The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Is Canadian Flour Better Than American?

Ozzie's picture

Is Canadian Flour Better Than American?


I just moved to Montreal from the States.  I've been baking bread regularly since 2007 and so I consider myself very familiar with the texture of dough for various bread types.  I use my hands for mixing and kneading the bread.  What I've noticed with the Canadian All Purpose Unbleached Flour is that it comes together very fast and with little amount of water.  The gluten develops beautifully and the resulting bread is superb.  It has a huge rise with the crust being crunchy and a crumb that is perfectly chewey.  I'm just baffled, is this everyone elses experience?  Years of baking in the States and I never ever had the same results even though I was using anything from King Arthur to organic bread flour to AP Unbleached.   Here in Montreal, I only use the Robin Hood Unbleached AP flour and I get superior results.  At first, I thought it might be due to the environment and the type of yeast that grows here but I tried some 00 Italian pizza flour to see if I get the same results and what do you know!  The 00 pizza flour didn't produce the same high rising and crunchy crust that I get from regular Unbleached AP flour.  I'm just curious, is the Canadian flour superior to American one?

tananaBrian's picture

I just looked and the Robin Hood AP flour and King Arthur AP flour both have the same amount of protein, so it's not that.  That said, I have noticed differences from brand to brand as well, even with the nutrition label otherwise looks identical.  I've always assumed it's the particular type of wheat that was used to make the flour maybe there's a difference in enzymes or something that doesn't normally show up on the nutrition label.  In general, Canada leans towards harder wheats I believe and it could be that their softer wheats are a different (average blend?) breed of wheat than ours as well.  This company: Pendleton Flour Mills sells flour that (IMHO) performs more like what you are describing and they are from northeast Oregon ...climate very similar to Canada's, and I'm going to guess that most of their wheat is grown around the Pendleton area as well.  I'll quit rambling ...but yes, I think you're on to something here!  Maybe one of the bio-chemist-scientist types around here will chime in?





Floydm's picture

I just bought my autumnal 50lb bag of Pendleton Flour Mills Morbread flour at Cash & Carry and agree with Brian that it performs beautifully, far better than other flours I find at the grocery store including the premium brands.

I'm excited to hear that you've had similar experiences with Robin Hood.  I'm hoping to get the chance to bake with Canadian flours more in the not-too-distant future. :)


scottsourdough's picture

Remember, same amount of protein doesn't mean same amount of gluten. If the wheat is higher quality it may have better protein quality, and more gluten in a given amount of total protein.

jaywillie's picture

Pendleton Mills has an Oregon address, but their corporate headquarters are in Tennesee! That makes me wonder if they blend flours from wheat grown all over the country. It's so hard to get that sort of info without direct contact with someone in the company. I've never used the Morbread flour that Floyd speaks so highly of, but if he can get it at Cash and Carry, so can I, so I'm going to try it.

For those in the Portland, Ore., area, I have a find for you. At the Alberta Co-op, they sell Shepherd's Grain high-gluten flour (13% protein, per an email from Shepherd's Grain) in the bulk section -- for 59 cents per pound! A great bargain, as far as I'm concerned, especially considering it's organic and from sustainable farms. Shepherd's Grain ( is a growers cooperative from the Paloose in Eastern Washington. I've been using it for a few months now, and have no complaints. I need to make a loaf with only that flour to really test the flavor. To this point I've only used it in conjunction with whole grain flours, so it's hard to tell what flavor it's bringing to the loaf. I got it particularly for bagels and haven't done them yet! (Alberta Coop also has Oregon-grown and -milled whole wheat flour. In the past they have also had Oregon rye, but they didn't have it the last time I went.)


tananaBrian's picture

I've never called Pendleton Flour Mills to find out where the wheat comes from, but I'm not purest enough to care as long as it works and tastes well!  I buy it at the local restaurant supply company for $22/50lb ($0.44 per lb).  Especially for Alaska, that's a real bargain ...but you just have to be willing to buy in 50 lb increments.  The only other restriction is that the restaurant supply company here only carries Morbread and Power Flour (high-gluten flour for pizza, bagels, or as a gluten-booster for other breads).  We buy both.  I didn't know about Shepherd's Grain ...sounds like a good outfit.




PaddyL's picture

I live in Montreal and buy 'no name' unbleached a-p flour all the time.  I know people here who, when they go to the States for holidays, bring RH or other Canadian flour with them, as the American flour just doesn't measure up.  The standards for flour in Canada are higher than than they are for American flour.

