The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Which flour do you recommend?

Marni's picture

Which flour do you recommend?

I have access to King Arthur flour in bulk (50lb bags), but I'm not very familiar with the three types available.  I use KA all purpose for almost all my white flour baking, adding in other grains as I wish.  The three I can purchase are called Sir Galahad, KA Special (which is high protein with 2.4 ash content) and Lancelot.

I bake lots of bread (usually 4-8 loaves a week), pizza, cookies, scones, quick breads, waffles etc.  Pretty much everything baked that my family eats.  Which ones, if any would be best?  Would any be superior to the all purpose for baking bread?  I haven't noticed much difference in flours when I've tried ohter types.  Maybe my senses aren't as refined as others (or maybe it's just my baking :) ). 

Anyway, I appreciate any knowledge shared. 


Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

...Personal preferences are hands down King Arthur.
Each week I bake about 14 loaves, dozens of Bagels and a variety of things by request, all with three types of KA flour.
Mostly everything, including my traditional boiled Bagels are KA unbleached Bread flour.
I keep KA Whole Wheat on hand but don't use it much.
For the sweets and some rolls I use KA unbleached AP.
Even though I use a lot of KA Bread each week I prefer to have the 5 pound bags, I get a good price on them and it keeps things very fresh.
Just to be on the safe side I also put re-useable bags over the unopened flour bags.


nbicomputers's picture

each flour has diferent uses

ka special is not in stores it is a strong short patent flour good for breads and pastrys lice puff pastry danish and sweet buns it is also good for french and itialian and pan bread like sandwitch loafs and pullman

the high gluten Sir Galahad is for bagles hard rolls and other hard crust breads some people also use this flour for egg bread

the last flour is for the artisan style breads and is good for sour dough  i think it has a higher ash contant


Grumpa's picture

You have your information slightly backwards.  Sir Lancelot is the high gluten flour with 14.2% protein, Sir Galahad is a lower protein (11.7%) and is called one of the flours for the artisan baker.  You are correct on the special.

Sir Galahad is my standard flour against which all others are compared.  I use Lancelot if I need a little more protein for whatever reason.  I have not tried the special so no comment there.

Please note that both Sirs are malted and may act slightly differently from the store bought ones.


Marni's picture

Thanks for the responses!

Since I mostly make sourdough, challah and panned sandwich breads, would the KA special and Lancelot be the  best two?  Or could I just use the special?  It sounds like the special would also be good for brownies and cookies etc.

Thanks, Norm, I knew you would know exactly what these flours were about.


nbicomputers's picture

the ka special is a good comprmise and can be use for all the things you stated that you make but for kaiser rolls and french and for other formulas you will see less volume because it does not rise as high but will still work well.

for cookies and brownes it is a little to strong for that store bought AP flour would be better of a high qiality cake flour like pure as snow or swans down or the KA queen guenaver (sp would be better

if i had to pick only one flour for my breads and pastries it would ne KA special. for with a little adjustment it can be used in 80 percent of breads, sweet yeast and pastries

holds99's picture


Here's some information taken directly from The Artisan site re: flour [emphsis added].  It's probably more than you're looking for but I have been reading both the yeast and flour treatises on The Artisan site and find them incredibly interesting.  Anyhow, here's a run down on the various flours.  Have fun.  Please note, this information will be covered on the final exam, which will account for 60% of your final grade  :>)  Seriously, I've used many different flours and Bob's Red Mill and King Arthur are my favorites, in that order.


"Flour: There are many types of white wheat flours, each having its own particular characteristics. Although the recipes in this book were originally based on French flours, we have tried to find the best possible substitutes for the flours called for in each recipe; but keep in mind these are meant to be substitutions and in no way are they to be considered direct correlations.

In France, [Artisan Note: In Italy as well] flour tends to be softer and lower in gluten and protein than in the United States. Flour milled from soft wheat does not have the elasticity required for breads. Therefore the French wheat is sometimes milled with hard wheat imported from the United States or Canada. This makes it difficult to duplicate the same flour in another country. Flour in the United States with similar specifications as flour in France may respond very differently when used. This does not mean, as many frustrated bakers have thought in the past, that wonderful French breads are out of reach outside of France.

Though identical results are difficult to recreate in another country, equally good bread can be achieved. We recommend that the reader try different brands and types of flours available to find the flour that works best for them ... Below are descriptions of various types of white wheat flours available in the United States.

