Advice re Breadtopia Select Bread Flour

I’m hoping someone can help give me some advice re switching to Breadtopia Select vs regular grocery store bread flour. I’ve been learning to bake bread over the last year or so (sourdough only) and had been using King Arthur bread flour until about a month ago. I had good results with the regular white bread flour but wanted to up the nutritional value and flavor by going with fresher milled, so I switched to Breadtopia Select. The flavor of my loaves has been exceptional with this flour and I’d love to keep using it, but I’ve been having a really hard time getting the kind of structure and oven spring I was getting before. Have been making a lot of tasty but flat loaves. Perhaps it has something to do with the additional protein or bran content? Would love any advice on technique adjustments I should try to get a more open crumb and better oven spring. Thanks!

Additional info: I generally use Chad Robertson’s basic folding/baking strategy. I’ve made the Tartine Country Loaf a few times recently and have had difficulty with the texture both times. But have had the same issue with other recipes as well.

Good question.

Baking with stone ground, high extraction flour (which is what the Breadtopia Select flour is) is totally different from baking with roller-milled white flour and you will definitely need to adapt your technique, as well as your expectations.

The Tartine country loaf is a method that was created around a strong, white (roller milled) bread flour like the KA flour you were using previously. Switching to the Breadtopia Select flour will require some changes, probably including higher hydration (more water for the same weight of flour), and probably also some differences in how you proof and shape.

I have a couple articles here at Breadtopia that may be helpful in general. The first one is the method that I use for a whole grain country loaf. The Breadtopia Select flour is kind of in between a whole grain and a white flour, but in my experience it performs closer to whole grain than to white flour.

The second article is more generally about things to understand in sourdough bread baking. This one is less directly relevant to your specific question, but may help with a framework for understanding some of the differences between baking bread with one flour vs. another.

Very helpful!! Thank you!

For recipes like the Tartine Country Loaf, would the Breadtopia High Protein Bread Flour be a better choice? I’ve been having a hard time finding organic bread flour locally so would like to have a good option while I figure out the whole wheat flour adjustments.

Thank you!!

Yes, Breadtopia’s organic high protein bread flour is pretty close to the same as the KA bread flour. Roller milled white flour with a relatively high protein content. You’d probably get pretty similar results with that as with the KA flour.

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Hi Ruth! I saw your question and thought I would add my two cents. I also started baking this year with naturally leavened bread, trying different ratios of white and whole wheat. The trick for me was to use one basic recipe I felt comfortable and successful with (ingredients, process and results) and then I made variations with ratios of different flours, trying to find that happy compromise between taste, health and appearance. What works for me in my kitchen is a 100% whole wheat starter with a larger portion of organic bread flour and spelt flour (for 400 grams of total flour mixed in with 160 g of the starter, I use 325 g of bread flour, 50 g of AP flour and 25 g of spelt…splurged on a Mock Mill when it was on sale and use freshly ground wheat berries for the spelt and to build/refresh my starter). My recipe also uses about 250 g of water, which I increase as needed to get the right consistency. I found letting the initial mix ‘rest’ for a long time, sometimes even two hours, helps with softening the whole wheat flours, before I dive into a series of stretch and folds. Some of my attempts were too wet (horrible structure and oven spring) and some too dry (problems with proofing and crumb) but over time am now getting very lovely results time after time. I also add some vital wheat gluten to help with the crumb since whole wheat loaves are naturally heavier and more dense. It is very hard for a home baker to get lofty whole wheat loaves with light interiors using a standard oven, but using a clay baker helps. The batard clay baker from Breadtopia works great, flipped upside down (for easier insertion into the baker). I’m happy to share the recipe I started with and am currently using if you are interested. Hopeful there will be something useful for you here in my overly lengthy response!

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Thanks for the support! It’s definitely a process! Since switching back to regular King Arthur bread flour my loaves are light and lovely again. Will start working in the whole grain incrementally this time!