Just had a nice chat with my baking supply guy about flour. Apparently, he buys and repackages Uni-President flour and oil. (Sugar is regulated by the government, otherwise I’m sure he’d be buying that too from Uni.)
I’ve yet to see fields of wheat plants in Taiwan, so I’m betting the flour comes from China. My assumption is also based on Uni-President’s love of China and saving money.
Does anyone have the inside scoop? Is it safe to use?
(It’s a shame Costco doesn’t sell flour as they do in the US. Any Costco managers here want to chime in on why they don’t sell it?)
Wheat is all imported and not from China, as of about Oct. 2010. Taiwan’s imported wheat is 70% from the U.S., 24% from Australia and 4% from Canada. Ukraine plus others account for the remainder.
China was for years enturely self-sufficient in wheat production but with droughts it’s now a major importer. In fact, that is why wheat prices have been growing. A massive market is now bidding on the open market for the first time. So I wouldn’t worry about wheat coming from China. They aren’t sharing.
Thanks, guys! I feel a lot better now.
Oh, and Costco DOES sell flour; at the Neihu branch look for boxes near the nuts and maple syrup on the far left side as you’re heading toward checkout. They have at least medium and high gluten varieties at reasonable prices, although I don’t recall it being a better deal than what you get at baking supply stores. I didn’t check but I think it looked like a locally produced flour (that is, with Chinese characters on the box).
Edit: it’s from 日正食品 Sunlight Foods Corp., Taiwan.
Yes, they sell Bob’s Red Mill flour at all locations, I’m pretty sure. I was talking about Costco selling general, run-of-the-mill (ha) flour.
BTW: We love the bread books, dragonbones! I picked up a pineapple today to make some more starter.
I’ve not seen the Bob’s Red Mill flour, and was talking about run-of-the-mill (ha) flour.
I’ve heard of the pineapple technique – interesting. You’re always welcome to some of my starter if you want.
On the subject of flour, I find I have to use a lot more of it here than the recipe stipulates, any ideas why?
In order to get the same dough consistency? I’ll venture a wild guess that the flour you’re using here either is of lower extraction or has absorbed more moisture from the atmosphere (or both) and thus absorbs less of the moisture in your recipe. You can use a little less moisture or a little more flour, or add some whole grain flour or bran to soak up the extra moisture.
Well, to get any kind of consistency resembling a dough. I usually have to add at least 100-200ml of extra flour or I don’t even get a workable dough. Doesn’t matter what locally sourced flour I used (haven’t tried the super expensive imported stuff though), as what’s sold in the plastic bags here (carrefour, geant, rt mart, costco) is all the same.
Why don’t you try getting some from a DIY baking supply store, and ask what brand it is? Also, what are you getting, low, medium, or high gluten? It could be as simple as a different gluten or extraction level in the local flour from what you’re used to back home. Gluten and bran absorb a lot of moisture; low extraction flour and low-gluten flour don’t. You can adjust by adding bran or vital wheat gluten, or switching flours.
Got a bag from a baking supply store once too, same problem. I only buy medium or high gluten, same problem with either or, depending on what I make the high gluten isn’t always suitable.
The recipes normally state a certain amount and then says save some for when you’re kneading the dough, except I use all of that and then some and then some more to get a dough that I can even consider being kneadable…
If these are recipes that you’ve proven work back home, then I’d blame the flour here, sure, and just add more flour. But if they’re not proven, do note that a lot of people measure flour differently, and it can make a huge difference in the amount used. People who jam the measuring cup into the flour are actually packing the flour down without realizing it, the same way brown sugar packs, and if they write the recipe but you measure your flour the right way, by sifting or spooning the flour into the cup then leveling it, the amount called for in the recipe will be inadequate.
Well, some of them I have done before, some not. But it’s every single recipe as far as bread is concerned. With cakes it’s usually ok, as you want them to be light and fluffy anyhow, but when you get a bread dough that’s just a gloppy mess after having added the right amount of flour, then something sure is wrong. We only had what was referred to as wheat flour back home when I lived there, none of this fancy high/medium/low gluten stuff and no self raising stuff. Most of that is available today, but I shouldn’t have to use high gluten flour for some of the breads I make, despite mixing in a lot of other things. But even plain wheat dough’s come out wrong so something isn’t right and I can’t imagine that the three cook books I get the recipes out of most of the time are all wrong.
Maybe this was addressed earlier… do you measure by weight, or by volume? For baking especially, it’s better to go with weight. Far more consistent.
But since you’re European, you probably already go with weight. It seems mainly to be North Americans that avoid scales, for some reason: zeroing out a scale and adding more to the bowl is so much easier than using measuring cups.
(And I’m so used to weight now that the typical American avoidance of them drives me nuts, especially when recipes will say things like “one bok choy” or “two carrots” or, worst of all, “one shallot”: what on earth would that mean in Taiwan?!)
I’ve tried both, doesn’t seem to help the problem. Most of the recipes are by volume actually, but it’s quite easy to convert. I got a decent digital kitchen scale when I was back home and it’s got a tare setting, so it’s easy to use.
Sometimes I pretty much just bake on the volume on liquid and ignore the recipes, as they never quite work out right, or use them as the base and tweak it a bit to work better here.
It’ll make a great ciabatta though!
[quote] We only had what was referred to as wheat flour back home when I lived there, none of this fancy high/medium/low gluten stuff and no self raising stuff[/quote].
Was that whole wheat flour, with little specks of bran in it? If so, that’s a 100% extraction flour, which as I’ve noted several times above, will absorb much more liquid than the lower extraction, bran-free local white flours. Even if not, it may have been a high extraction white flour.
Try adding bran, or switching to using half or all whole wheat flour.
Now that TheLostSwede mentions “self raising” flour, I found some recipes which especifically ask for it. What is that and can I buy it here?
Self-raising aka self-rising flour is flour which already has leavening agents (e.g. baking powder, baking soda etc.) added to it. Because it’s been added during manufacturing and the flour is usually presifted (or so I’ve read), you supposedly get a very consistent, light fluffy product.
I’ve read different recommendations online for how to substitute if you can’t find it, e.g.
for 1 cup self-raising flour substitute 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, & 1/4 tsp baking soda
for every cup of all purpose flour, add 1½ teaspoons of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt.
I’ve also read that self-raising flour is often a bit low in gluten, as it’s used in fluffy biscuits and cakes, so if you’re making these, you might consider using low-gluten Taiwanese flour instead of medium-gluten flour in your substitution. (Medium is suitable for many breads, and high-gluten is good for bagels.)
One other silly question: how about foreign flour? It is, as far as I know, not classified as low/medium/high? Zhemapana?