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Bread Flour brands - which is best?

  • k

For Christmas 2007, my husband bought me a Zojirushi mini bread machine. I find that I'm enjoying the bread made in it much better than store bought supermarket breads.

Since it's just the two of us, the 1 pound loaf is sufficient. I pretty much stick to basic white bread for sandwiches, but from time time, I make cinnamon raisin bread, potato bread and whole wheat using the King Arthur brand bread flour.

This past Sunday, I bought a 5 pound bag for $3.49. On Thursday, I went back to the same store for some other groceries and noticed that both the King Arthur Bread flour and Whole Wheat Bread flours had gone up in price to $4.99.

I'm wondering if any of the supermarket brands of bread flour (Gold Medal or Pillsbury) are any good. They are cheaper than the King Arthur flours, but will they still bake a good loaf of bread? Or should I just suck it up and stick with King Arthur?

I understand that there's a huge spike in flour prices now, but a $1.50 increase in four days for the King Arthur brand seems pretty steep.

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  1. Bread prices seem to have TRIPLED recently. I buy All Trump High Gluten bread flour at Costco. The price has gone from $6 and some change to $17 and some change. I don't know about one brand over another, but I do know that using bread flour in stead of AP makes a significant difference in the bread machine.

    1. I would guess, like you say (Gold Medal or Pillsbury) will give you a "good loaf" but I think King Arthur is still the way to go. I am not sure if the gluten content is the same but I would stay with what works and cut the $$$ on something else.

      1. King Arthur all-purpose flour has more gluten than most supermarket "bread flours." KA bread flour has even more gluten. To see the gluten content in the nutritional info on the bag, look at amount or percentage of protein.

        By the way, you can buy KA flour and other ingredients online and right now, if you spend at least $75 (you can share with some folks,) shipping is free. All of the regular KA flours (AP, bread, whole wheat, white whole wheat) cost $3.95 per 5-lb. bag. Their store also sells a wide range of baking utensils and ingredients. It's pretty easy to spend $75 there -- I've done it quite often (sigh.)

          1. I love King Arthur flours. Hard to justify the time it takes to make a good loaf of bread with flour that doesn't make the best bread possible. But now that you mention it, I should see how many additional quarters it costs per loaf.

            1. Kris, sometimes it is a little frustrating when members don't indicate where they are writing from. In the S.F. Bay area, for example, I could have told you to get Giusti's, which is available at bulk rates from the Food Mill in Oakland. In much of the midwest, Dakota Maid flours are available at much less than the expensive brands. But perhaps the best route to go is to find a wholesale baker's supply near you that will sell to the general public. Flour in fifty pound sacks is a lot less expensive than that packaged for sale in 5 or 10 lb bags. In our area (Balto/Wash) we have George Ruhl, which is also the oldest baker's supply on the East Coast. Unfortunately, the sudden rise in the cost of wheat is driven by increased transportation and petrochemical costs but also by the fact that shadow market investors have been speculating on the futures of agricultural products. And millions in less wealthy countries are starving. Anyhow, I often use Gold Medal when I don't have time to mill the flour myself. And provided I use a slow rise technique, the flavor is always very good. And with sourdough, I get exceptionally good bread.

              4 Replies
                1. re: Kris

                  Then another good flour choice for you is Heckers. That's another high-quality, relatively high gluten supermarket flour.

                  http://www.heckers-ceresota.com/index...

                2. re: Father Kitchen

                  Fr. Kitchen - I know you bake large amounts so buying the biggest size bag works for you. Do you know how long flour keeps? I can buy bulk from a local miller and it is economical but I'm reluctant to buy large amounts when it is on sale for fear of losing it to spoilage.

                  1. re: lupaglupa

                    We were low on flour and so I stopped at got a couple of bags of Gold Medal for our cook, who likes that brand. The label on it gave an expiration date of March 09. Whole wheat flours are different. The oil in them oxidizes and turns rancid quickly. So if you get whole wheat, freeze it. And you probably won't want to freeze a fifty pound bag of flour. 'Sides, it's fresher if you mill it yourself. And grain will keep for years--some say centuries. But fifty pounds of flour is really not all that much. At a typical hydration rate, you would get maybe 80 pounds of bread from it, if that is all you used it for, or a little over 50 loaves of bread. With a big family, that might go in a few months. For a family of two, it would take longer. Storage space might be a bigger issue than the keeping quality of the flour. Have you got a friend you can share a bag of flour with? When I was in San Jose, neighbors with 8 kids used to buy wholesale as the "Pleasant Hill Buying Club." Dealers thought it was a small cooperative. It became one when they included us in it. You don't need to be very big to do cooperative buying.