Costco ConAgra Harvest Flour
OK so I've been having an AWFUL time trying to make my bread come out right and I finally found out what's wrong.
ConAgra Harvest All Purpose Flour is about the same protein content as biscuit mix. It's barely above a cake flour. At least what's available in MY area is.
I had to call ConAgra to get this information and if you are in some other part of the country it's going to be different. Unlike King Arthur, Con Agra does not mill their wheat to meet any particular definition of what we would typically think of as "bread flour" or "all purpose flour".
SO for the South East, that would be from AT LEAST North Carolina down and I'm not sure how far west; the ConAgra mill is in Alabama.
All Purpose Flour coming out of that mill is 9.2% protein (compare to 11.7% protein for King Arthur)
"Bread flour" coming out of that mill is 11.6% protein (compare to 12.7% protein for King Arthur)
Kyrol "high gluten" flour is 13.8% protein (compare to KA Sir Lancelot at 14.2% protein) - not all Costco's carry this, mine unfortunately does not.
The ConAgra representative to whom I spoke swore that although the ConAgra Harvest flour available at Costco is bleached, it is NOT bromated. I could have sworn the bags I bought actually did say it was bromated, but I've long since repackaged the flour and tossed the bags. It'll be a couple of weeks yet before I can get to Costco to double check that.
Typically we think of bread flour being something close to 13% protein, high gluten 14% to 15%, all purpose around 10% to 12%, pastry flour at about 9%, and cake flour being about 6% - 8%. Or at least I have, up to now. (Then there's White Lily, which historically was around 8%, not sure what it is now that it's been sold off)
This means the ConAgra Harvest AP flour is actually a PASTRY flour. No wonder none of my AP bread recipes were coming out! And I guess maybe some of the credit for the success I've finally had with pie crust is due to the flour rather than my increased prowess at pie making. *sigh*
Even the ConAgra Harvest Bread flour is too low in protein to actually qualify as a bread flour - it's slightly lower in protein than King Arthur's All Purpose flour!
Most national store brands of AP flour are nominally listed at 10.5% protein though I'm told in actuality they vary regionally from around 10% to 11%. National brands have a bigger stake in maintaining some level of consistency I guess. I'm talking Pillsbury, Gold Medal, etc.
SO, if you want to use the ConAgra Harvest flour from Costco, and you're in the SE, you may want to avoid the AP flour and stick to the Bread flour, treating it like it's equivalent to King Arther AP. It should be roughly equivalent for recipes on the King Arthur website that call for AP flour.
Adding vital wheat gluten to the ConAgra Harvest Bread flour will probably bring it up to the range of actual bread flour - I'm told it adds about 1% to the protein content when used as directed.