Where’s the best place to buy bread flour? And does it make a difference what brand of flour you buy?
Firstly, yes — like most ingredients, the flour you buy definitely influences the taste, texture and general deliciousness of your bread. And like all chefs say: buy the best you can find and afford.
Wallet-wise, bread flour is a spectacularly low-cost ingredient. Even when the top-notch stuff costs twice that of a supermarket own-brand — e.g. Shipton Mill’s Stoneground Canadian Organic 100% Wholemeal Flour (£1.30/kg at time of writing) v.s. Tesco’s Strong Brown Bread Flour (73p/kg) — we’re talking pennies difference, not pounds, per loaf.
So shop around. Try out different brands and suppliers. Find the ones you like, who produce their flour in ways you like (for example, using traditional millstones, renewable energy, etc.).
Here’s a list of my current favourite suppliers, both on the high street and online.
Flour on the High Street
Waitrose Very Strong Canadian Flour (White and Wholemeal) — great for recipes that call for high-gluten flours.
Waitrose Leckford Estate Strong White Bread Flour — a good all-round white bread flour. Raymond Blanc recommends Leckford flours in his autobiography, and if it’s good enough for Raymond…
Holland & Barrett Rye Flour — I’ve used this flour to successfully start many a sourdough starter. Also see Shipton Mill (below) for other rye flours.
Doves Farm for their speciality flours (e.g. spelt, kamut, buckwheat) — available in some branches of Waitrose and Holland & Barrett, and other larger supermarkets if you’re lucky.
Buying Flour Online
Shipton Mill Flour Direct — one of my favourite suppliers. Large range of flours, both stoneground and roller-milled. I buy a lot of their French T55 white flour for making French breads. Fast delivery. NB: Delivery charges apply.
Bacheldre Watermill — I’ve tried a few of their flours via Waitrose, but not bought online yet. You can buy their flours via Amazon, though the current minimum seems to be a pack of 4 x 1.5kg bags.
Don’t forget to check out your local farm shops / delis / National Trust sites to see if they sell locally milled flour. To find your nearest mill, try the list at the The Traditional Cornmillers Guild website.
If you have any flour suggestions and recommendations for other readers, do let us know in the comments below!