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KA bread flour better ... sigh

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Felila's picture
Felila

KA bread flour better ... sigh

I'm on food stamps and have been economizing on flour. Gold Medal bread flour is $4,99 for  5-pound bag here in expensive Honolulu; KA bread flour, same size, is $8.49. So, baking with Gold Medal. 

The supermarket was out of the Gold Medal, so I gritted my teeth and splurged on the KA. Big diff. Dough is springier, crust is crunchier, taste is better. But ... even a few dollars makes a difference when you're trying to eat on $155 a month in one of the most expensive cities in the US. (Lotsa beans and cabbage. Lucky I'm a good cook.)

I recently bought some vital wheat gluten when attempting to make use of some brown rice flour I was given. If the diff between GM and KA is gluten content, would adding VWG bring the GM up a notch?

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

KA makes flours from very low gluten (cake flour) to very high (Sir Launcelot, used for bagels and the like). There is minimal processing and great attention to quality and integrity of the grain. I would bet that dollar for dollar you are getting more nutrition in the KAF than in the processed Gold Medal, in the example you gave.

tchism's picture
tchism

See if you can find a source for Pendelton Flour Mills (PFM) flours. They usually are found in restaurants supply businesses that also sell to the public. Look for PFM's Morbread or Powerflour. Both are great for bread. Morbread would be close to KA AP and Power is closer to KA Bread Flour. They have a little different taste but act mush like the KA flours. They typically sell in larger amounts like 25 or 50 pound bags but are really cheap compared to the lb bags in the markets.

Felila's picture
Felila

The problem with buying large bags of flour is that I go through perhaps 5 to 8 pounds of bread flour a month. I use up 5 pound bags quickly enough that I can afford to leave the flour on the pantry shelf. Flour I use less often I have to store in the freezer compartment or the main fridge. Otherwise it gets bugs or grows rancid, not matter how carefully I seal it. Downside of living in the tropics. I do not have room to store 20 pounds of flour :(

tchism's picture
tchism

I can see you issue, I did store it in a freezer when I used it! 

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I have, in the  past, bought the bread flour which is way more expensive than a-p flour, but I can no longer afford bread flour - living on pension.  I buy the store brand unbleached a-p flour and while the dough isn't nearly as springy with the a-p, it still makes a good loaf of bread.  The big name brands are also out of my price range.  I don't live in the tropics, by the way; quite the opposite - I'm in Montreal.

tchism's picture
tchism

I have another possible recommendation. If you have a Walmart with a grocery section, see if they carry Wheat Montana Brand flour. I use their Prairie Gold which is made from a whole white wheat to feed one of my starters and in bread recipes. They also make Natural White which is a AP flour. They are good quality flours and Walmart has them priced nicely. I can get them here in N. CAL but don't know if the Walmart in your area would carry them!

Felila's picture
Felila

I can check. I hate going there, but it's worth it for bread. 

I have a Costco membership, but they sell 25-pound bags of AP flour, which is not what I need. 

tchism's picture
tchism

I know what you mean, I go to Walmart only for things I can't get elsewhere! I hope they have it and that it works well for you!

PeterS's picture
PeterS

Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour is the retail name of its Harvest King product, a high quality unbleached bread flour used by many reputable artisan bakeries. It has slightly less protein than King Arthur Bread Flour (12% vs 12.7% 14%) making it more like King Arthur's All Purpose Flour (Sir Galahad flour) 11.7% and many european bread products.  Nutritionally, all these products are similar except for the protein difference which is probably more significant for baking than nutrition.

The higher protein content of King Arthur bread flour (same as their Sir Lancelot commercial product) gives stronger doughs with potentially higher oven spring. This is especially attractive to commercial bakers making bagels,breads with high whole wheat contents and loaf products with very short production times and intensive mixing. It also is a little more forgiving to the home baker.

A lower protein flours won't require as much water, if you are going from bread flour to something more like an all purpose flour decrease your hydration. That will also help your crust.

I have used all these flours and with good flavor results. I suspect your recipe has a greater impact on the flavor than the flour.

Adding vital gluten is a common practice if one wants to boost the protein (gluten) content of a flour. Even KA promotes it on its website.

General Mills Better for Bread Product information 
King Arthur Commercial Flour Products Information

Edited 7/20 to correct protein contents.

King Arthur Retail Flour Products Information

Felila's picture
Felila

I will try adding a little vital gluten and see if I like the results.

Recipe is the same for both flours, the levain from Reinhart's Artisan Bread Every Day. I make it over three days (or more) to maximize flavor. I'm not a very experimental baker. I like how this recipe turns out; it's easy; I need to keep my sourdough starter going. Been making this for years.

DivingDancer's picture
DivingDancer

If budget is an issue, you may want to consider simply using King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour.  According to a very informative post on this site (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/39155/tartine-no-3-which-flour-mediumstrong-wheat-flour), KA bread flour only has 1% more protein than KA unbleached APF.  I've used both, recently, and honestly find the performance of one to be indistinguishable from the other in sourdough.

Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

I too am a shopper who watches his budget. I bake almost all the bread my family eats and have used both all purpose and bread flour from many sources: King Arthur, Gold Medal, Pillsbury, Bob's Red Mill, and others. I've never seen much of a difference between various national brands of AP flour, that can't be attributed to differences in protein content. Check the side of the bag for this information. The differences you mention certainly can be traced to the higher protein content of bread flour.

Try using the Gold Medal Better For Bread. It may be that the higher gluten in that flour will give you the results you want.

Oh yes, one other product comes to mind, though it may not be available in your area. I live in northern Ohio, where there are many Amish. A product popular with a lot of them who bake is Montana Sapphire Flour (which my mother also used.) The company is now owned by Conagra, but it seems to still be the same unbleached flour it's always been. It's sold around here in 25 pound bags. You might want to try it if it's sold in Hawaii.