The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

King Arthur flour -- worth the extra $$$?

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Felila's picture
Felila

King Arthur flour -- worth the extra $$$?

In another thread, Mike (last name?) opined that KA flours were a triumph of marketing, and not necessarily the best flours for the money.

I've been spending the extra money to get KA whenever I possibly can, convinced that this is going to give me better bread. And yet ... when I look back on the times that I've had to use other flour, like Stone-Buhr, I don't remember noticing any great difference in outcome. I do notice a difference between regular WW and KA white WW, and buy the latter when I can. 

I have also been economizing by buying Harvest King whenever I see it. Again, this seems to work well. 

Mike suggested that the Safeway brand organic bread flour was also worth a look. 

We get a limited range of flours out here in Hawai'i, probably nothing like the many kinds you could get on the US mainland.  There may well be local brands on the mainland that are just as good as KA.

What do y'all think? Is KA worth paying extra?

ehanner's picture
ehanner

From what I read last week about the price of food items in Hawaii,  I would make a concerted effort to find a good un bleached un bromated AP flour and learn to make good bread with it. There will be differences in the flours available but in my opinion you can learn how to handle the flour/dough from any major mill and make wonderful breads.

I still buy a bag of KA WW now and then but I stopped paying for the name when I learned to make great bread with Harvest King. For some reason HK isn't available in 50# bags but even in 5# bags it's $2.35 each and KA AP is $5.+ everywhere on the mainland.

From what I recall, you are paying $7.+ for a gallon of milk and double for about everything. The fuel costs to transport everything to the islands is having a dramatic effect on cost of living. 

Eric 

mse1152's picture
mse1152

Felila,

I just bought my second 50 lb. bag of Harvest King on Friday for $21.59 (up over $4 since my last purchase).  And if I add in the cost of gas to get to the supplier (45 mile round trip), it increases the price per pound by about 18 cents.  Still not bad, as hobby costs go.

It's a good flour; don't think you're slumming if you buy it instead of KA.  Especially if you give your dough a long rise.

Sue 

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

To start with, there's nothing wrong with KA.  They make a wide range of excellent products.

 

However, there are other products I feel to be as good for between 1/3 and 1/2 the price.  Years ago. i compared a large number of flours on the sourdoughhome.com web page.  And I passed the breads off to my wife for tasting without telling her what the deal was on each bread.  I left the room when she was eating the breads.  Same breads each time, just different flours.

 

And the results that we made very good bread with all the flours we tried, except the cake flour.  And that really was to be expected.  But wuth a range of flours, bleached and unbleached, we made good bread.  The test did get me to stop using Sam's  bread flour.  It rose nicely, but the bread didn't have much taste.

 

So, if you find yourself in a position where you can't get the greatest flour, or a neat flour you have heard about, take heart.  You can make good bread with what you have.  Overall, I found all purpose flour made bread that tasted better than the bread flours.  Harvest King and All-Trumps were exceptions, or would have been if I'd had them available to me when I ran the tests.

If your flour isn't delivering rise, a wetter dough, more dough development and/or more  riser can help.

 

If your flour isn't delivering great flavor, using a poolish, autolyse and other long pre-ferments can help.

 

Good luck,

Mike

 

Felila's picture
Felila

Got no complaints about my bread. After a lot of practice, my bread has a crisp grigne, crunchy crust, and fine crumb; it's moist and tasty. All thanks to you folks here, and Floyd's Pain sur Poolish recipe :)

No, I'm just looking to cut costs without compromising quality. 

 

suave's picture
suave

I do buy white and traditional KAF WW's because they are pretty much the only game in town.  I never order from KAF site though - I think their prices are daylight robbery. For regular baking store-brand unbleached AP is my flour of choice, and, thank heaven, it is still relatively cheap.  

Mike

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Definitely agree with Mike on the Safeway (Vons/Pavillions for me in Los Angeles) Organic. At $2.99 for a 5lb bag it's a bargain. I wish they had Whole Wheat in addition to AP. Ralph's (or Kroger for you folks) has just started to carry their own home brand of Organic flour as well, and it too is $2.99 for a 5lb bag.

Rudy