Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Flour for European Bakers and a French Sugar to Search Out.

I have to start this post with a big thank you to David Leibovitz and his blog for providing me with the information I needed to bake a good pie crust in France. The first time I made a pie there, last Christmas, I had no idea that the standard all-purpose flour in French supermarkets was not basically the same as American all-purpose flour. Boy was I in for a surprise. When I made a pie crust with my standard recipe it was soft and super sticky. It ended up baking up better than I expected but I knew that I wanted to educate myself about finding an equivalent flour to American AP in France before I baked another pie there. I now know French AP flour is milled more finely and has less gluten. If you read the package label it is type 55 or type 45. The French flour that is equivalent to American AP flour is the organic flour type 65. I found it at an organic chain called Naturalia. DL says that organic type 65 can be found at supermarkets but I did not find it at the store near my son's home in Lyon.
I tried making rolls with type 55 flour because I was curious how it would be for bread. The dough was soft and sticky and I ended up having to knead in more flour to get the proper texture. In France at least when you are working from an American recipe for baking you will have to search out type 65 flour or plan on adjusting the recipe.
One of the pies I made for Thanksgiving in Lyon was pumpkin using the recipe I posted in January 2012. It was the best pumpkin pie I have ever made. Because I was in France I had to use a different sugar and couldn't use canned American pumpkin. Instead of the dark brown sugar found in the US, I used a very dark sugar labeled Daddy Poudre a Maurice Cassonade Coursée. If you should search for it, it comes in a yellow plastic bag. There is another sugar from Maurice sold by Daddy that is in a blue bag which is not as dark. The pumpkin I used was a potimarron which is called a kuri squash in the US. I wanted to bring some of the dark sugar home with me but when I returned to the store they were out of it. I looked for it at a couple of other stores and they didn't have it either. I could only find the lighter sugar in the yellow bag. That means I won't be able to figure out if the better pie was a result of the sugar, the squash, or the combination of the two. Quel dommage!

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