The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

True Purposes of KA Flour?

Got-to-Baguette-Up's picture

True Purposes of KA Flour?


I've noticed that many users call for KA All Purpose flour, and I just read on a post that the reason for this is it has a comparable protein level to artisan bread flour.

However, KA Bread flour has 14 or so percent protein, making it more akin to high gluten flour.  What is the best purpose for KA Bread Flour?  Bagels and pizza, and stuff where you want a high gluten flour?  Why the deceptive labeling? 

suave's picture

They are not violating any laws and they can name their flours however they damn well please.  And no, KA Bread Flour is nowhere near true high gluten flour in protein content.. 

jimbtv's picture

KA AP has 11.7 % protein and their bread flour has 12.7%. Not much of a difference there.

KA Sir Lancelot is upwards of 14%.

lepainSamidien's picture

Alright . . . let's all just take a chill pill and calm down a minute. I know that we all have the right to say what we "damn well please" and--knowing that flour labeling is a powerfully divisive issue--let's try to keep our cool when someone posts an honest question. "Deceptive" labeling is not the same thing as "illegal" labeling, suave, and I think that Got-to-baguette-up asks an interesting question: is calling the flour in the blue bag "bread" flour deceptive? In a way, yes, but in a way, no : while you could just as well use AP flour to make bread (hence the ALL purpose, bread included), the "bread" flour is designed to make more traditional American breads at home. I imagine that King Arthur came up with their proprietary blend of wheats and developed a milling process to produce this particular flour for home and commercial bakers making bread and pizza in a very particular way. The higher protein content suggests that they were trying to create a product that could withstand intensive mechanical beating and trap a whole lot of air, making large and airy loaves rather than something like muffins or cupcakes which require a more delicate crumb. 

KA Bread is reported to have a 12.7% protein content, as previously stated. While this puts it in the lower range of "high-gluten" flours, it will behave much differently than commercial HG flours, which typically boast of a 14-15% protein content. 

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Isn't really available in the UK. If it is its normally an American import.

We have plain flour (aka cake flour), which is too weak for bread baking, or bread flour. 

I suppose our bread flour does fall along the same strength as AP flour unless it's labelled as Strong Bread Flour.

AlanG's picture

in bread baking and it performs just fine.  I commented about this on another thread where I was comparing their AP and Bread Flours in several different Hamelman recipes.  I saw no difference in the bread so I settled on just using AP flour for all baking except cakes where a lower gluten flour is necessary.

breadboy025's picture

Regarding labeling--I never see % protein listed on any packaging of any commercial flour.  Other than searching over the internet (such as here), how can I accurately find out the protein of various flours?  Do local millers accurately know their protein? 


I personally love the performance of the blue bag/bread flour from KAF for my various breads but I tend to use APF (red bag) for my sourdough.  I haven't really tried with blue but maybe a future attempt?  I use KAF almost exclusively for my baking, and don't know other flours to use that are readily available.  I avoid Pillsbury and GoldMedal, and the generic supermarket brands, and particularly avoid the Costco bromated APF, but should I be?  The bleached bromated flours I avoid--I have seen explained and have no problem.  But is there a reason to favor KAF over the cheaper more widely available flours?

alfanso's picture

I can't personally vouch for this list as I found it posted a few years ago.  Sorry "foreigners", but this lists only some major brands marketed in the USA and maybe Canada..



Best Use: makes average biscuits, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, pizza crusts, quick breads, waffles, yeast breads.

  • -Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour, 10.5%
  • -Pillsbury Best All-Purpose Flour, 10 to 11.5%
  • -Pioneer All-Purpose Flour, 10%
  • -White Wings All-Purpose Flour, 10%


Best Use: cream puffs, puff pastry, yeast breads, pizza crusts.

  • -Heckers and Ceresota All-Purpose Flour, 11.5 to 11.9 %
  • -King Arthur All-Purpose Flour, 11.7%
  • -Robin Hood All-Purpose Flour, 12.0%

BREAD FLOUR - 11.7 to 12.9% protein

Best Use: traditional yeast breads, bread machine, pizza crusts, pasta.

  • -Gold Medal Better For Bread, 12% 
  • -King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour, 12.7%
  • -Pillsbury Best Bread Flour, 12.9%
  • -White Lily Unbleached Bread Flour, 11.7%

DURUM WHEAT (Semolina) 13 to 13.5% protein

Best Use: Pasta.

  • -Hodgson Mill Golden Semolina & Extra Fancy Durum Pasta Flour, 13.3% 
  • -King Arthur Extra Fancy Durum Flour, 13.3%

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR - 12.9 to 14% protein

Best Use: hearth breads, blending with other flours.

  • -Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flour, 13.3%
  • -King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
  • -King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
  • -Pillsbury Best Whole Wheat Flour, 12.9%

HIGH-GLUTEN FLOUR 14 to 15% protein

Best Use: bagels, pizza crusts, blending with other flours.

  • -King Arthur Organic Hi-Gluten Flour, 14% 
  • -King Arthur Sir Lancelot Unbleached Hi-Gluten Flour, 14.2%

VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN FLOUR, Breadmaking Supplement - 65 to 77% protein

Best Use: Added to raise gluten. Adds extra gluten to low-gluten whole grain flours, such as rye, oat, teff, spelt, or buckwheat.

  • -Arrowhead Mills Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 65.0% 
  • -Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
  • -Gillco Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
  • -Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 66.6%
  • -King Arthur Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 77.8%


CAKE FLOUR - 7% to 9.4% protein

Best Use: cakes, blending with national brands all-purpose flour to make pastry flour or Southern flour substitute.

