The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Organic AP Flours: closest match for KA AP/Sir Galahad?

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Thor Simon's picture
Thor Simon

Organic AP Flours: closest match for KA AP/Sir Galahad?

I've been using KA Organic AP which I pick up (or have my sister pick up for me) on the way to visit her in Vermont -- it's very attractively priced in 5lb bags at their store. But I'm starting to consume more than this "free shipping" arrangement can handle, and the mail-order price is...not so nice.  None of my local groceries carry this flour.


A local bakery supplier will sell me KA Organic Select Artisan in 50# bags qty 1.  The price isn't great as he doesn't usually carry this item and is getting it from another supplier -- of course he won't tell me who.  But, also, looking at the KA web site I see the specs for Organic Select Artisan are not the same as for the Organic AP -- it looks like the retail Organic AP is formulated to perform as closely to the retail AP (professional Sir Galahad) as possible while the Organic Select Artisan has been tweaked a bit (lower protein, 11.3% vs 11.7%, and all-winter-wheat as opposed to winter/spring blend).


NY Bakers repackages the Sperry Organic Bread (General Mills) flour in 5lb bags and the shipping actually isn't prohibitive if I buy enough.  My concern with this flour is that the spec sheet makes it look like the canonical example of what KA's talking about when they say other brands' specifications are loose -- no falling number is specified and the protein content is given as "12% +/- 1%".  The specs on the conventional (non-organic) General Mills flours are nice and tight of course -- I assume with the Sperry brand they're keeping prices down by not hunting all over for spot quantities of organic wheat to get the product exactly in-spec to a tight specification...


Has anyone used this flour (Sperry Organic Bread)?  Enough to know if it's really more consistent from batch to batch than the spec suggests?  How about the KA Organic Select -- before I buy 50# at a so-so price I'd rather know if the difference from the retail-packaged product is even noticeable, much less important.


I can get the Sperry at a decent price locally too but I don't want to risk buying 50# at a time of a product that might vary considerably from batch to batch(!)

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Thor, I have used King Arthur Organic Select Artisan flour and actually prefer its slightly lower protein content as compared to King Arthur Sir Galahad flour (same as retail KA AP).  I found it hard, however, to justify using the Organic Select because, in my case, of its substantially higher price.


 


SteveB


www.breadcetera.com


 

rockfish42's picture
rockfish42

I've heard good things about Giusto's Organic AP, I'm guessing it'd be too expensive to ship though.

macZiggy's picture
macZiggy

I have been using this flour every day for the last 3 weeks and I have found it very consistant from batch to batch.  I am using a 50# bag and I usually use Peter Reinhardt's French bread recipe from "Artison Breads Every Day".  I have not been successful in finding the exact protein content of the Sperry Organic Bread flour, so I am going to test the flour this week against KA Special Patent Flour (bread flour also in 50# bags--non-organic) to see how it performs.


I'll post a message when I do the test.


BTW, the Sperry Organic 50# bag was $25 and the KA Special Patent 50# was $18 at my local Los Angeles food distributor.  Great prices if you bake bread a lot.  Wish I could get big bags of King Arthur's organic flours, but they don't carry them.

Thor Simon's picture
Thor Simon

My order from NY Bakers just arrived.  The flour's marked as "NYB Natural Bread Flour" so I'll send email to confirm that it's the Sperry product.


It's also marked "Approximate analysis 13% protein 0.52 ash".  That's at the extreme upper end of the spec sheet range for the Sperry Organic Bread flour, stronger than KA Special Patent/KA Bread flour and almost as strong as some of the organic hi-gluten flours.  I was hoping for an organic AP/Artisan flour, which it looks like this isn't, quite.


I'll be interested to see how this bakes!   I guess I'll check with NYB to see if the analysis was actually for this batch, as well.


 

Thor Simon's picture
Thor Simon

So, the "13%" on the label is evidently a typo; per Stanley at NYB the flour is 12%.  No answer on whether it's the Sperry product or not, but I have a sneaking suspicion that may be because repackaging a certified-Organic product in a facility that is not itself certified renders it "conventional" not "organic" -- and I've heard of people actually getting fined for this kind of thing in California!  Silly.


I fed my starter with this flour last night and it seems to be taking to it fine.  I should have my first bread from it tonight.

Elagins's picture
Elagins

just FYI, ConAgra also makes a certified organic flour that's similar under the Eagle Mills brand.

macZiggy's picture
macZiggy

I made two loaves from Reinhardt's book--one of the Sperry Organic Bread Flour, and one from KA Special Patent Flour (non-organic).  Based on this test, the KA flour had the best oven spring and overall look.  The Sperry loaf was not bad, just slightly smaller, more compact, less open crumb. The KA flour tasted better as well, slightly sweeter. 