Ozzie's picture

Thank you all for validating my assumption.  I also suspected that it's the genetic makeup of the wheat.  It's so light and fluffy that it doesn't take much water to bring it together and form a ball.  When I first arrived here, I used to spend so much money on bread flour sold by specialty bakeries such as Le Premiere Moisson until I discovered the Robin Hood flour by accident and noticed that I'd get the same results.  I don't think it's because of the wheat being of the "hard" variety because I've baked with Semolina, which is a hard wheat and the dough with RH is nowhere near that density and hardness.  Could it be that it just has more gluten? 

ejm's picture

I used to think that Canadian flour was different from US flour but since almost all the major flour companies have been purchased by Smucker foods, I'm thinking that now, there may be very little difference. Robin Hood and Five Roses are no longer separate companies; they are both owned and operated by Smucker. If you phone the customer service line, you will  undoubtedly talk to a very nice person who is in an office in one of the midwestern states. This person will commiserate that rye flour is no longer available and that the high-gluten bread flour is NOT unbleached any more. But, alas, there will be nothing more than commiseration.

Correct me if I'm wrong. I'd LOVE to be wrong.

-Elizabeth, in Toronto

PaddyL's picture

The two companies are owned by Smuckers, as are so many of our Canadian companies now, double sigh, but the flour produced by those companies IN CANADA still has to meet Canadian standards, as does all flour produced here.  I found that the last couple of times I bought RH flour on sale, that's the all-purpose bleached, it was lumpy and had to be sifted before using, so I've gone back to buying the 'no name' brand, or Weston, if I can ever get it.  Loblaw's used to carry Weston flour in 5 kg bags and it was cheaper than the big brand names.

ejm's picture

Note that both Weston and No-Name 'unbleached' contain Azodicarbonamide, which is (as far as I can tell from reading) an oxidizing (aka: bleaching) agent that is added to flour to improve it. I'm not entirely convinced that either Weston or No-Name 'unbleached' are actually unbleached at all, or even if they are really different from the bleached flour. Take a look at the ingredients lists on the flours....

Lately, I've been buying Selection unbleached flour. It contains alpha amylase as an improver. As far as I can tell, even though alpha amylase is not a bleaching agent.

Ingredients Lists
Selection (Metro) “unbleached” all-purposewhite flour (contains wheat) niacin, iron, ascorbic acid, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, alpha amylase, folic acid, contains wheat gluten
No Name
“unbleached” all-purpose
wheat flour, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, amylase, L-cysteine hydrochloride, vitamins and minerals (niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)


If I lived on the west coast, I'd buy Rogers Flour ( - it has no additives. Alas, it is not sold in Ontario.


(Some people have suggested that I purchase flour from King Arthur. This makes zero sense to me, to be forced to import flour into a country that grows so much wheat)

suave's picture

I too heard many nice things about Canadian flours, so when one of the local stores started selling all-purpose Five Roses I was quite excited.  The flour was absolute junk though, it was extremely weak, gave slack dough and was nowhere near as good as store brand AP flour I usually use.  Good thing I only bought one bag.

jackie9999's picture

I mainly use unbleached bread flour and since Robin Hoods bread flour is bleached I had to look elsewhere. I get most of my flours from Bulk Barn, but if I'm near Clarington I stock up at Tyrone Mill, they sell their own milled flour and are famous for their apple cider donuts!

Ozzie's picture

It's not the recipe, it's the flour!  Back in the States, I also used King Arthur and other "artisan" flour but never I made such fine bread until I came to Canada.  Here in Montreal, I also tried Italian Pizza flour but the results were similar to what I used to get back in the States.  I also noticed that the Italian Pizza flour was as hard as the American flour and required way more water than the Robin Hood flour. 

As for the yeast, I use SAF yeast that I purchased 6 years ago from Williams-Sanoma!  I've been keeping it in the freezer all along and it's still quite strong and active.  I first bought this yeast when I started my bread baking adventure but as I got good at it, I started using my own starter and that's why the yeast has lasted this long.  When I got to Montreal, I started using it instead of my own starter because I don't want to commit to weekly bread making schedule.  I use only 1/4 teaspoon for 6 to 7 cups of flour and let it rise over night for maybe 9 or 10 hours.  Then I put the risen dough "undisturbed" (no punching or kneeding) in the fridge for another 7 or 8 hours before I pull it out to bake.  When I'm ready to bake, I form the dough and wait for another 30 to 45 minutes for another rise.  So technically, my bread only goes through 2 rises.

I don't know if the flour date would make any difference because I've bought the Robin Hood flour from many different sources and it's always given the same results. 

