The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Who made you king of the flours?

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Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

Who made you king of the flours?

So, I live in Hungary, but my family lives in the U.S., and wonderfully, in five days I'll be visiting (I'm going to bake them so much bread!).  It'll be neat, too, as a good number of ingredients in some interesting recipes aren't easily available here.  


Including King Arthur flours.  I always see TFL-ers mentioning it, and I've seen (and disobeyed) recipes specifically calling for KA... I'm just wondering - why?  I definitely want to give it a go, but can anybody tell me why it's the most preferred one?

rockfish42's picture
rockfish42

I've tried a variety of flours found in supermarkets and generally prefer KA, it gives me very consistent results that fit what I think bread should taste like. There's also the matter of their corporate culture, they're an employee cooperative and are extremely responsive to questions. Raymond Calvel, a famous bread researcher,  picked KA flour as being most similar to his preferred flour for baguette's in France.

I have had issues finding their flours at reasonable rates, the price can vary from as little as 3 dollars per 5 lbs to upwards of 8-9 dollars. I've been sorely tempted to switch to one of the more local mills that produce excellent flour, but again price is a problem. Unless I buy 25+ lbs at once the KA is still cheaper.

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

Perhaps I'll give it a try, at least once, though I make enough bread that the higher price is scary!

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Basically, KA flours are  higher in protein(for gluten) than most other brands of flour that are typically sold in grocery stores here.


They are also considerably higher priced.

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

I add additional vital wheat gluten to many of my loaves - is this a good substitute for KA, or different?  Sometimes I get confused...

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

I also add vwg to my lower protein flours when necessary. Works/tastes just fine by me.


There are those that say vwg adds a bitter taste.

proth5's picture
proth5

than you want, but here goes.


I know that KA monitors this board, and I will make the disclaimer that although this is information that I have gathered from conversations with KA employees, what I say does not represent the official positions of KA.  I try to be accurate in what I say, but I am just a raggedy home baker who from time to time encounters KA folks who freely give me information.  I am not now, nor have I ever been employed by KA (although if y'all are listening and are willing to find a spot for a raggedy home baker in Denver - we should talk...)


KA does not mill their own flours but purchases and packages flours from a variety of mills - the same mills as other flour companies.  What distinguishes their flours is that they have  tighter tolerances than most other sellers not only on the protein content, but on many other characterisitcs and so will reject flours that other resellers will accept.  This is what makes results with KA flours so consistent.


It is also unbleached/unbromated.  Here in these early days of the 21st century there are many unbleached flours readily available to the consumer.  This was not always the case and KA was a standout because it was unbleached. Unbleached flours give us the "creamy" colored crumb that we seek in our baking.  A bleached flour will not.


I use their flour (when I don't mill my own) because I know that it will produce consistent results.  This is important to me and I am willing to pay for it. 


I had an interesting conversation about price.  Yes, it is more expensive.  In my tiny mind, if you hold your suppliers to tighter tolerances, you are essentially producing premium product and the price should be higher.  But it doesn't stop there.  What I heard (and bear in mind that this is "what I heard") is that retailers find that demand is somewhat inelastic for KA flours - so they will raise prices to what the market will bear and that the price that you see does not track exactly with the price that KA is charging the retailer.


In a way, we feed this cycle.  I consider it to be a great flour and where I live, other great flours are not readily available, so I will buy it.  Because people like me buy it, the retailer decides to raise the price and then... well, so it goes.


KA is also a large and effective marketing force in the baking world.  They sponsor free classes, have an education center, an on line store (and a brick and mortar store) and participate in many activities in the baking world.  This raises the visibility of their flours.  There is nothing wrong with that.  It is good business.  They provide perceived value to the home and professional bakers and a premium price is charged in return.  There is something classic in this business strategy that appeals to my MBA heart (if that is not an oxymoron.)


Again, the higher protein content is a factor, but it is the consistency that makes KA a preferred flour for me.  I am fortunate in that price is a minor consideration for me (but I do love when it goes on sale...) but there are other excellent flours for lower prices.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

....Canadian flour.  I know people who travel to the US from Canada who take Canadian flour with them on holidays.

Marni's picture
Marni

Is this still around in Canada?  My grandmother would only use Five Roses (according to my Aunt and Father) and would buy it by the barrel.  She was known as an incredible cook and baker.  I've nver seen it here.


KA flour - I use it all the time, and like it, but I don't think I am decerning enough to see a difference, or maybe, as was said above, the other unbleached, quality flours I buy are just as good.