So, I think the Sperry is lower in protein content, more like KA Sir Galahad when it bakes.  I will continue to use it, but, when I want a larger, more open crumb, I will use the KA Special Patent Flour.  It's terrific!  Wish it was organic, but for $18/bag, a great buy.


Wish I had a digital camera to post pictures, but, unfortunately, I don't.

Thor Simon's picture
Thor Simon

Well, my first loaf with this flour (Reinhardt "basic sourdough") is out of the oven.  The dough felt slightly less extensible than KA AP (regular or organic) while I was working with it, but pretty similar.  Rise and oven spring seem to have been about the same.  One definite oddity is that the crust took considerably longer to brown than with any other flour I've worked with -- I'm hoping the loaf won't be too dry, as I couldn't find my thermometer to check the internal temperature while waiting for the crust to come to about the color I'd usually expect.


It looks like KA Organic Bakers Classic has exactly the same specs as KA Special.  I can get that around here too but, like the KA Organic Artisan, it comes at a considerable premium.  But I think a lower-protein flour works better for the bread I'm making, so the Sperry (from NYB or elsewhere if I decide to go for big quantities) looks good for me at 12%.


The conventional KA flours seem to be made by Cargill (Horizon Milling) -- at least, a local large bakery supplier gets them in their Horizon delivery and from their product codes it looks like they're buying them from their Horizon rep.  I wonder if Cargill is supplying the KA organic flours too and, if so, if there's any chance they sell them, or similar organic flours, under any other brand names.


 

Elagins's picture
Elagins

is less sugar in the dough, the result of lower amylase-driven starch to sugar conversion due to the absence of additives in the organic flour. for more color and sweetness, you may want to think about adding some malt to the dough or baking for a shorter time at a higher temp.


Stan Ginsberg
www.nybakers.com

Thor Simon's picture
Thor Simon

It looks like one advantage to the KA organic flours is that they _do_ add malted barley flour (yeast food/falling number correction).  I'd add diastatic malt powder, if I could find it locally.  Local options are non-diastatic malt (sugar + flavor, no amylases) or, surprisingly, malted barley flour.


Since I don't have the apparatus to measure falling number, any suggestions on how much malted barley flour I'm likely to want to add to organic pure flours to match the browning results I'm used to from the KA flours?

jp's picture
jp

Any scienstist and amateur baker should know that ... thanks to share it with us if you do.

jp's picture
jp

If interested check Peter's blog "Handmade" : his demonstration (and pictures) are loudly speaking in favor of this flour ... http://psoutowood.wordpress.com


KA bread organic is TOO rich for my blood ... even reaching $8 something last week at my Whole food market ... LOVE it but it's becoming really decadent to support organic farming at that price ...

Thor Simon's picture
Thor Simon

I was driving by the KA store in Vermont last weekend and, on a whim, I went in and picked up a bag of the Organic Artisan Select -- their in-store prices for big bags are a little better than they used to be, though still not terrific.

After I got home and disgorged it into the airtight food-grade buckets I use for flour (this quantity of AP flour should last me about 4-6 months) I looked at the label on the bottom of the bag and was shocked to see that it measured out at 12.43% protein.  The KA web site has two inconsistent specs for this flour, 11.3% or 11.7% protein, but, either way, twelve and a half percent is way outside the 0.2% tolerance specified for all KA flours.

I expect it'll be fine for bread, maybe even useful for bagels or pizza crust.  But I'm not exactly expecting to be able to use it for cake or pie crust, at that strength, which is unfortunate...

I've sent KA some email, but, does anyone know if this product has changed dramatically in the past year?  Has KA loosened their tolerances, or is something else weird going on?  Anyone else get a bag of KA flour with a label showing way out-of-spec measurements?

 

Thor Simon's picture
Thor Simon

I finally got the right department at KA.  The bag is out of spec -- the measurement label is almost certainly right.  Given the impracticality of returning 50# of flour... they're sending me a gift certificate, which is very nice of them.

It occurs to me that I had on one prior occasion heard about a problem with this flour revealed/confirmed by the bag label on later examination -- there's a blog post somewhere about a baking seminar with Gerard Rubaud in which he suspects a bag of Organic Artisan is insufficienly aged, looks at the bag label, and sure enough it's just a week or two out of the mill.  I guess the lesson is, however nice KA are about replacing product, look at the label *before* dumping 50# of flour out of the bag!

Funny their internal QC didn't catch this.  Anyway, no harm done.  I was expecting a little more confusion about how to deal with this kind of problem for a retail customer -- as it stands, this would have been much harder to deal with if I'd bought the bag at the local bakery supply.

They also mentioned one useful tidbit: their organic flours are slightly drier than their conventional flours.  However, the protein spec and the measurements on the large bags are corrected for this: it is a 14% moisture measurement, not a dry measurement.  I had noticed before that dough texture was a little different with the organic artisan; I will try adding just a little extra water and see what happens.