If you’ve ever suffered an infestation of flour weevils, you’ll know the only way to truly get rid of the blighters is to throw away each and every bag of flour you have. Because weevils lay their eggs in unopened bags, I’ve given up buying flour until I actually need it, storing bags, opened and unopened, in my warm kitchen cupboard is just the kind of environment for them to thrive and conquer. Freezing bags of flour, for up to 5 days, kills active weevils and any eggs they may have laid but there’s little point if you you don’t scrub the shelves and get into any corners or cracks you may have. A bleach and water solution will do the trick. I used a hairdryer to make sure that the space was dry completely before returning any items back to the cupboard.
It’s just one of the many reasons why I bought this bread mix in Waitrose and took a chance on a £1.89 bag.
After a bit of research I discover that Francine is to France as Hovis is to the UK and leads the field in home bakery there, although I have to say I’ve not stumbled across the name before. Their flour is also sold to business customers which include Claridges and the Ritz here in London.
The mix can be used for bread machines or for those making a loaf by hand. It was certainly easier on my purse. A decent bag of flour costs just shy of £2.50, then there’s the yeast 80p and the seeds you’d like to add. Clearly not so cost-effective if you want to trot out a loaf every week and essential if you’re baking for those with allergies, but for me who needs to tick none of those boxes, total value for money. A loaf of the same kind of bread from the artisan bakery just around the corner is £3.00.
The instructions are very easy, you add water 300ml of water and switch your bread machine to the white bread programme. For those who are making the bread by hand (or using a Kenwood Chef with dough hook) do the same but after mixing the liquid
and the dry mix, knead well, cover and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and put on a greased tray. Leave again in a warm place for 50 minutes and cut a shallow cross across the top of the loaf. Dust with flour. Set the oven to 240°C/gas mark 8. Add a shallow water bath beneath the loaf to help create steam and help with the crust. Bake for around 35 minutes until the crust is golden. Allow to cool on a rack.
It tasted as good as it looked, and got dressed in Lurpak as soon as it cooled. The loaf lasted for 5 days before it was beyond toasting.
I’ll definitely be buying more bread mixes from the Francine range – available in both Waitrose and Ocado.
Do you have a great bread mix that you rely on for a fantastic loaf?