I gather that when S&L first bought their property up here 15-odd years ago, their short-term intent was to throw together a combination bug-out location/construction camp. They brought up a house trailer* and built a quicky utility building, then over many years of weekends they built their wonderful big house and better outbuildings.
Since it was at least theoretically an emergency retreat from the beginning, they stashed quite a lot of food there including five pails of “high gluten white flour,” one pail of which L just opened to see if it was still any good. She found it free of bugs, but wanting to stick her toe in the water she did what people seem to do when they’re not sure about some ancient food stash – she gave me some of it.
It looked like flour, felt like flour, smelled…not exactly like the all-purpose flour I’m used to but not bad, you know. I proofed some yeast, started adding flour, and as soon as the dough ball started to form I knew where I’d smelled that smell before.
Two years ago L gave me two sacks of “bread flour” that I just couldn’t work with at all. The dough ball has a granular texture, it’s more like mixing corn meal mush than bread dough. The dough doesn’t change its character under kneading, not if you knead it all day. It soaks up a lot of water fast. And it only rises once.
I’ve done it so often by now it’s imprinted in my DNA: You knead the dough until it’s smooth and homogeneous, you coat it with oil and let it rise in a warm bowl, you cut it in half, punch it down and let it rise again in warm bread pans, you bake it. But with this stuff the first rise goes off in an encouraging manner and then that’s it. When you finally give up on the second rising and bake the loaves anyway, you get two unappetizing-looking bricks.
At least I got a good food bucket out of the deal.
*true story: If you climb under their house you can still see the frame of that trailer. They built the house in sections, one section surrounding the trailer. That way, no matter the weather, they always had a decently livable place on the site. Once part of the new construction had been rendered residence-worthy, S tore down the structure of the trailer with a Sawzall and gradually hauled it to the dump. But the frame stayed right where it still is.