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Bread flour: does the brand really matter?


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#1 piracer

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 11:49 PM

So ive been baking my own bread from a starter dough for the past 6 months. Its supposed to be 'sour dough' but the culture is not sour these days anymore, which is a shame but the bread still taste fairly decent.

 

Anyway, i generally buy whatever is the cheapest flour i can find, generally at Wally world. I've been eyeing the King Arther stuff but in all honesty, does it make a difference? I'm talking about general white bread flour here by the way.

 

 



#2 Alleguede

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 03:36 AM

What matters in bread flour in theorie would be the gluten content on bread flour here in Canada we try to look at about 14% and the humidity absorption level. Brand, price,... Just details

#3 HungryC

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 05:06 AM

Matters to me....KA is very consistent in protein level and overall quality, year round. I like that it is an employee owned company, not a faceless conglomerate. KAs customer support is unparalleled. Have you ever called the Bakers Hotline? A live person answers and helps you figure out your baking issue, free of charge (other than long distance).

#4 weinoo

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 06:06 AM

So ive been baking my own bread from a starter dough for the past 6 months. Its supposed to be 'sour dough' but the culture is not sour these days anymore, which is a shame but the bread still taste fairly decent.

 

Anyway, i generally buy whatever is the cheapest flour i can find, generally at Wally world. I've been eyeing the King Arther stuff but in all honesty, does it make a difference? I'm talking about general white bread flour here by the way.

 

Why don't you buy a bag and do a comparison; I'm with HungryC though, with King Arthur being my favorite brand.  I also get good results with Gold Medal and Pillsbury, but when I've bought the store brand, not so great.


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#5 lancastermike

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 07:10 AM

I too like to use KA. But it is mostly a matter of choice.  If you were to make three loaves of bread with th eonly difference being the choice of flour brand I am sure I could tell no difference.

 

Perhaps those of a more educated palate could.



#6 HungryC

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 09:28 AM

I too like to use KA. But it is mostly a matter of choice.  If you were to make three loaves of bread with th eonly difference being the choice of flour brand I am sure I could tell no difference.

 

Perhaps those of a more educated palate could.

The differences between the brands are more about performance rather than flavor.



#7 weinoo

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:44 AM

I too like to use KA. But it is mostly a matter of choice.  If you were to make three loaves of bread with th eonly difference being the choice of flour brand I am sure I could tell no difference.

 

Perhaps those of a more educated palate could.

The differences between the brands are more about performance rather than flavor.

 

That's it exactly.  The time I tried baking with the store/generic brand, anyone could tell the difference...that is, if they got it before I threw it away.


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#8 rotuts

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:52 AM

KA.  Trader Joes carries it under the "Joes" label    i used to go to their store in VT as i took my labrador (s) up there to kennel

 

( not at KA ! )   if you are even close to it go there.  leave Plastic in the car.

 

phenomenal place.  as shame  or not they dont have other stores   ( near me   :biggrin: )



#9 cakewalk

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:55 AM

Trader Joe's flour is actually King Arthur flour?



#10 Heartsurgeon

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 11:02 AM

"....KA is very consistent in protein level and overall quality"

 

KA is consistent year to year, and in my experience, literally across the country.

Wally World typically sells KA for less than anyone else.

 

I have tried multiple unbleached/all purpose/bread/organic/non-organi  flours, and every single one has differences in the amount of hydration needed to reach the same consistency, and none has exceeded KA in rise or oven spring (quality of the crumb). I haven't found a flour I like better than KA. I try new flours out now (Costco had an seasonal special organic, hard wheat all purpose flour that was "local", and priced out sig less than KA)...it was ok, but didn't have the rise or spring of KA. I have mixed the remaining flour with KA, and the result is good, but I doubt i'll buy it again. It would be noce to find a locally milled flour that is as good or better than KA, buit I haven't found it yet.



#11 Lisa Shock

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 12:02 PM

Some cheaper flours contain additives which you may not want to be using.

#12 lancastermike

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 12:29 PM

For underperfoming bread has anyone ever added a bit of Cialis?



#13 HungryC

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 12:58 PM

Diastatic malt powder is the breadmaker's equivalent of Cialis.  It is especially helpful with wholegrain loaves.  Promotes rise, browning, improves texture, etc.  It is made from powdered sprouted grain (usually barley).

 

Flour is a pretty complex substance....bakers like to think about protein percentages, but many other factors (quality of protein, ash percentage, extraction) come into play.  Jeffrey Hamelman's book "Bread" has an excellent overview of flour components & their impact on baking, as well as the impact of milling, storage, and so on.  It even has sample farinograph charts.



#14 lancastermike

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 01:36 PM

The diastic malt powder is indeed a wonderful thing.  I use it in almost every bread I make, but always with anything with whole wheat or rye. 



#15 ChrisZ

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 02:04 PM

I think I've posted this before, but I had a baker tell me that when he was younger everyone used to add powdered milk to the dough as it had the miraculous effect of making the bread softer, last longer, and brown more evenly.  He said it got to the stage over many years where they were adding so much powdered milk to the dough they used to call it 'milk bread'.  Then someone figured out that soy flour did the same thing but was much cheaper, so they all switched to that instead.  Some recipes for home-made bread still include powdered milk.



#16 qrn

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 03:21 PM

I go to the localresterant,supply place every few months and get a 50lb bag of high gluten,and a 50 lb bag of a lower gluten,The stuff is from a localflourpackingand supply place,and works well for bread and pizza
Bud

#17 JoNorvelleWalker

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 07:48 PM

Anyone know of a mail order source of 50 pound bags of KAF Select Artisan Organic Flour?  Amazon had it for as I recall $129 plus shipping, which seems more than a little over priced.  I was not willing to pay that much, and as far as I can see now, Amazon no longer offers it.