The germ and bran are removed from the kernel when white flour is milled, even though they contain nearly all the fiber and B vitamins; they are removed because they also negate the elastic properties of the gluten, which is so vital to the texture and crumb of the bread. The flours discussed here are milled from soft spring and soft winter wheat, which are generally grown in eastern states, and hard spring and hard winter wheat, which are grown in the northern Midwest and Canada.

Soft flour contains 8.4 to 8.8 percent protein, 0.44 to 0.48 percent ash, 1 percent fat, and 76 to 77 percent starch.

Hard flour contains 11.2 to 11.8 percent protein, 0.45 to 0.50 percent ash, 1.2 percent fat, and 74 to 75 percent starch.

The higher protein found in hard flour indicates a higher level of gluten, which results in a more elastic, better-textured bread. The ash content is the quantity of ash resulting after burning a given amount of flour. The lower the ash content, the higher the quality of the flour. The hard wheat flours most concern the bread baker. In the United States, the improver azodicarbonamide is often added to flours to mature them. It is activated when the flour is mixed into the dough. This helps strengthen the gluten and consequently improves the elasticity and rising of the dough. Natural maturing takes from two to three months.

Straight flour is considered a good flour to use for bread making. It is 100 percent extraction flour. The extraction rate is the amount of flour obtained from wheat after milling, when the bran and germ are removed, leaving the endosperm, which contains most of the protein and carbohydrates. For example, based on 100 pounds of wheat, approximately 72 pounds of flour remains after extraction; the other 28 pounds is used for feed. The entire 72 pounds or 100 percent, of the remaining flour is straight flour. Straight flour is used to make patent, clear, and low-grade flours.

Patent flour is the purest and highest-quality commercial wheat flour available. Patent flour is made from the center portion of the endosperm.

Patent flour is classified in five categories, depending on the amount of straight flour it contains.

Extra short or fancy and first patent flours are made from soft wheat and are used for cake flours. Extra short or fancy patent contains 40 to 60 percent straight flour. First patent flour contains 60 to 70 percent straight flour.

Short patent flour made from hard wheat is the most highly recommended commercially milled flour for bread baking, it contains 70 to 80 percent straight flour.

Medium patent flour contains 80 to 90 percent straight flour and is also excellent for bread baking, as is long patent flour, which is made with 90 to 95 percent straight flour. It is up to the baker to determine which of these flours best serves his or her purposes.

Clear flour is the by-product of straight flour that remains after patent flour is removed. Clear flour is graded into fancy, first clear, and second clear. Clear flour is darker in color than the other flours previously mentioned, as it is made from the part of the endosperm closest to the bran. Fancy clear flour, milled from soft wheat, is used to make pastry flour.

First clear, milled from hard wheat, is often blended by the baker with low-gluten flours to lighten the texture of breads such as rye or whole-wheat yet maintain the deep color desirable in such breads.

Second clear flour has a very high ash content, is very dark, and is not generally used for food. Stuffed straight flour is straight flour with some clear flour added. The following types of flours are made from some of the flours discussed above. They are often named by their application rather than how they are milled.

Cake flour has the least amount of gluten of all wheat flours, making it best for light, delicate products such as sponge cakes, genoise, and some cookie batters. Made from extra short or fancy patent flour, milled from soft wheat, cake flour often comes bleached, which gives it a bright, white appearance. In this book, flours are assumed to be unbleached unless otherwise indicated.

Pastry flour also has a low gluten content, though it contains a bit more than cake flour. Made from fancy clear flour, a soft wheat flour, it is used for making tart and pie doughs, some cookie batters, and muffins.

All-purpose flour is made from a blend of hard wheat flours or sometimes a blend of soft and hard wheat flours. All-purpose flour varies throughout regions in the United States; blends are often determined by the flours available and the cooking styles of the area. It is called all-purpose flour because it is intended for most baking needs for general household use, not commercial use, where having several different flours, each used for a specific purpose, is feasible.

High-gluten flour is milled from hard wheat and has an especially high protein content, making it high in gluten. It is often blended by the baker with other low-gluten flours to give them more strength and elasticity. It is also used for particularly crusty breads and pizza doughs. It does not darken the color of the final product, as does clear flour."

Marni's picture

It's been almost a year since this was posted, but I had to say thank you!  I copied all this for future reference.  It was (and is) just what I was looking for.