The Fresh Loaf

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HELP - where can i get good flour in the US?

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Dganit's picture
Dganit

HELP - where can i get good flour in the US?

Hello everyone! 
I have recently started backing (mostly sourdough) bread on a weekly basis and the deeper i get the more i realize the scope of it all and the impotence of good flour of all kinds (Ray, AP, high-extraction flour, wholegrain etc). In-light of that fact i would like to upgrade my go to flour but not being from the US i have no idea where to "go"... 
i found some good comments about this - http://giustos.com/home_baker/flours.html?mode=list&p=2 and about this http://s55352.storefront-solutions.com/default.aspx and of course the all famous King Arthur and i am sure there are many more... 
Can anyone shade light on this topic and share your favorite brands and preferably an online supplier that sells relatively cheaply? 

 Many thanks!

D

mkelly27's picture
mkelly27

General mills All Trumps unbleached is my new bulk flour.  It has good baking characteristics as well as good flavor. Depending on how much you want and where you are shipping to, may make a differenc

 

Dganit's picture
Dganit

Online or at a store? 

Antilope's picture
Antilope

U.S. WHEAT FLOUR TYPES AND BEST USES:

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Wheat Flour Protein:

-Protein levels range from about 7% in pastry and cake flours to as high as about 15% in high-gluten bread flour.

-Protein percentage indicates the amount of gluten available in the a given flour. Gluten is the substance which develops when the flour protein, which occurs naturally in wheat flour, is combined with liquid and kneaded.

-Because gluten is able to stretch elastically, it is desirable to have a higher gluten flour for yeast-raised products, which have doughs that are stretched extensively; like pizza, most yeast breads, and bagels.

-For cakes, pie crusts, cookies, biscuits, pancakes, waffles and pastry to be short and crumbly or tender, a lower protein flour is better. Also, in higher gluten flours, the gluten can overpower the chemical leaveners like baking powder or baking soda, causing the final baked goods to not rise as high.

-Hard winter wheat, mainly grown in the north, has a higher protein and more gluten, 10% to 13%. 
Most northern and national brand all-purpose flours, bread flour and high-gluten flour is made from hard winter wheat.

-Soft summer wheat, mainly grown in the south, has a lower protein and lower gluten, 8% to 10% 
Most cake, pastry and southern all-purpose flour is made from soft summer wheat.

