HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >

Discussion

Flour

Does anyone know really good brands of all purpose flour for baking? I hear that king arthur flour from usa is really good, but they don't sell it here. They do have a promotion for free shipping if you spend over $75, but that would mean an insane amount of flour or spluring on some fine-specialty-organic type flour. Inputs on cake flour is also appreciated! I usually just buy the no name brand for cake flour, but after a couple unsucessful attempts at cupcakes, I think it may have to do with the flour.. or maybe I should just go out and buy a scale..

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. With respect, there may be more than the quality of the flour blocking your way to successful baking. Avoid "no-name" cake and pastry" flour and get a good Canadian brand; generic A-P flour sold through NG stores has always worked for me, too. Yes, precise measurement can help, along with accurate oven temps best checked with a reliable thermometer(dialed-in 350 just might be 400 or more, sometimes less).Mail-ordering American flour in Canada strikes me as an unnecessary conceit.

    1. Use whatever flour you can find. There is so little difference between types of flour. Does someone think that "No Name" flour is actually made differently than all other brands of four?

      3 Replies
      1. re: CIRCLES_SQ

        I don't buy the hype about imported flours being axiomatically superior to what's available here. That said, some generic flours, especially cake&pastry from Loblaws/NoFrills, don't work like the standard branded stuff--YMMV but that's been my experience. Generic AP and unbleached AP work just fine for me. Too many other variables can screw up baking aside from flour!

        1. re: Kagemusha

          I never even considered the brand until reading cooks illustrated, plus with everything else we buy in this world, some brands do work better than others. Especially since I've just taken up baking as an interest, I was just hoping to get some pointers. Anyway, I guess I'll just have to do some trial and error, but will start with 5 roses since hoagy recommended it.

        2. re: CIRCLES_SQ

          No name flours are milled to the organizations' specifications. Often they are the same as a branded flour, but not always.There can be small but very significant differences. As well, the handling of the product at the mill and afterwards will affect your product. I don't believe in independently trucking flour across the border when someone else can do it for less and with less grief too! Canada is known for their wheat and flour superiority particularly for bread baking (hard wheat flours) so why should we be buying across the border? For general baking, I believe in the "use whatever flour you can find" philosophy. If you have problems check the variables like oven temp, ingredient temp, kitchen temp and TECHNIQUE. After that start researching, which is easily enough done using your local library or the web.
          Additionally, with respect, are you buying cake flour or AP? There is a difference between cake and pastry flour and straight cake flour - if you can find that any more. The only time I have gone to the agony of finding straight cake flour was for my mom's Angel cake. There was a distinct difference between Swan's Down cake flour and brand name cake and pastry flour when I made the cake.
          Finally, I would say that your problem is over mixing - it is usually the most common problem with muffins and cupcakes. I really don't think you need to fool around with different types of flour for cupcakes..............just a thought maybe you should just buy a smaller, fresher bag and check the way you store it? Anyway that's my two cents and good luck with your baking. If you are near Bloor and Islington, check out Organic Abundance they will get pretty much anything you want, just perhaps a larger quanitity than is ideal. They have been great to me.

        3. When I took an Artisinal Breadmaking course at George Brown the instructor recommended 5 Roses but I can't remember why.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hoagy294

            Five Roses mill in Canada closed 15 years ago, and the name was sold to Smuckers, so the flour can come from U.S. or Canada. Smuckers bought Robin Hood and Bicks in the same deal.

          2. I haven't found much of a difference, if any, between 5 Roses and Robin Hood brand flours for regular baking- at least their AP flour. However, I have purchased bulk flours from Noahs Natural Foods and there has been a noticeable difference in the usability. I've found that the bulk AP flour they have there tends to require more liquid and doesn't seem to sift as nicely as the branded stuff. These are, of course, purely observational, but for those reasons I tend to use Robin Hood for my unbleached AP and Pastry flour and then the bulk stuff from Noahs when I need/want whole wheat, oat, spelt, etc...

            I've also had success with equality brand but in all honesty the blue package irks me so I tend to avoid it :S
            I'd double check the oven temperature like Kagemusha suggested just as precaution. Mines runs ridiculously high and I often need to cut baking times by almost 1/2.

            Don't know if this helps at all and good luck with the baking! Just keep trying different brands until you find one that works for you.

            1. It is hard to believe no one has mentioned the Canadian equivalent of King Arthur, Arva Flour Mills

              http://www.arvaflourmills.com/Flours.htm

              Are they good? Do they deliver? Ask Marc Thuet what he uses.

