I am always telling my children to put their very best effort into everything they choose to do, whether it’s playing their violins or cleaning their rooms, and I try to keep the same standard for myself in my bakery. I remember telling my husband during my first year of experimenting in my bakery business that if I was really going to become a baker that I would strive to be the very best baker in our area. Once I made that commitment, I spent hours and hours researching, practicing and basically obsessing over baking. One of the most important lessons I learned was that high quality ingredients produce the best results. Below are a few of the items I believe you should never skimp on.
Butter I use a high quality European style unsalted butter with 83% butter fat. Standard butter in the U.S. has only 71% butter fat and much less flavor. You can not make puff pastry with the correct texture without using this type of butter.
White flour should be stored for a maximum of 3 months unless stored in your freezer. One of the main reasons people have troubles with making bread is that they are using old, low quality flour. Purchase your flour where the shelves get restocked regularly. For breads, I prefer 11 to 15 percent protein in my flour. I recommend Wheat Montana (gmo and pesticide free!) and King Arthur brands.
I use stone ground whole wheat flour in my bakery. The only disadvantage to this is that stone ground flour tends to spoil very quickly. It won’t look spoiled, but you’ll notice a difference in how it holds the structure of your bread. Replace your stone ground flour every three weeks, or keep it in the freezer for up to three months.