I'm heading back to the States tomorrow to take care of my dad for a few months and I'll be sure to schlep a bag of Robin Hood flour with me just to validate my hypothesis!  Who knows, it could be the Montreal environment that produces such fine bread!

PaddyL's picture

I don't personally buy Robin Hood because it's too expensive, but I'll vouch for Canadian flour any day.

Ozzie's picture

Robin Hood too expensive?  I buy a 5lb bag (ok in Canadian terms, a 2.5kg bag) for $4.99 at Segal on St-Laurent, which is way cheaper than what I used to pay for bread flour at the bulk food groceries in the States. 

Ozzie's picture

As I mentioned back in my last post, I was heading to California to take care of my dad and I was determined to take some all purpose Robin Hood flour with me to see if the "environment" made a difference.

Well, I'm happy to report that it WASN'T the environment and I am still getting puffy, light, and fabulous bread with the Robin Hood flour here in Cali.  I use it to make Pizzeta in a 10" cast iron pan and my Pizzeta exhibits the exact same characteristics that I noticed in Montreal: crunchy and crispy on the outside with a soft and well risen crumb on the inside.  Using the American flour, I could never get my pizzeta to stay crispy past the 1st 5 minutes after you pull it off the pan.  By the time it was cool enough to bite into, it had lost its crispyness on the crust.

This never happens when I use the all-purpose Robin Hood flour.  Alas, I'm happy to report the result of my "scientific" experiment!  It's not the environment, it's the flour itself.  Incidentally, I used the exact same batch of SAF yeast that I usually use in Montreal.


papasmurf2525's picture

Hi there.  I am new to this forum.   I have to agree that Canadian flour tends to be better the US flour because of the use of Durum wheat.   Robin Hood flour is good, but I have found that the No Name flour to be just as good or better.

The biggest difference you will find when using most any kind of flour is age.  If you can buy your flour, and store it in a cool, dry spot for 6 - 8 months, (up to a year), the flour will be better to work with.

You can go to some Hutterite colonies and actually purchased fresh ground flour.  What a difference.

On a side note, I have work as a cook in bush camps in Northern Canada, and as a flour extender, I have had to use Cattail pollen.  Baking bread with this sucks, but it is okay for stuff like pancakes

estherc's picture

This is what I got with 80 % Canadian Western Family organic unbleached AP and 20% artisan whole wheat red fife. I am pretty consistent when in the US using Shepherd's Grain or Bob's with good results. But this is the best looking batch I've ever done. Earlier this week did another batch almost this good. I live in Oregon and spend a few months every winter in BC.

EinD's picture

I have an entire extended family who live in Canada 6 month a year and 6 months in the US.  They all complain about american flour and say that it doesn't perform in the same way.  My one aunt actually takes a motorhome down and brings 20lb bags of flour for all her Canadian friends.  They all say that nothing rises the same or finishes in cakes either.  Most Canadians use all purpose flour for everything and as you have found it is pretty failsafe.  They believe, and this is definitely not scientific, that the high gluten level of our hard wheat makes the difference.  We grow a very different wheat due to the short growing season and it has to be hardy.  No idea if this helps but I understand your frustration.


Breadismymiddlename's picture

I've been baking bread for 45+ years, and I've lived in the US the whole time.  For the last 20 years have used Canadian all purpose flour exclusively, my Aunt in BC would get it to me.  Now she is in her 80s, and I need to buy something closer to the San Francisco Bay Area....ANY suggestions?  Will drive a ways, will go to any restaurant supply...or Costco or wherever...just tell me - please.  Thanks so much.


Danni3ll3's picture

that was used in the baking class I took this past weekend. The huge downfall is that it is not cheap but it made super tasty bread. I think it comes from your area so give it a try. 

TomK's picture

Lots of the artisanal bakers in the Bay Area get their flours from Central Milling, their distributor is Keith Giusto Baking Supply in Petaluma. Same family, different company, long story. I was just there last week, picked up lots of flour. Highly recommended.


MichaelLily's picture

Tartine is using Central Milling these days, and they seem to be liking it.

kendalm's picture

I've used all sorts of flours but never canadian. From my experience French flour comes together so fast and so smooth and delicate whereas ka flour for example requires at least twice the effort and the final glutenized dough is rubbery and tough. It tends to stretch as opposed to burst. I would venture to guess that Canada and her close ties to French culture has a lot to do with it.