              8 Replies
              1. re: jayt90

                Who gives a toss what Thuet uses--like he introduced baking to Canada? Arva's always struck me as a tourist trap that just happens to churn out flour.

                1. re: Kagemusha

                  They are open year round but not on Sundays. They have quality products at prices matching Costco, because they are a source. Is that touristy?

                  1. re: jayt90

                    It's just flour with no demonstrable superiority to what I buy at Loblaws a 5 minute walk away from my oven. Nice flour but not worth the gas to Arva from the GTA.

                  2. re: Kagemusha

                    It doesn't matter what type of four Marc uses, it's not what makes his bread, his bread. I know where Marc gets his flour from, but this is such a silly topic, any flour you buy in a grocery store will be fine for anything.

                      1. re: CIRCLES_SQ

                        There are dramatic differences in protein levels, additives, and usefulness of flours from brand to brand, and even from one area to another'. A baker requires full disclosure about a flour on the package or online, with information suitable to the Ontario market.

                    1. re: jayt90

                      I wish I knew about this place earlier because I go to London around this time every year, except this year! It looks like the ship, but I wonder if there are shipping costs?

                      1. re: jayt90

                        Have you tried getting the Arva flour through a local supplier, like an Organic food place? I doubt your local bulk barn will be able to do it because they don't control their purchasing. My local Organic store is sourcing New Life Mills in Hanover Ontario for me. The store always carries a certified organic product, but not always a particular brand due to market pressures, time of year and milling schedule for organic flour. another tip I read in a bread book somewhere is that you can buy "almost" organic flour - if you can get the product of the first batch of organic grains to be milled. I have forgotten what the name of this type of product is, but it consists of the first batch of organic grain through the mill. It is the batch that "cleans" out the machinery and therefore can be "contaminated" with non organic grain/flour. If you are not mad for organic, just a better flour, try for that. It is sold at a cheaper rate because it cannot be certified as 100% organic. This of course requires that it is from a smaller mill or one that cannot dedicate itself to organic grains. There are many good flour producers in Ontario and certainly in Canada. Some bakers (occasionally myself included) just like the cachet that OUR baking can only be accomplished with a particular flour. It's fun while it lasts, but we in Canada are blessed with an abundance of good grain/grain producers and mills. An hour on the web and on the phone should get you what you need without cross border shopping. Again good luckl

                      2. You might want to cross-post this on the Home Cooking board - to see if there are others who have ideas.

                        FWIW, I do think there's a difference in flours, and I'm in the states (but soon to be living in TO) and I use King Arthur over other brands here. I find that my results are more consistant and I like their whole wheat pastry flour a lot.

                        That said - for years and years I used whatever store brand I could find and I made lots of delicious things - just not *quite* as good. Definitely no failures - just more dense, not quite as fresh and tasty, etc. I think you might have another issues, as others have suggested . . . .

                        1. It depends on what you're baking. For bread, Five-Roses, Robin Hood AP flour but don't use Duncan Hines AP flour, I found Duncan Hines AP flour is a bit lower in gluten level. Or I just get bread-machine flour from Bulk Barns. For cakes, I just AP flour and they turn out fine, just don't over mix it.

                          1. Please keep the discussion here focused on where to find different types of flour in the Toronto area. Discussion of the merits of various flours and baking techniques should be saved for the Home Cooking board.

                            1. Hi
                              Without a doubt buying a scale is a good investment if you are even half-serious about your baking. A thermometer might also be a good investment both to check your oven and the temperature of your kitchen. My scale was expensive ($100, but my thermometer, a digital one, was about $12- I spent that much on my scale for a variety of reasons other than baking, but I digress). For general baking you should be fine with any no name or branded flour. If you are into artisanal bread baking, I suggest going organic and using spring water. This has given me the best success with the type of loaf I have been after. Finally there is a superb site for bread and other baking out of the U. S. called the Freshloaf. www.thefreshloaf.com; there is a connection to Ontario flour sources too which has been most helpful to me. Cheers and good luck

                              1. There is so much else going on with cupcakes that I really doubt your brand of flour is the problem. Oven temperature might be the problem, or over-mixing, or you may need a fresher supply of chemical leavener (baking powder/soda).

                                In my opinion, the best way to buy AP flour in Toronto is to look for the 10 kg bag of Robin Hood that No Frills, T & T, and some Loblaws carry (Costco too, I imagine). Other posters are right that for AP and bread flour there is really no point in buying from the US when a google search will reveal dozens of message board posts from Americans who have found that even within the same brand (like Robin Hood) the Canadian version is better.