A number of different grains can be turned into flour, of which wheat, rye and barley are the most commonly used on this site. Until the late nineteenth century, when commercial roller milling was developed, most cooks would have used stone ground flour, then bolted (filtered) it to produce a whiter flour. The extraction rate of modern white flour (around 70-73%) has only been possible in the last half century or so. Before the invention of mill stones grains were crushed on sloping stone wedges called ‘querns’.

For the most realistic doughs, at least before the nineteenth century, you will need to use stone ground organic flour, and for European recipes the flour should ideally have a low gluten content – such as ‘plain’ flour and not a ‘strong’ or ‘bread’ flour. These high-gluten flours rely on imported wheat varieties, often from Canada. For ‘white’ flours, short of buying or making a linen or silk mesh to bolt your own flour it is probably simplest to combine white flour with a little wholemeal, or just use regular white flour – our ancestors no doubt would have done so if it were available.

Even better, buy wheat berries and grind them yourself in a coffee grinder, or, even, on a quern. However, the best results for modern tastebuds will almost certainly be from using a strong or bread flour.


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