Marni

Gourmand2go's picture
Gourmand2go

I've been using Five Roses since last spring when I had a bad experience with No Name cake and pastry flour.  I baked a deep-dish blueberry pie with four pounds of fresh berries that turned out perfectly except for the fact that the crust tasted distinctly of chlorine.  Since then I've been going out of my way to find unbleached flour.  But I did recently buy a 10 kg bag of Five Roses all-purpose that must have been bleached because the price was great--under $7 for 10 kg--a holiday special at Price Chopper.


For bread, the unbleached Five Roses flour has produced superior colour and flavour.  I also use a cup of Semolina #1 in the preferment that makes a noticeable difference in the quality with either all-purpose flour.  <a href="http://www.thefreshloaf.com/http://www.phoeniciaproducts.com/en/prod.aspx?ProdSubCatid=17&ProductID=277">Cedar</a> offers semolina #1 which is a flour grind, and #2 which is a meal.


I'd noticed that after baking I would sometimes have an allergic reaction.  I know I'm allergic to mould, and I think I've pinned it down to the unbleached flour, because I don't always have this problem.  I guess the bleaching is more effective in ridding the flour of micro-organisms like mould.  Mould spores must be circulating in the air after I measure and stir the flour, causing eye and lung symptoms.  I may try wearing a mask and goggles next time!


Marion

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

I haven't heard of Five Roses, but maybe I will try it too... just arrived in the US, phew! and I'm getting over the jet lag enough to try to teach my brother to make a loaf today... thanks for the idea!  I haven't ever had a problem with allergic reactions, but I love semolina so much - I will definitely have to try playing around with that!  thanks for your ideas!


Erzsebet

flowers N bees's picture
flowers N bees

If in a sealed airtight container white flour lasts a year and whole wheat or rye 3 months. Best to place it in a freezer where it is good for years. The flour ages and looses its strength as well as absorbing air and moisture. Try the freezer for storage and you may not have a reaction. If this works it is a simple soultion for you and you can keep enjoying your own wonderful warm fresh bread. By the way, cake flour is chlorine bleached and, like twinkies, seems to have a virtually indefinite shelf life. This info (excluding the twinkie reference) comes from "The Bread Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum, a Christmas gift this year from my husband. Being in Canada I use Five Roses all the time but having a difficult time finding out the protein content %.

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

But I'm just curious to know where you live in Hungary? I spent two weeks there last fall, and loved every minute of it...

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

Glad you enjoyed Hungary!  I was born in the U.S., but my husband is Hungarian, and we relocated here a few weeks ago.  We live in the city of Pecs, right on the Croatian border...  I adore it!  The vineyards, the castle walls, the language and people... Perhaps you visited here, and hopefully as many places as you could - it's wonderful!

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

I've heard great things about Pécs, especially about the traces of Ottoman influence in the city's architecture. Unfortunately I didn't make it there. I can tell you it was high on my whish list of places to see, but it didn't fit in with my travel route at the time (entering Hungary from Romania in the south east by train, stopping off at Szeged - then heading towards Budapest and the north west of the country). Next time!

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

I'm just glad you were able to enjoy Hungary - in the northwest, did you visit Lake Balaton?  It's gorgeous, so strangely blue.  Romania's quite pleasant as well.  You'll have to see Pecs someday!


Erzsebet

Dillbert's picture
Dillbert

Erzsebet -


ref "King of Flours" - could be a language/syntax thing -


USA Budweiser proclaimed itself "King of Beers" - well, Budvar has some objections to that, but whatever -


there is a mythological / historical figure "King Arthur" - and an American classic "A Yankee in King Arthur's Court - methinks the 'connection' to be a marketing approach.

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

Tee hee... I grew up reading tales of King Arthur, the Sword in the Stone... I just don't remember what kind of bread the knights of the Round Table enjoyed!  :-)

sicilianbaker's picture
sicilianbaker

When the recipe asks for The King, you don't go for a jack of all trades..


It's a higher quality product than supermarket brands like Gold, even if you have to pay alittle bit extra for a consistent quality its worth it because alot of things can go wrong with baking but its just one less variable you worry about.


I'm seeing unbleached, unbromated copies of the supermarket brands, pillsbury, gold medal. when I started KAF was the only one who believed in it.

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

Thanks, everybody, for giving me a much clearer idea!  I make so much bread I will probably have to go for cheaper flours much of the time, but now I am looking forward to giving KA a try on my favorite loaves!  It sounds good...  Thanks again!


Erzsebet