Bleaching flour does a couple of things, it whitens the flour and it also alters the flour protein causing it to form weaker gluten. Most U.S. cake flours are bleached.
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FLOUR PROTEIN BY TYPES AND BRANDS (retail flour):
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CAKE FLOUR - 7% to 9.4% protein
Best Use: cakes, blending with national brands all-purpose flour to make pastry flour or Southern flour substitute.
-King Arthur Queen Guinevere Cake Flour, 7.0%
-King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend, 9.4% 
-Pillsbury Softasilk Bleached Cake Flour, 6.9%
-Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
-Swans Down Bleached Cake Flour, 7.1%
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PASTRY FLOUR - 8 to 9% protein
Best Use: biscuits, cookies, pastries, pancakes, pie crusts, waffles.
-King Arthur Unbleached Pastry Flour, 8%
-King Arthur Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, 9%
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ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, SOUTHERN - 8 to 9% protein
Best Use: biscuits, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, quick breads, waffles.
-Martha White Bleached All-Purpose Flour, 9%
-White Lily Bleached All-Purpose Flour, 8 to 9%
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SELF-RISING FLOUR (flour, baking powder, salt) - 8 to 10.5% protein
Best Use: biscuits, cookies, pancakes, muffins, quick breads, waffles. 
-Gold Medal Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 10.5%
-King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour, 8.5%
-Martha White Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 9.4%
-Pillsbury Best Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 9.7%
-Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
-White Lily Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 8 to 9% 
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ALL PURPOSE BAKING MIXES (flour, shortening, baking powder, sugar, salt) - 6.25 to 12.5% protein
Best Use: biscuits, cookies, coffee cakes, pancakes, quick breads, pastry, waffles
-Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Baking Mix, 12.5%
-Bisquick Original Baking Mix, 7.5%
-Jiffy All Purpose Baking Mix, 6.25%
-King Arthur Flour All Purpose Baking Mix, 10%
-Pioneer Original Baking Mix, 7.5%
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INSTANT FLOUR 10.5 to 12.6% protein
Best Use: thicken gravies, sauces, and soups without lumps.
-Gold Medal Wondra Quick Mixing Flour, 10.5%
-Pillsbury Best Shake & Blend Flour, 12.6%
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ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, BLEACHED & UNBLEACHED, NATIONAL BRANDS - 10 to 11.5% protein
Best Use: makes average biscuits, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, pizza crusts, quick breads, waffles, yeast breads.
-Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour, 10.5%
-Pillsbury Best All-Purpose Flour, 10 to 11.5%
-Pioneer All-Purpose Flour, 10%
-White Wings All-Purpose Flour, 10%
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ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, NORTHERN, BLEACHED & UNBLEACHED - 11.5 to 12% protein
Best Use: cream puffs, puff pastry, yeast breads, pizza crusts.
-Heckers and Ceresota All-Purpose Flour, 11.5 to 11.9 %
-King Arthur All-Purpose Flour, 11.7%
-Robin Hood All-Purpose Flour, 12.0%
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BREAD FLOUR - 11.7 to 12.9% protein
Best Use: traditional yeast breads, bread machine, pizza crusts, pasta.
-Gold Medal Better For Bread, 12% 
-King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour, 12.7%
-Pillsbury Best Bread Flour, 12.9%
-White Lily Unbleached Bread Flour, 11.7%
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DURUM WHEAT (Semolina) 13 to 13.5% protein
Best Use: Pasta.
-Hodgson Mill Golden Semolina & Extra Fancy Durum Pasta Flour, 13.3% 
-King Arthur Extra Fancy Durum Flour, 13.3%
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WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR - 12.9 to 14% protein
Best Use: hearth breads, blending with other flours.
-Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flour, 13.3%
-King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
-King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
-Pillsbury Best Whole Wheat Flour, 12.9%
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HIGH-GLUTEN FLOUR 14 to 15% protein
Best Use: bagels, pizza crusts, blending with other flours.
-King Arthur Organic Hi-Gluten Flour, 14% 
-King Arthur Sir Lancelot Unbleached Hi-Gluten Flour, 14.2%
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VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN FLOUR, Breadmaking Supplement - 65 to 77% protein
Best Use: Added to raise gluten. Adds extra gluten to low-gluten whole grain flours, such as rye, oat, teff, spelt, or buckwheat.
-Arrowhead Mills Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 65.0% 
-Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
-Gillco Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
-Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 66.6%
-King Arthur Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 77.8%
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Retail Flour Companies - Brands:
-Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Milwaukie, Oregon -Bob's Red Mill 
-C.H. Guenther & Son Inc, San Antonio, Texas - Pioneer Flour, Pioneer Baking Mix, White Wings Flour
-General Mills Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota - Bisquick, Gold Medal Flour, (sold US Pillsbury Flour , retains Pillsbury frozen goods)
-Hain Celestial Group Inc, Boulder, Colorado - Arrowhead Mills
-J.M. Smucker Company, Orrville, Ohio - Martha White Flour, Pillsbury Flour, Robin Hood Flour, White Lily Flour
-King Arthur Flour Company, Norwich, Vermont - King Arthur Flour
-Reily Foods Company, New Orleans, Louisiana - Swan's Down Cake Flour, Presto Self Rising Cake Flour
-Uhlmann Company, Kansas City, Missouri - Heckers Flour, Ceresota Flour
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To make self-rising flour, add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp table salt to each cup of flour.
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To make a lower protein flour (similar to White Lily or Pastry flour), mix half cake flour with half all-purpose flour.
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Another substitute for soft Southern flour, not quite as tender, for each cup of regular all-purpose flour, replace 2 Tablespoons of flour with cornstarch, mix well. (1 cup lightened all-purpose flour = 14 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp cornstarch.)
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Version 7-6-2013

the hadster's picture
the hadster

you put a lot of effort into this post.  thank you.

Dganit's picture
Dganit

This is a very impressive list! thank you for sharing...
I got a little lost in all the info and there is no way i can keep all these kind of flours... so if i had to choose 2-3 mainly for bread making and a cake here and there what would you recommend i use? and where can i get it cheaply? no vendors online? 

10x again! 

Antilope's picture
Antilope

of average flour types and brands available a most U.S. supermarkets, and the best use for them. Not a list of specialty, mail order flour. Some of the flour brands may be somewhat regional and some are available pretty much nationwide.

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Great list for reference.  THanks for sharing here!

Janet

embth's picture
embth

to add to your very nice list….

"Wheat Montana" flours….their bread flour and whole wheat flours are excellent.

Also "Bay State Milling" make a good unbleached patent flour (that I often use) and many other flours from cake to high gluten to pizza specialty flours.

