The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Experiment to try different types of flour

lbrieda's picture
lbrieda

Experiment to try different types of flour

Hi folks, I wanted to share with you a blog post I just wrote up about a little experiment I did few days ago. I wanted to see how the different types of flour influence bread making, so I made tiny loaves out of rye, whole wheat, unbleached all purpose, bleached all purpose, and Wondra flours. You can see the results at http://www.slovakcooking.com/2011/blog/flour-difference/


Thanks!

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

I enjoyed your blog with all the different flours -- it's an endlessly fascinating topic.  (And I am half Czech!)


Mary Clare in MO

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

Enjoyed your blog. Was especially struck by the photos of different flour types. You really captured the color differences, which isn't easy to do, and one can see the texture difference also.


Thanks for a very interesting blog entry.


 

Jaydot's picture
Jaydot

What an interesting experiment! Great photos, too.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Personally I've never been able to see a difference between using bleached and unbleached flour either.  I go ahead and use the bleached since I can get bleached bread flour for around $12 for 50 lbs at Costco


And no, it is NOT bromated any more - check your local Costco as this may vary with region, but the mills in my region - SE US - no longer bromate flour.

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

FYI - Even if an "unbleached" flour will become a bleached flour over time.. and without chemicals.  It just does so naturally as the pigments oxidize after 12 weeks or so and it's just as white as a chemically bleached flour, but the big difference here is that one is bleached by a chemical process, the other is not.  And for me, there is a definite difference - both in taste and performance. 


Cooks Illustrated and others have done studies and tests which have concluded that bleached flour just doesn't perform as well, gluten development is not as superior in some bleached blends and there is a noticeable taste difference between bleached flours and some unbleached brands.  I never really noticed it much until I started using a different flour.   I couldn't really tell the difference between a brand like ConAgra (which mills Costco bread flour) and King Arthur unbleached, but when I switched to Honeyville, I noticed a tremendous taste difference.  Now that I've used another brand, bleached flour leaves a noticeable chemical aftertaste in breads.  I finally just threw out my old bag of bread flour from Costco.  It was that noticeable.  You may not see or taste it in things like cookies, but the difference is quite significant in breads and other recipes where wheat is the star. 


I am lucky to have a Honeyville Grains store in my local community and I pay $15.00 for a 50 lb bag of bread flour, unbleached.  The price difference is well worth the extra money.  The performance and taste of this flour is far superior to the bleached flours of Costco or similar.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

All Costco flour is not the same, it comes from different mills all over the country and is blended from different wheat.  ConAgra actually owns King Arthur.


And whether or not you see a difference in performance is heavily dependent on what process was used to bleach the flour. 


The bleaching process doesn't change the actual protein content, but (according to "How Baking Works") different bleaching processes affect gluten strength.

Ascorbic acid, Potassium Bromate, and natural ageing are all maturing processes that strengthen gluten.

Benzoyl peroxide has no effect on gluten.

Only chlorine weakens gluten.


Personally I don't have a lot of faith in Cooks Illustrated's taste/performance tests anymore.  There have been too many instances where their results don't match my own, particularly in issues of taste.


Having used both the Costco Harvest King flour and the KA flour, I can't see a difference in my breads.  The Costco AP does happen to perform much better in pie crust because (it turns out, in my part of the country) it's 9.2 % protein.  The Costco Bread flour, at 11.6% protein, performs about the same as the KA AP flour (which is 11.7% protein).  When comparing flour of comparable protein/gluten content rather than by the nominal type, they perform the same for all practical purposes.  Compared to having to spend $50 to $70 for the same amount of KA flour, I'll stick with the Costco at $12 or $13.


ConAgra used to bromate the flour they sell to Costco, but in my part of the country it is now bleached using benzoyl peroxide.  I think they've phased bromate out of all their mills, or are at least in the process of doing so.  You should check with ConAgra to find out about the specific flour blend in your area of the country.


