The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Miller's Milling AP flour from Costco

AndyPanda's picture
AndyPanda

Miller's Milling AP flour from Costco

Ages ago, I picked up a bag of AP flour from Costco.  It came in a 25 pound plastic bag and said "Miller's Milling" and said it was from the Oakland, CA operation.  (I live very close to Oakland).  To my great surprise, that AP flour has plenty of gluten and made the best sourdough (and pizza too) that I have ever made.  It's all I've been using for over a year with just excellent results every time.

Last week I went to Costco to buy more and this time it came in a paper bag that says it's from Fresno.  The color is orange/tan (well compared to the whiter shade of what I have been using).   And I have had nothing but trouble with it.  At first I thought it was just the temperature change of the cooler season ... the starter gets bubbles but doesn't rise and then the dough feels like it has enough gluten  immediately after kneading but the gluten disappears during the rise time and when you're ready to shape it the gluten is all gone and all the gas just makes small bubbles on the surface and I get no rise.  The dough starts to feel like goo.

I called Miller's and they told me that Costco had insisted on paper bags instead of plastic and Oakland doesn't do paper so they had to go with the Fresno flour.   But I still have no idea why the same labelled product (H&R AP flour) would behave so differently.   I'm guessing there is some enzyme (diastic barley malt maybe?) that is causing the gluten to dissolve during my long ferment time.  (my sourdough method is a 3 hour warm rise with stretch and folds and then a cool rise overnight for 12-15 hours and then into the oven).

Anyone else have this issue?

Old Baker's picture
Old Baker

Can't speak about the flour, but it may be that Costco is trying to reduce the volume of plastic and provide a package that can be recycled.

foodforthought's picture
foodforthought

Andy,

I'm on my second bag of that Fresno flour and no issues so far with:

  • Anis Boubasa's Baguettes & ficelles, 20+ hour bulk ferment, 2 hour shape/final rise
  • William Alexander's (52 Loaves)  Peasant Bread, 4-8 hour bulk ferment, 2 hour shape/final rise 
  • Jason's Quick Croccodrillo Ciabatta, 2-4 hour bulk ferment, 2 hour shape/final rise

For the Peasant Loaves, I use my sourdough starter to build a levain. The Baguettes and Ciabatta are dry yeast only. In all cases I adlib with a poolish of 30-40% of the specified recipe flour. Have toyed with room temp only and cold bulk ferments with no significant excursions. Not sure what might account for your problems but you might have a more discerning eye than me, a relative new arrival to bread. I confess that my wife is a bread ninja and has coached me well. Am curious if you've overcome the problems or just migrated to a different flour source.

Phil

AndyPanda's picture
AndyPanda

Well I haven't tried the Fresno flour since .. but I bought the Central Milling flour at Costco (also in paper bags) and at first I had trouble with that too ----- and I finally figured out that I have to use more flour and less water to get it to work.    Now I'm thinking it's because of how it rained for weeks non-stop during that time and the paper bags vs plastic bags allowed the flour to absorb moisture?  Just a wild guess.  

I'm finally baking decent sourdough again but it's 310 grams of flour instead of 300 and 190 grams of water instead of 200 in order to get my loaves to turn out like they did when I was using the Oakland flour in plastic bags.   Maybe I'll try the Fresno flour again since it is a lot better price than the Central Milling flour.  Weather here looks like dry and warmer for the next week or so :)