Also having visited Montreal several times there are bakeries their that do bread just like you'd find in France.  There a one in plateau that is just amazing monsieur pinchot - incredible ! 

estherc's picture

I spend the winter at 3,400 ft in British Columbia. I was getting great results with Western Family Organic AP Canadian flour. I brought a bag home with me to see if I got the same results here. Looks like the answer is no. I think some of the great oven spring I was getting was from the altitude and slightly reduced air pressure. My loaves are still respectable but not the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen. In Canada they were a 10, this morning's bake was about a 7. 

HMSHardtack's picture

New bread maker in Toronto, Ontario and very happy with western milled Rogers flour, now available at my local Freshco grocery outlet.

Gourmand2go's picture

I confess, I haven't tried Robin Hood for many years because I recall my Mom stopped baking bread when she could no longer find gluten to add to it.  I'd been buying Five Roses until I discovered Rogers at my Kitchener Freshco store.  The results and quality vary with the wild climate from year to year, but I find I get a better rise and texture with Rogers.  Of course, the shelf is now bare but I tend to stock up normally and should be ok until the supply chain resumes.

SK grain farmer's picture
SK grain farmer

I believe that Canadian Western Red Spring wheat makes the best bread flour. Red spring wheat from the Dakotas is likely very similar. There are many varieties of wheat in Canada and the USA. Hard Red Spring, Red Spring, Hard Red Winter, Hard White Spring, Soft White Spring, White Spring, Durum, etc. Each variety has different qualities for different purposes. The growing season can also affect quality from year to year. See the following link for the Canadian Grain Commission for more detail.

Krisztina's picture

Hi, I just came across this forum post. Are you in SK? What would be a good SK brand to buy for SD bread making?

Danni3ll3's picture

They are in Estevan and they ship. 

Krisztina's picture

Thanks Danni, that is wonderful. I live in Regina :)

marcy goldman's picture
marcy goldman

I find Canadian flour performs a bit better, especially in bread (using hard spring wheat/bread flour) and also sweet goods such as biscotti. When I use American AP for instance, it takes far more flour to get the right batter or dough consistency. Protein levels might be the same numerically but the performance of the flour is telling and experiential results over-ride protein levels. (same as for thread counts in sheets - one company's 500 thread count all cotton is not the same as another company's same product). I have my recipes tested (I am in Montreal) with my American volunteer bakers (for my site, betterbakingdotcom)and they often tell me they needed a good 1/2 cup more flour for a typical biscotti for instance. 
Lots has to do with how long flour has been stored and/or which season you're baking in. Even the same flour will perform differently in winter vs. summer - and it has to do with storage and the humidity in your own kitchen.

I am using Ardent Mills Keynote (unbleached flour, red spring wheat). I've heard that Winter Hard Wheat is actually better for bread but Canada is a very loyal Hard Spring wheat sort of country so if anyone has any leads in getting winter wheat, hard flour -let me know. I think Red Fife might be one such. 

Danni3ll3's picture

that you like the Ardent Mill flour. I just picked up a bag to try it. The cost was significantly less than the Rogers No Additives Unbleached flour I usually use. 

As to the Red Fife Grain, I read that it can be used both as a hard red spring or winter wheat. So you would have to find out from the farmer when they planted it. I get mine from Daybreak Mills in Saskatchewan. I’ll have to ask them as it doesn’t state on they website. 

Danni3ll3's picture

I did ask Daybreak Mills about their RedFife and it is Hard Red Spring Wheat. 

Sellput's picture

The Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) require that all white flour and all foods sold in Canada that contain white flour, such as bread, cookies, and pastries, be made from enriched white flour. The sale of unenriched white flour or foods containing unenriched white flour is not permitted in Canada...


cfraenkel's picture

For those of us who are allergic to the stupid "enrichment" formula, this is the bane of my existence living in Canada.  It took me a LONG time to figure out too. It's the reason I ended up buying a mill, and the reason I actually drive to the US to buy un-enriched white flour. :-(  I imagine that the "enrichment" formula may be part of it, but I did find (before I had to stop buying Canadian Flour) when I moved here from the USA that Canadian flour is much thirstier. It was especially noticeable in pastries, I had to add a LOT more water to be able to make pie crust for example.

David R's picture
David R

I don't know the details on thirstiness, but it may also matter how dry the flour is (literally). There are percent moisture standards grain must meet when the farmers sell it, and probably other standards applied by mills - or applied to mills. If any of those standards are different in various places, or even if they're the same but easier to achieve in certain areas (for instance if some farmers regularly sell very dry grain while others struggle trying to get their damp grain dry enough), the flour could easily show it.