Some people claim they can taste a difference, but I've never been able to.  In a blind taste test most people can't even pick out the difference between Coke and Pepsi, LOL!  For most people it isn't going to matter. Maybe all the bread I bake is just too plebian and not special enough, LOL!


All it takes to tell is to do a comparison for yourself.

MichaelH's picture
MichaelH

From the KAF website


King Arthur Flour became an employee-owned company in 1996, when Frank Sands instated the employee stock ownership program (ESOP). We are now 100% employee-owned, and have always been 100% committed to quality.


Michael

mkelly27's picture
mkelly27

I noticed in your wording that you did not refudiate the claim outright.  Could that be because King Arthur does not mill its own flours and contracts with large milling companies, i.e. Con Agra, Bay State, et al. for their flours?

SteveB's picture
SteveB

mkelly27,


There's no subterfuge going on here.  King Arthur Flour (KAF) has never hidden the fact that while they are a 100% employee-owned independent company (not part of some larger corporation), they do contract out the milling of their flour to other companies which must meet KAF's own tight specifications.


 


SteveB


www.breadcetera.com 

mkelly27's picture
mkelly27

Please do not construe my amplification of a moot point as a condemnation of King arthur  Co.  I applaud and utilize their company all the time, hell my favorite and most prized ballcap bears their name.


  I do however take have a problem with some of the posters and formulas posted that give the impression that King Arthur flour is required  to acheive the results.  I use many flours, some name brand, others not.  Good results are acheived by knowing what your dough requires and baking it properly.


There are many parts of the country that have limited (mail-order) or no access to King Arthur flours, yet have many other fine quality flours available at their doorstep.  Some may not have any good availability at all and rely on "big box" retailers to give them access to bulk quantity buying.


If I were baking 1-2 loaves a week and could buy KA unbleached for a reasonable price, that would be my flour of choice.  But for me, that equation doesn't fit.  Hell, a 5 lb. bag doesn't even make the weekend. (pardon the strong language)


All of that being said, Happy Baking!

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I'll be happy to back up MichaelH and repudiate Zen's claim that King Arthur Flour is owned by Con Agra.  It's not and never has been.  No idea where he/she got that misinformation.


As to contracting with the Goliaths, contracts between companies are just that.  The professional corporation I work for regularly contracts with other companies for services - but in no way do those contracts convey any ownership interest.  We're just doing business...


While KAF may no longer mill its own flours, I think it does a good job in making sure the millers it does contract with meet the standards KAF sets.  That's one of the things I like about their flours: consistency.  And the fact they're unbleached and unbromated.   I'm one of those odd people who can taste the difference between bleached and unbleached....and Pepsi and Coke.  

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

Pepsi or Coke?  HA!  Sadly, I don't drink either that much, but if I had to choose.. I like the sickenly sweet taste of Pepsi over barely enough sweet Coke.  Actually, I also love the coke bottles made in Mexico, but I never drink pop too much.  I'm an iced tea or water person myself :)


You're right though.. I didn't notice much difference between King Arthur and Costco flour in terms of flavor, but when I bought my first bag of Honeyville Unbleached bread flour, it was my husband who said something first.  He asked what I had done differently because the bread tasted nutty and had a ton of flavor.  Truth is, I didn't do anything to it, just switched flours.  I took a bite and he was right.  It was a big difference.  Haven't looked back since!


What flour do you like?

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

I got it from Con-Agra.  Con-Agra says they own King Arthur.  Call them and ask for yourself.  It's not misinformation unless Con-Agra is actually lying about it, LOL!

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

Do you have a link?  Or, is this something they told you when you called them.... and why would you call them to ask that question?  Strange


And yes... It's misinformation when you are posting something that is incorrect.... but even more odd that you're adamant about your information and sourcing.  I think you either misunderstood or they are lying to you - for whatever reason.  Call King Arthur.  I'm curious why you would call Con Agra more than once.. for something so insignificant as "Do you own King Arthur?"  LOL  There is no doubt KA is employee owned - 100%.


