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Nov 11, 2009 07:55 AM

Organic pastry flour and cultured French butter?

I'm pretty serious about pastries and cakes, and I'm looking to upgrade from Robin Hood and Farine Five Roses as I find the flour to be pretty low quality. Does anyone have some suggestions for where I can buy a soft pastry flour (i.e. low gluten content)? Note: I'd prefer organic... and I also buy flour large format (i.e. 10kg or 20kg sacks).

Also, I got into making croissants recently (definitely worth learning to do by the way, even if it does take quite some time), and although they turned out beautifully, I think they could be bettered by using real French style cultured butter (i.e. made from partially fermented cream). Does anywhere in Montreal import butter from Normandy, for instance? Any ideas as to where I can find this would be much appreciated. I live in the Plateau, so somewhere in that part of town would be great. I also go to Jean Talon every month to load up on provisions, so somewhere around there would be fine too.

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  1. La Milanaise -- -- makes very good stone-milled organic pastry flour. See the following thread for details and some other ideas.

    French butter can be found at several cheesemongers around town, e.g. Yannick on Bernard West in Outremont and Hamel at the Jean Talon Market. Be prepared to pay an arm and a leg, however. Most chefs I know have adopted Lactantia "My Country" unsalted cultured butter as an affordable and not-too-shabby local alternative.

    13 Replies
    1. re: carswell

      President's Choice (found at Loblaws & Provigo) also has Normandy-style cultured butter. I think it's made in Canada, though.

      1. re: carswell

        I did not think of looking for the butter from cheesemongers. Good call.

        I've actually used la Milanaise before - and you're right, it is good stuff. But the only way I got it before was by befriending a baker who used to sell me the odd sack here and there. Sadly this contact is no more...

        Have you any idea who sells la Milanaise? I'll try giving them a call to see who stocks their flours, so if I find out I'll post it on here...

        Thanks for the tips.

        1. re: NickMontreal

          «Have you any idea who sells la Milanaise?»

          I've bought/seen their products at in several natural food stores and even a few independent grocery stores (e.g. Milano and possibly Latina and PA). Note that these were 2- and 5-kg bags. In the Chowhound thread I linked to above, SnackHappy mentions seeing 20-kg commercial bags of some La Milanaise flours at Aubut. If they can stock them, they should be able to order similar size bags of pastry flour.

          1. re: carswell

            I get mine from IGA (Complexe Desjardins). I suppose most IGA's would carry it. You could also look at Folie en Vrac on Mont-Royal. Not sure if they have it but I wouldn't be surprised.

            Rachel-Béry is also a good bet as it's owned by the same company as IGA (Sobey's).

            1. re: carswell

              I would second Aubut for the flour.

            2. re: NickMontreal

              I buy La Milanaise flour at Tau and Rachelle Bery, also at Fruiterie du Plateau, usually small bags. I also picked up a big bag of organic flour last month at Marché Duluth and it looks like you can order directly from the farm ..

              1. re: NickMontreal

                I've seen Milanaise at PA on du Fort/de Maisonneuve.

                1. re: naturelle

                  Pretty much every health food store and every grocery store with an organic section carries La Milanaise. I've also seen Moulin Abenakis flour at Merci Vrac, but I've never bought it.


                2. re: NickMontreal

                  NickMontreal, to warn you about paying through the nose for French cultured butter....

                  I have been buying Beurre D'isigny and Beurre D'Echire at Yannick, and I love them. The butter taste fabulous, and I use it almost like cheese on really good bread, it is a treat. But they cost about $12-14 per 250 grams, so even though I usually don't balk paying for good food, I have been less willing to use them in my everyday baking, where you need butter in quantity. I have started using it to finish special sauces, and in spaghetti with butter and cheese (where you really notice the quality of the butter, as it is one of the main ingredients). I agree completely with the Lactania suggestion by Carswell for larger quantity butter requirements.

                  1. re: moh

                    I agree too. The Lactania Antique butter is especially good.

                    1. re: Plateaumaman

                      Would just like to point out that:

                      a.) I tried the Lactantia Antique butter as recommended, and found it to be pretty darn good actually. It made a lovely brown butter for a pasta dish which I served with squash, shaved chestnuts and sage. Perhaps when I'm feeling flush one day I'll spring for Moh's suggestions, which sound incredible. Expensive - but incredible.

                      b.) I found a great place for flour on Frontenac and Marie Anne called Club Biologique. They carry La Milanaise, in 2kg, 5kg and 20kg bags. White bread flour, pastry flour, whole wheat - you name it they've got it.

                      Thanks for all your suggestions.

                      1. re: NickMontreal

                        I've always wondered about Club Organique. Is it a regular store or, as its name suggests, is it a club or coop where you have to buy a membership.

                        1. re: SnackHappy

                          I 'm pretty sure it's not a co-op. I just waltzed in and bought my flour no problem. You can, according to their website, become a member and take advantage of special rates, which I may consider doing.

                          Also - although sadly this doesn't apply to me - they offer a student discount.

                          It really is a fabulous place. And according to the shop keeper, something like 98% of their products are certified organic.... pretty impressive, I think.