There are many small mills producing organic flours.  One I have purchased good flour from is War Eagle Mill in Arkansas.  Their flours are made with a water driven mill first built in 1832 (if I remember correctly).  

 

vtsteve's picture
vtsteve

Shipping often costs more than the flour. If you really want to save money, find a local distributor (or befriend someone who buys in bulk). In the northeastern US, 50 lb. of bread flour costs $13-$18 at a distributor ($30-40 for organic). There are members in many countries; you might be near someone...

Dganit's picture
Dganit

I live in Palo Alto CA. Any idea how to get in contact with a local distributor?

Ambimom's picture
Ambimom

I bake two loaves of sourdough every couple of weeks in addition to making muffins of all kinds, Norm's onion rolls, and an occasional cake or cupcake....I buy my flour at Trader Joe's, both All-purpose and White Whole Wheat.  They are $3 for 5 pounds and IMHO equivalent to King Arthur flour which is typically $5 for 5 pounds.  It is good quality and because I lack storage space, I can keep 20 lbs on hand in my refrigerator and replenish the supply easily without having to pay excessive shipping charges.

Dganit's picture
Dganit

So fur Trader Joe's has been my go to as well but i read all these recipes with other types of flour (pastry flower, bread flower etc) and got intrigued... what do you do when the recipe calls for a designated flour that is not AP or whole? 

Ambimom's picture
Ambimom

For cake or pastry flour, all you have to do is add cornstarch as follows:  Measure one cup AP flour, then remove two TBS of flour.  Now replace those with two TBS of cornstarch.  That's all there is to it.  As for bread flour, the protein content of both King Arthur and Trader Joe's are higher in protein than most AP flours, but less than standard bread flour.  I will buy bread flour when it goes on sale (once in a blue moon) but I have used Trader Joe AP and white wheat for my bread 99.9% of the time and have never seen any demonstrable difference to the times I have used bread flour.

Baker_Brian's picture
Baker_Brian

I get my bread flour from Sam's Club in 25# or 50# bags. Been using it for several years now and happy with the results.

Dganit's picture
Dganit

Is it a specific brand or do they offer a verity of flours? and at what price?

Baker_Brian's picture
Baker_Brian

My club has Bakers and Chef brand Bread Flour - 25# bags $8.57. Their website has other brands, but I have not used them.

Ambimom's picture
Ambimom

At Costco those flours are bleached.  I prefer unbleached....less processing.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

white whole wheat, WW,  AP and bread flour are sold in most all the large grocery chains here in Phoenix for between $3.50 and $5.65 .  General Mills and Pillsbury are also sold in just about every grocery store too and they are fine flours to make bread.   Whole Foods has Bob's Red Mill and other organic flour for a premium price.  Inexpensive lower protein AP store brand flours can be made much better with some added VWG to up the protein to bread levels.  My personal favorite bread flour is LaFama AP sold in Hispanic markets for 38 cents a pound with a minimum of 11.5% protein so no VWG needed.  I've used just about every grocery store brand AP and bread flour and they all seem to work even without VWG for most breads. 

Happy Baking

the hadster's picture
the hadster

Hello:

I bought "Inside the Jewish Bakery" and love it.  Fabulous.  They also have a website with so many different kinds of flours not usually available to people who buy only 5 or 10 pounds at a time.  They even have a "frequent flour" plan if you need to buy stuff on a regular basis.  http://nybakers.com/

Also, if you have their book and have a question about one of their recipes, they are really good about getting back to you.

The Hadster

Dganit's picture
Dganit

This looks lovely, thank you! ill check it out but i am pretty sure the shipping from NYC to CA will be very $$$ 

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Surprisingly, they are not in NY. They(New York Bakers) are in San Diego, CA, iirc.

the hadster's picture
the hadster

I've ordered from them, and the shipping isn't too bad.  It does add to the cost, but I was unable to find what I was looking for elsewhere, or in reasonable quantities.  I live in NYC and simply don't have the room for 50 pounds of flour... or grain to grind into flour.

Hadster

deni999's picture
deni999

I also like to make sourdough bread.  I get my flour from www.centralmilling.com in Petaluma _ may be a little far to drive (although I do it for the quality of the flour)  and I don't know if they have a local supplier.  I don't believe they sell online - but their flours are used by several of my favorite artisan bakeries.  You probably could drive to Guisto's (in South San Francisco) to get large quantities of their flours  - or have you find another source that you are happy with?

 

Dave