If you still have doubts (which I'm sure you probably will..) you can look up KA on Dunn & Bradstreet or Hoovers, which is OWNED by Dunn & Bradstreet:


http://www.hoovers.com/company/The_King_Arthur_Flour_Company_Inc/rfchtif-1.html

MichaelH's picture
MichaelH

points moot or otherwise.


The claim was made that ConAgra owns King Arthur. The claim was false. My quote from their website refudiated the claim, proved it to be in error, and ended the converstion on that topic; until you needed to construe.


Nuff said. Bye now.


Michael


 

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

The claim isn't false according to Con-Agra.  I'll call them tomorrow and double check, but I've been told TWICE by Con-Agra employees that KA is owned by Con-Agra.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

When you do that, please be sure to share the name, employee #, and actual location of the person who is allegedly claiming that ConAgra owns King Arthur Flour, just to make sure your calls are not being transferred to some "customer service" department located in LalaStan.


BTW, ConAgra's Brand Book (available for download at their website), lists all the brands they own.  KAF is not mentioned.

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

Yes, I'm certain that King Arthur Flour would like to know who is spreading such nonsense.. I know PJ Hamel from KA has an account here.  I will send her this link.

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

Where ever Costco mills their flour or who mills it for them, it really doesn't matter.  They still chemically alter their flour to a degree I find both unappealing and unacceptable.  Benzoyl Peroxide is used to clear up acne.. it's something I don't care to consume if given a choice, and it's disturbing that it is hyped to be safe to consume - maybe today, but what about tomorrow?  Why buy chemically altered flour when you don't have to?  To save $3.00? 


The USA tends to lag behind when banning the use of chemicals in our food chain.  The use of Potassium Bromate is still legal.. yet it has been banned in Canada, Europe, the UK - and shockingly even Sri Lanka and China.  The message being - why chemically alter flour when it's wholly and totally unnecessary?  And the bigger question.. why would I feed it to my family? 


I also said Cook's Illustrated and OTHER sites that do not give chemically altered flour high marks in taste and performance.  Several studies were conducted.. Cook's Illustrated is just one - you can find others on the web - surprisingly many of the studies come from China.  


The idea of eating chemically altered food was important in my overall quest to eat less processed foods and get back to a more grass roots style of living for me and my entire family.  But it was the difference in flavor is what really made me take a harder look at flours and begin to research more.. and I completely agree with others.. the taste difference is quite noticeable.  Even moving from KA unbleached to Honeyville, the taste difference is measurable.. and I'm not sure if it is shelf life or what, but I've also tried Guisto's and Wheat Montana.. each delivers more flavor and in my opinion, much better performance than Costco chemical flour.  It was so noticeable I had no problem throwing out 30 lbs of that chemically laced Costco flour. 


I found this on the King Arthur website, who have been 100% employee owned since 1996.



No unnecessary chemicals

We believe it's best to offer pure, natural flour free of unnecessary chemicals that may be hazardous to your health. In particular, we avoid adding any bleaching chemicals - such as benzoyl peroxide, commonly found in acne treatment products - as well as potassium bromate, a suspected carcinogen banned in Europe in California.



As much as I love the company, I am not a big fan of King Arthur Flours.. I think they are way overpriced and there are better choices out there for me.  Even if you don't have alot of options, you can still order a 50 lb bag of Honeyville unbleached flour for only $4.95 in shipping costs - flat rate anywhere in the USA 48 states.  That's cheaper than KAF by the 5 lb bag.  I'd love to support them by buying their flour, but I can't justify the cost in the long run and frankly, I like my flour better.  With that said, I still buy a ton of items from KAF that are nearly impossible to find in other places... and if you're a sporadic baker, then KAF flour by the 5 lb bag is just fine.

lbrieda's picture
lbrieda

BellesAZ, I completely agree with you. What motivated me to start my cooking site is that I got tired of eating chemically processed fast "foods" and wanted to get back to the simple, natural way of  my grandparents. Unfortunately, as you know, it's not so easy. The stuff we eat these days is a far cry from the locally, farm produced stuff people ate not even a century ago. Even if you skip the frozen and processed food sections of the supermarket, it's still easy for chemicals and additives to make their way into your food. 