  • -King Arthur Queen Guinevere Cake Flour, 7.0%
  • -King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend, 9.4% 
  • -Pillsbury Softasilk Bleached Cake Flour, 6.9%
  • -Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
  • -Swans Down Bleached Cake Flour, 7.1%

PASTRY FLOUR - 8 to 9% protein

Best Use: biscuits, cookies, pastries, pancakes, pie crusts, waffles.

  • -King Arthur Unbleached Pastry Flour, 8%
  • -King Arthur Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, 9%


Best Use: biscuits, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, quick breads, waffles.

  • -Martha White Bleached All-Purpose Flour, 9%
  • -White Lily Bleached All-Purpose Flour, 8 to 9%

SELF-RISING FLOUR (flour, baking powder, salt) - 8 to 10.5% protein

Best Use: biscuits, cookies, pancakes, muffins, quick breads, waffles. 

  • -Gold Medal Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 10.5%
  • -King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour, 8.5%
  • -Martha White Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 9.4%
  • -Pillsbury Best Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 9.7%
  • -Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
  • -White Lily Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 8 to 9% 

ALL PURPOSE BAKING MIXES (flour, shortening, baking powder, sugar, salt) - 6.25 to 12.5% protein

Best Use: biscuits, cookies, coffee cakes, pancakes, quick breads, pastry, waffles

  • -Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Baking Mix, 12.5%
  • -Bisquick Original Baking Mix, 7.5%
  • -Jiffy All Purpose Baking Mix, 6.25%
  • -King Arthur Flour All Purpose Baking Mix, 10%
  • -Pioneer Original Baking Mix, 7.5%

INSTANT FLOUR 10.5 to 12.6% protein

Best Use: thicken gravies, sauces, and soups without lumps.

  • -Gold Medal Wondra Quick Mixing Flour, 10.5%
  • -Pillsbury Best Shake & Blend Flour, 12.6%


Retail Flour Companies - Brands:

  • -Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Milwaukie, Oregon -Bob's Red Mill 
  • -C.H. Guenther & Son Inc, San Antonio, Texas - Pioneer Flour, Pioneer Baking Mix, White Wings Flour
  • -General Mills Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota - Bisquick, Gold Medal Flour, (sold US Pillsbury Flour , retains Pillsbury frozen goods)
  • -Hain Celestial Group Inc, Boulder, Colorado - Arrowhead Mills
  • -J.M. Smucker Company, Orrville, Ohio - Martha White Flour, Pillsbury Flour, Robin Hood Flour, White Lily Flour
  • -King Arthur Flour Company, Norwich, Vermont - King Arthur Flour
  • -Reily Foods Company, New Orleans, Louisiana - Swan's Down Cake Flour, Presto Self Rising Cake Flour
  • -Uhlmann Company, Kansas City, Missouri - Heckers Flour, Ceresota Flour
breadboy025's picture

Thanks for posting and doing legwork for me. :)


That's comprehensive.  Do you have any biases for or against any specific brand?  I know that most picky people like local milled flour but in my area I can't find it, and I don't feel like paying shipping fees to companies to get it delivered.  You have any idea how these protein percents are calculated? 


The brands that I have used are KAF, Bob's Red Mill, and Hodson.  Pricewise, I'd love to use Pillsbury or Gold Medal but I'm sticking with what I know for now.

alfanso's picture

Why yes, in a reverse way.  I use Gold Medal or Pillsbury AP, bread and WW flours, Hodgson Mills Stone Ground rye flour and my go-to Italian market for buckets of durum - I don't even know the brand name as they scoop it out of a 50 lb. bag into my buckets from behind their counter.

I'll venture a guess that if I used fancy flours, salts and waters that my breads would likely taste better.  But being that what I bake seems to be pretty good, I'm not at all motivated otherwise.

Protein content of any flour? Look at the nutrition label of a bag of (ex.) bread flour.

You need two pieces of information from it: the number of grams of protein per serving, and the number of total grams of flour per serving. Let's say the numbers are 5 and 40, respectively. To learn the protein percentage, we’ll divide 5 by 40: 5 ÷ 40 = .125, or 12.5%.   As a caveat, this is a VERY general number and nowhere's near specific.  But should put one somewhere in the ballpark.


Arjon's picture

In mid-2015, I was told 13% by Smucker customer relations

Arjon's picture

and can involve balancing a number of considerations such as price, availability / purchasing convenience, various personal choices / preferences such as organic, how discerning your palate is, and more.

The flours I choose to use are based on my individual combination of values and preferences, so what's "best" for me can be anywhere from great to poor for you. 

dabrownman's picture

30 different proteins found in flour and only two of them combine to make gluten when they get wet.  Durum has a high protein content at 14% but not the right kinds to make gluten strands.  A hard spring white wheat (what many high gluten flours are made from) grown in the pacific northwest at 12.5% protein may be considered high gluten because it has a hug amount of the two proteins that make gluten.

So it isn't about protein percent but it is all about what the protein is.  The high gluten flour I use for bagels, never for pizza since it isn't very extensible, is 12.5% protein but it is a straight hard, spring, white wheat grown in the pacific northwest and high in the two proteins that make a difference in gluten formation.


fupjack's picture

The ash content is a different rating that is supposed to relate to bread characteristics.  It's I think the amount of ash left after incinerating a sample.  Higher levels means stonger dough...?  I'm really not sure.  There's farinographs and falling numbers and etc. that I've collected for every dough I use, not because I understand it but because I hope that I can use the doughs and from the experience, start to feel the connection between those numbers and the results.

Really, the numbers are sort of like guidelines.  Age of the flour, relative humidity, grind consistency, time of year of the harvest, where it was harvested. etc, all can apparently affect it (or so I am told), but there's no easy way to track that. If you can get it to work, it works.