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Best baking flours?

Hello.
I have been using, as was recommended, Aldi self-raising flour for some years. However, this formerly good quality product has over the last year seemed to have changed quite substantially in that it forms small solid lumps of flour (not as formally ground as fine?) and bakes to a moist chewy crust and not as formally to a good fine dry crisp crust, (thus no longer a good scone and cake baking flour).
Can anyone recommend a good baking flour please?
Thanks.

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Interesting observation. Have you checked the use-by dates on the flour? Is it being stored in a place that may be getting more moisture than formerly? Have you bought any other brands of flour to compare to see if the same happens?

We use Aldi self-raising interchangably with Woolies home brand, and occassionally Coles home brand. We use it in breadmaking, pancake batter, baking, scones, etc and haven’t noticed any change or difference in the products in relation to clumping.

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I buy all my organic flour online from Santos in Byron Bay/Mullumbimbi, never had any issues with it clumping, but do need to store it in the fridge or freezer until use as sometimes moths appear in it. That’s something I am happy to put up with, in the knowledge that it hasn’t been soaked in toxic chemicals.

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I just use home brand :upside_down_face: and currently, white wings. If I could find small bags of Manildra I’d use that. Try a cake or scone flour and see if that helps. (I think Anchor do a scone flour)

I wanted the storage tin for the self raising flour, that’s why I’m using white wings, but usually use home brand.

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I make my own self-raising flour as I don’t bake very often and find that it has lost a lot of its strength by the time I get to finish the packet.

I either add Baking Powder to plain flour (2 tsps to a cup of flour),

or I make my own baking powder to add to 500g of plain flour:

1 teaspoon Bi-Carb soda
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
2 teaspoons maize or rice flour (to absorb moisture).

This helps me to avoid surprises with the self-raising flour.

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If you were in Tassie and a frequent user of flour, we highly recommend Tasmanian Flours Mills flours. We use them in business and it is the best we have found. They have a shop front in Launceston where they sell bags of flour to the public. Their flours in their shop front are cheaper per kilo than the cheapest home brands…especially the larger bags.

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Thanks Gaby. What brand of flour please? The small solid lumps are of the batter, so seems that the flour once wettened, cannot break up . Maybe the moisture absorbing additive?

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Sorry All respondees, I was not explicit enough in that the flour was not clumping, it was after mixing it with the wet ingredients, like lumpy white sauce which no amount of mixing will break it down. I definitely will try Homebrand next thanks. I NEVER expected to receive all these responses on this topic!:-o Many thanks to all you great people out there :-))

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Oh no! How do we choose between material failure and PEBKAC? :grinning:

You’re welcome @MaryS.
I usually choose my flour depending on the amount of protein shown in the nutrition information on the package, according to what I’m baking.

A protein of 11/13% makes good bread but it’s unsuitable for cakes and scones etc, which need a low protein level (7-8%).

A general plain flour (about 9%) makes a good self-raising flour by adding Baking Powder, and also a good bread flour by adding Wheat Gluten (found at most health shops).

There are also brands, like Lighthouse,
that make special packets of Cake flour, etc, and those have the right protein level needed for a good outcome in baking.

I sympathise with you in finding that a favourite product has changed for the worst. Unfortunately it happens a lot.

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Thanks Gaby. You are so incredibly knowledgeable on flour. I had never looked at the nutritional information before and interestingly Aldi SR has 10g/100g protein. In between your 2 ranges. Yes, thus the ‘chewy’ crust with 4% Raising Agent as included with the flour. So I need to buy 2 different flours, 7-8% protein for sweet and 11-13%for breads . Tomorrow I shall check out the protein content in WW and Coles flours. Thanks again for enlightening me, I am really looking forward to putting this new found knowledge into action. Though I hope my lumpy batter disappears in the process, which is where I started with this conversation. :-)).

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Thinking further, do you sift the flour before use. For some recipes, one will get lumps if the flour isn’t aerated.

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They are lower from memory than ALDI branded at about 9%. The brand I buy for it’s protein for Bread making is Defiance White Baker’s Flour at 12.5% protein. If using Wholemeal, Wholegrain or similar mixes then adding gluten flour increases the protein. Bread Improver also helps produce a better aeration and crumb texture (only need about a teasponn to a 1 kg loaf).

ALDI flour at 10% can produce a good loaf but adding a 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon (bread improver) to a 700g loaf mix provides a very good outcome. Many recipes for breadmakers suggest adding milk powder (this increases the protein) but I prefer to make loaves without this unless making an old style milk loaf.

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You’re very kind @MaryS.
I wish you happy (and lump free)
baking :wink::slightly_smiling_face:

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Yes I always do and use quite a fine sieve. Even consulted my older sister (in NZ) who does loads of baking (for her neighbourhood it seems) as to how not to get the batter lumps and the order of dry:wet mixing and use of knife/spoon/spatula whisk etc. Thus my thought it could be the flour not of the formally very fine grade now seemingly with higher protein content as well.(Blaming the materials?). Anyway, thanks to you All experienced and knowledgeable cyber respondees, I now possess a load of information to get moving on.:-)).

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So seems Aldi has gone mid-range as they only have the 1 type of flour so for the non-fussy bakers :-)).

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It’s actually good for cakes etc as it isn’t a “strong” dough (which is needed for bread). Never over mix as this will toughen the result for pastries and cakes, just combined is what you are aiming for so that gluten is not promoted. Scone mixes should not be overhandled, just combined or even a little under combined and as little as possible rolling before cutting the scones out will produce the best results. Pastry should be a similar treatment or the pastry will turn out chewy/tough rather than light and “crumbly”. Resting pastry dough in the fridge for an hour or so will also help it relax and avoid promoting too much gluten…

In bread you want the gluten to be there, if you don’t knead the flour enough the crumb texture will be more cakey than bread texture. It doesn’t matter what flour you use in bread making if you don’t knead it enough, even high protein breads need decent kneading. Lower protein flours need more working to get a good result than if using a strong flour but that often is the only difference in getting a decent loaf if using just normal flours.

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I agree. I seemed to be doing a lot more sifting. I wonder why it’s changed?

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It used to result in light fluffy scones praised by all. Now it is solider and coarse textured.:-((.

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For SR Flour try a little more baking powder as this part of the product often degrades in warm/hot and humid conditions which many of us have been experiencing. I think most would store it in good storage conditions but you don’t know how it was stored at the shops and warehouse before you purchase it.

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