Thank you for the tip on the Honeyville flour, I'll give it a try.

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

Even farm produced produce is not free of everything.  We belong to a CSA for both dairy and produce.. it's been a real benefit to us.  I grew up on a ranch in Montana, so we didn't have anything processed really.  Mom grew and canned most everything, we had our own beef, chicken, eggs and milk.  It is admittedly easier for me to avoid processed foods because I grew up without them.  That being said, however.. we still consume more than I'd like, but sometimes it's impossible not to.  Even our unbleached flours are not always organic. 


I am lucky to have a Honeyville store where I live, now.  There are alot of great flour choices online - Honeyville isn't the only one.  There are multiple discussions on this as to which ones are best.   However, I chose Honeyville because of the flat rate shipping.. $4.50 for a 50 lb bag.. that's incredible.  I didn't realize how great the quality or flavor was until I baked with it the first time.  They have a huge range of choices too, so no matter which one you select for yourself, I think you'd probably appreciate the flour for both taste and performance.


Good luck!

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Everybody doesn't share your sensibilities.  I agreed with the OP that *I* don't find a difference.  If you find a difference, by all means stick with what you like, heaven forfend I should tell you NOT to buy the flour you like.  But your taste is not the yardstick by which the rest of us need to measure things.


Again, try it for yourself (that's a GENERIC you) and see what you like.  Most of us don't find a significant difference once we're actually comparing apples to apples instead of apples to oranges.


 

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

Wow, seriously?  How did you gleen all of those conclusions from my post?  LOL 


I have reread my post and nowhere can I find a claim that my tastes are anyone's yardstick.  Perhaps your bakers apron is in a wrinkle over the KA ownership issue - who knows.  But whatever it is, we seem to keep having these little bumps in other peoples' posts.  I know I'm not the only one to have the same issue.. so I don't take anything personally, but you don't have to take a disagreement as a personal attack to you.  It's not. 


Now, back to the topic, and hopefully we can stay on point.  I disagree, I find that many bakers I know (and I know lots of them) who bake as a profession or as a passion.. can tell the difference in taste and performance.  In fact, I don't know of one, single baker who uses bleached unless they own a commercial bakery and I've never asked him.  In addition, Master Bakers such as Reinhart and others such as Levy and many, many, many more all suggest using unbleached flour in their bread formulast.  Why would that be?  Perhaps they see that unbleached flour is superior in both flavor and the end product.  They bake enough they should be the ones to know!  And frankly, I tend to believe them over you.  No offense and nothing personal.  If you want to buy cheap, chemically processed flour.. that's entirely your choice and your yardstick. 


If you can get it great - if you can't or simply don't want to, don't. 

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Due to health problems and a long absence, I lost track of this thread.  Otherwise I'd have posted this correction a LONG time ago.

So the issue was that I had been told on more than one occasion by ConAgra employees that they owned King Arthur flour.  I wasn't lying, and neither were those employees, despite the bizarre accusations of such.  They WERE confused, and passed that confusion along to me, however.

After calling them back a couple of times and finally getting through to someone a little more knowledgeable about what was REALLY going on, it turns out (and this was confirmed by someone at KAF) that ConAgra does custom milling for King Arthur.  I no longer remember WHAT they mill, but a lot of King Arthur Flour is actually milled by ConAgra to King Arthur's specs.

So I was misinformed about ownership, but not about the fact that a lot of King Arthur flour comes out of ConAgra mills.  I apologize for passing the misinformation about ownership along.