AmericanaIngredients's picture

We are a bakery ingredients and packaging distributor in Los Angeles, and move significant amounts of both Canadian flours and USA flours. Yes, flours from Canada are different from flours in USA.  The growing conditions in Canada are more favorable for spring wheat.  The colder temperatures during growing season often contribute to better quality starch and protein development.  During baking, the protein and starch quality are better with Canadian wheat.  The starches fuel yeast activity during baking and the better quality proteins provide for better gluten formation during baking, creating over all higher volume bread with more uniform gassing activity leading to overall enhanced characteristics of bread.  The additional and better quality of starches also help with higher water absorption with Canadian flours. The differences are negligible when it comes to taste.  Some of our big moving Canadian flours are high gluten Millennium, Galaxy and Blue Label.  Many key bread and bakery production companies use these flours for hearth breads, pizzas, sour dough breads, dumplings, pita, lavash, naan, baguette, focaccia, and much more. You may reach out with direct question via

Sophster's picture

Reading through this old thread, I see many favourable mentions of Robin Hood unbleached AP flour. Can anyone say whether they're using this in sourdough bread that usually calls for bread flour? I'm not a super-experienced bread maker (started at the start of the pandemic) and I make a bread evolved out of the Tartine recipe.

Many thanks!

Danni3ll3's picture

the 50 lb Keynote Strong Bakers Unbleached Flour by Arden Mills sold at the Wholesale Club. Before I stumbled on that, I used the 10 kg bags of Rogers Unbleached flour available in Safeway. 

I felt all the other flours had too much crap in them. 

Sophster's picture

Thanks Danni - I don't live close enough to a Wholesale Club.

mariana's picture

I use Robin Hood APF, both bleached and unbleached, for sourdough with good results. However, RH Best for Bread Homestyle White is better, I use it both for the sourdough starter and sourdough bread. Much tastier and more fragrant because it has higher ash content, creamier color.

Any Canadian all purpose flour is good to use in recipes that call for bread flour.

Sophster's picture

My only hesitation with the RH Best for Bread is that it is bleached. I'd like to avoid the having my bread contain the chemical process involved in bleaching flour. I wish RH made an unbleached version of Best for Bread!

idaveindy's picture

First, Welcome back!   I see from the Track tab on your user account page that you were here 6 years ago.


The web page at

under Ingredients, does not list any bleaching agent, such as Benzoyl peroxide.

Granted, it doesn't  _say_ "unbleached" but it would need to list the bleaching ingredient if it were.

The RH regular AP flour does list Benzoyl peroxide, at


Sophster's picture

That is so interesting! I wonder why they don't promote BFB as unbleached.

In looking at ingredients for for both unbleached AP and BFB,  I see they have the same protein content 13.3%. That surprised me as I always assumed bread flour would have a higher protein content

However, BFB has 2 ingredients that unbleached AP does not have: Xylanase and L-Cysteine. Having googled these, it would seem that this is what distinguishes this flour, and the addition of these is intended to improve performance for brread-making. I don't have a complete handle on the science of these ingredients, but presumably neither are harmful.


MTloaf's picture

According to Hamelman L-Cysteine is an amino acid found in proteins, and a major source of which is human hair. TMI
It makes the dough more extensible. 

troglodyte's picture

I live in the US, but have also lived (and baked bread) in Canada. To be honest, I did not notice much difference in the flours I used for baking bread in the two countries. We did notice differences in other food products, however. One example was Oreo cookies. Here were my own personal impressions of Oreos back in the early 1990s:

  • US Oreos:
    • The cookie has a distinct gritty texture as you eat it. You can feel the grit on the surface of the cookie and in the way it crumbles against your teeth as you chew the cookie.
    • The filling is opaque white. 
  • Canadian Oreos:
    • The cookie has a smooth, polished, almost waxy texture. The distinctive grittiness is not there.
    • The filling is more sugary/crystalline, and is somewhat translucent. 

I brought two plates of Oreos to work and ran a blind taste test, asking two simple questions: Which cookie do you prefer? Which cookie is from the US and which cookie is from Canada?

My coworkers were an equal mix of US Americans and Canadians. Both groups preferred the US Oreos (US tasters at a higher percentage). A significant majority of both groups correctly identified which cookie came from which source (US vs. Canada). They could tell the difference. 

Benito's picture

Hi Ozzie, fellow Canadian here who also frequently uses Robin Hood Best for Bread, bread flour.  I can reassure that it is definitely NOT bleached.  I use it for sourdough breads all the time, I seldom make commercial yeast bread.   You can have great results with this flour, they keep it quite consistent batch to batch, so you can have predictable results bake to bake.  I have baked a tiny bit (once) with King Arthur bread flour so have a bit of experience with it and can’t say that it was better or worse than the Robin Hood bread flour.