The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tried Ultragrain flour with 30% WW in a Sourdough, and so far I don't care for it.

Nick Sorenson's picture
Nick Sorenson

Tried Ultragrain flour with 30% WW in a Sourdough, and so far I don't care for it.

I have been using King Arthur's AP White (Unbleached) and it seems like a good AP flour. Most have less gluten (only 3g protein where KA's has 4g).

BUT we recently tried a bag of ConnAgra Ultragrain (30% Whole Wheat). It was there so I figured why not try it. It also had 4g protein. Anyways, I made a loaf of Sourdough in a loaf pan and I am not super crazy about this one. I've also considered finding someone with a grinder or buying the KitchenAid grinder unit for a test to see what the flavor of the entire wheat berry would taste like. But after this... I am re-thinking. Maybe I only like white with Sourdough.

Any other opinions on the "proper" flour taste for Sourdough?

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Don't make a hasty judgement based on using the ConAgra ultraGrain whole wheat flour. I had a mild flirtation with it because I could buy 20# for less than $10 at Costco. However, after going through the flour, I found I didn't care enough for the flavor to buy it again.

Try other brands of flour before you give up on whole wheat in sourdough. You haven't listed where you live so there's no way other folks here can point you in the direction of a locally available flour that is both tasty and reasonably priced. A good choice for the immediate timeframe is King Arthur White Whole Wheat. It has the same nutritional value as their whole wheat and a slightly sweet flavor to it.

mrfrost's picture

A more valid comparison might be to make your own 30% ww blend using the KAAP and KA White whole wheat.

I'm willing to bet that will make a subjectively better loaf of bread.

Like PG above, I believe the retail grade of the Ultragrain AP(30 % ww) is not ideally suited for breadmaking, although it's probably adequate and maybe even good for some people.

Actually, I believe Ultragrain/Con Agra makes/distributes a ww flour more suitable for bread making, but only on an institutional level at this time. I think it's called Ultragrain Hard. I think you can get it at Honeyville.

clazar123's picture

Do you like beer or wine? Well, they are both fermented drinks but totally different, of course. Whole wheat and AP flour are like that. Both have great attributes but are totally different. Their taste and texture in baked goods  is each unique. Don't judge by the Ultragrain,please. I bought a single  5# bag 2 years ago and I still have some left. It is very bland and seemed to make a dense loaf no matter what I did.I can make a great soft sandwich loaf with the coarsest whole wheat but I wasn't impressed with this flour. I periodically add it to something in small amounts to get it used up.

Good whole wheat should have a sweet, just-cut- grass smell when it is mixed with a slight tanin bitterness that is characterisitc of red wheat. Delicious! But that's just me.

longhorn's picture

I don't use Ultragrain a lot but I don't have as negative a reaction for I think it has several benefits worth consideration.

The big positives IMO are that

1) the micropulverized bran is far friendlier to the loaf and the crumb can be essentially identical to a bread made with AP

2) it has 30 percent whole wheat and

I find it is particularly good for biscuits and such...

I normally use 5 to 10 percent whole wheat in my artisanal boules (rest is usually KA AP). For whole wheat I use KA Whole Wheat, KA Organic Whole Wheat, KA White Whole Wheat, and home milled whole wheat flour when I find wheat I like. I typically use conventional (dark) whole wheat flours at 5 percent to add just a touch of earthiness. Above 10 percent I find conventional whole wheat begins to a touch of bitterness and impacts loaf volume and crumb. I do go as high as 20 percent and occasionally 30 percent with KA White Whole Wheat which is not as bitter. To summarize I am not particularly enamored of 30 percent whole - due to both flavor (minor) and denser crumb (bigger irritant). I don't mind the flavor as much when I am doing walnut bread or something like that.

So I like the greater oven spring and more open crumb I get with Ultragrain 30% flour. I do think home milled flour and KA Organic WW have better flavor, but...walnuts and such help close the gap. As indicated, I don't use Ultragrain a lot but I occasionally use it when I want a higher WW loaf with an open crumb. I think it has its place.


subfuscpersona's picture

A simple test for the freshness of your whole wheat flour is to *taste it*. Put a pinch or 2 of the whole wheat flour on your tongue. Let it dissolve in your mouth. Does it have a faintly sweet taste as is dissolves in your mouth? If YES, then it is fresh.

I normally home mill organic wheat. I use some of the flour immediately for bread. The remaining whole wheat flour is refrigerated, and, after it has aged for 2-3 weeks, is also used for bread. I may keep my (refrigerated) home milled wheat flour for up to 3 months before it is used up. It *always* has this faintly sweet taste for up to 3 months (from the date of milling).

Sometimes I purchase a quality brand of commercially milled whole wheat flour. It never tastes sweet on the tongue, even if tasted immediately on purchase. It can make good bread, but, in my opinion, not as good as 3-month-old (refrigerated) home-milled whole wheat flour.

This is a simple test for your whole grain flour. No fancy equipment required. No lab test results required. I've flound it to be quite reliable.