailey Mae's raw chocolate

Vegan. Deliciousness. When Ailey Mae's is open for business again, I'm their new biggest fan.

Spring is very much springing. We had frogspawn appear in our pond this year (as opposed to being put there by us, in previous years). The few tadpoles that we are observing indoors are growing fast. My daughter caught this excellent shot of a tadpole smile:

tadpole smile

And the hot cross buns were delicious.

hot cross buns

The pasta flour performed like any other wheat flour that I have used. No doubt an expert would be able to point to subtle differences but, from a practical point of view, yummy buns were made and consumed, which was all that mattered to me.

Conclusion? Durum wheat flour is perfectly fine to bake with, if a little pricy. I'd go so far as to assert that any wheat flour would be ok for bread. I said as much in this article 'Do I Really Need Strong Flour?' (Spoiler: The answer is no.) Maybe not prize-winning, professional-standard bread (although who knows?!) but none-the-less tasty and family-feeding in these times when we might be stuck with the last flour in the shop.

How's the flour situation with you?

6 comments:

  1. In short the flour situation here in Somerset is, for want of a better word, Pants!
    I did manage to pick up 1.5kg of wholemeal bread flour & a bag of OO pasta flour but these are almost exhausted now. This week I was lucky to find one solitary bag of strong white bread flour & a bag of white Rye flour, so have the means to produce a few more loaves. Yeast has been the biggest problem but a very early trip to the supermarket got me a few sachets of instant yeast & my local Tesco's bakery section have been an invaluable source of small amounts of fresh yeast to keep me going for the time being.

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    1. Dave it's pants here too!!! It's been ages since I had a decent wholemeal loaf. My local greengrocer has been able to get some sacks of flour, so I've got a source of plain white but I'd love some wholemeal. Meanwhile, my family are secretly pleased :) A break from my relentlessly healthy cooking!

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  2. I’m a new subscriber and live in South Wales, flour situation is dire so just ordered a 16kg bag of bread flour. I also have the majority of a sack of wheat which I’ve been grinding myself (out of necessity over choice in the beginning but I’m enjoying it now) I find a 50/50 split in flours is good but was a good girl and popped a film on and ground up 500g of fresh wholewheat flour which along with some vital wheat gluten) made a beautiful loaf in my (don’t shout at me) bread machine. I then put a white loaf in for the kids and it sank like a stone! Go figure... anyway just wanted to say I’ve enjoyed reading your posts this morning and I’m sure if I had the time I’d love to give bread the love it so rightly deserves but as I’m working from home, chucking everything in the machine and coming back downstairs when it beeps is as much time as I have at the moment (especially after grinding!). Anyhoo, I’m learning (had the machine for years only used it in the snow) and loving fresh bread. I have just bought a pack of Fermipan and need to know the best way of storing all that yeast before I open it :/. Karen

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    1. Hi Karen, Thanks for your comment! How do you grind your own wheat?
      I have nothing against bread machines - just never had room for one in the kitchen and now I'm so used to making bread by hand, I won't change.
      Your card making website is lovely! I enjoyed having a nosey around there :) I think my mum would love some things from Tonic Studios!
      Re Fermipan, I always keep the majority of the packet in an air tight container and tip some out into a smaller jar for regular use. Some people say it's good to freeze yeast, if you have a large supply that may go off before you use it.
      I've just managed to make an order of flour from Shipton Mill. Wholemeal bread will be back on the menu - phew!

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  3. At the moment I’m grinding using an electric coffee grinder. I’d love a real mill but I’ve only found them for sale in USA so that’s not an option at the moment. A friend of mine is grinding her wheat with a nutribullet! I’ve also bought a sack of white bread flour from amazon :)

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    1. That sounds labour intensive (small batches ground at a time?!) I expect the sack of flour is a nice change!

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