 

I called KAF and they said I would have to come to Vermont or go through a distributor.  They do not ship.  The representative gave me a list of KAF distributors but did not know if the distributors would sell to individuals.  And I do not have a vehicle, I would need to have the flour delivered here.

 

I like KAF flour.  I have been making bread with it for about twenty years -- most recently about seven minutes ago.



#18 pbear

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 09:58 PM

Trader Joe's flour is actually King Arthur flour?

IIRC, both companies say no.  Though the former is formulated to emulate the latter.



#19 cakewalk

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:01 PM

I use King Arthur's bread flour, and I love it. I also use their Queen Guinevere cake flour, which is the smoothest, silkiest flour ever, and it makes the lightest, tenderest, and most beautiful cakes. But for all purpose flour I have always used Hecker's, from the days before I ever heard of King Arthur (or bread flour and cake flour, for that matter.) I've gotten used to how Hecker's produces certain cakes that I make often. I tried it once with KA's all-purpose, and it was noticebly (to me) different. I later learned that KA's all purpose flour has a significantly higher protein percentage than Hecker's, which would explain the dfference in textures. But I like KA's all purpose flour for cookies. I bought their diastatic malt a while ago but I haven't used it yet. Next loaf. Something to look forward to, :)



#20 Lisa Shock

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:13 PM

I prefer Fresh & Easy's house brand bread flour because it is packaged in really heavy plastic bags. I live in a very low humidity area, and sometimes, if KA has been on the shelf for a while it it gets dried out and stale at some supermarkets where there isn't much turnover. Even TJ's isn't great a lot of the time because of the dry air. The Fresh & Easy stuff always gives me great results.

F&E also uses these bags for their dry beans, and they also cook up very nicely whereas other brands also have staling issues here. (It's rare for us to see humidity over 18%)

#21 hsm

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 11:14 PM

Trader Joe's flour is actually King Arthur flour?

IIRC, both companies say no.  Though the former is formulated to emulate the latter.

Trader Joe's store staff has told me it's the same. Recently, TJ's headquarters replied to my email saying they had previously sold KA branded flour but KA does not supply the Baker Joe flour.

 

I've used both to make recipes from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day--cannot tell the difference in performance or taste (neither can the friends who crave those loaves and have eaten bread baked with each brand).


Edited by hsm, 07 March 2013 - 11:15 PM.


#22 PSmith

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:48 AM

Currently in the UK we have some big issues with our home-grown wheat used for bread making.

 

We had a really cold wet summer last year and as a result the wheat didn't really ripen to give the strong flour enough gluten for decent bread.

 

As a result, I have been buying Canadian flour or using the English flour with the addition of two teaspoons of lemon juice which improves the raising performance.


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#23 rotuts

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 10:29 AM

interesting KA stopped supplying Tj's . wonder why.



#24 pbear

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 10:44 AM

It was the other way round.  TJ's dropped KA so it could move to a lower price point.



#25 rotuts

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 10:47 AM

time to keep and eye out for KA four sales !



#26 Lisa Shock

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 12:58 PM

Anyone know of a mail order source of 50 pound bags of KAF Select Artisan Organic Flour?  Amazon had it for as I recall $129 plus shipping, which seems more than a little over priced.  I was not willing to pay that much, and as far as I can see now, Amazon no longer offers it.
 
I called KAF and they said I would have to come to Vermont or go through a distributor.  They do not ship.  The representative gave me a list of KAF distributors but did not know if the distributors would sell to individuals.  And I do not have a vehicle, I would need to have the flour delivered here.
 
I like KAF flour.  I have been making bread with it for about twenty years -- most recently about seven minutes ago.

Check with your local restaurant wholesale suppliers like Shamrock, Sysco, etc. Some of them will allow people to buy from them if the person picks up at their back door and pays cash. (no delivery)

#27 Bjs229

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 04:10 PM

Trader Joe's flour is actually King Arthur flour?

Is this a fact?

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD

#28 cakewalk

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 09:32 PM

Trader Joe's flour is actually King Arthur flour?

Is this a fact?

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD

It's a question. From responses made above, it seem TJ's used to sell KAF under the TJ name, but they no longer do. (Which is really too bad, but what can ya do?)



#29 pbear

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 09:49 PM

As mentioned upthread, no, this isn't true.  Here's a post in the Trader Joe's thread, quoting an emailed explanation from TJ's customer service dep't.

 

BTW, to refresh folks' recollection, KA didn't used to make flour TJ's flour.  Rather, the latter was selling KA flour, one of the few non-private label items in the store outside the liquor aisle.  In 2009, TJ's discontinued KA and brought in a similarly-formulated private label flour.



#30 piracer

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Posted 10 March 2013 - 04:57 PM

I too like to use KA. But it is mostly a matter of choice.  If you were to make three loaves of bread with th eonly difference being the choice of flour brand I am sure I could tell no difference.

 

Perhaps those of a more educated palate could.

The differences between the brands are more about performance rather than flavor.

 

What do you mean by performance?

 

So you folks are saying protein differences matters. Its interesting when it comes to ingredients wise - i buy Gold Medal flour mainly and the ingredients are typically just flour i think. Im over in Vancouver, Canada right now and when i was at the store, the generic stuff they had included a bunch of preservatives i think that ive never seen before. Interestingly it said that the flour was blended specifically for bread machines - what does this mean? Would it affect reactivating a sour dough starter (i brought some starter with me to try and make a loaf, its been almost 2 hours and im not getting much rise, getting a little worried that the flour isn't conducive or something)?