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White Lily Self-Rising Flour

I finally got around to actually cooking a recipe from the Silver Spoon cookbook. I made the apple cake as I pre-testing possible Thanksgiving dishes early for a change this year. So the recipe calls for self-rising flour. I was excited to crack open a 5 lb bag of While Lily Flour that I purchased in VA at a Walmart recent (I'm in NYC). Well the recipe worked fine, in fact the cake look excatly like the picture in the book pretty much. I was proud of myself--until I tasted the cake. I tasted the batter and I detected a slight " off" taste, but I couldn't put my finger on it. The finished cake tasted distinctly "salty"--something like a salty biscuit flavor. It was terrible, but this slightly annoying off/salty flavor. I attribute the flavor to the flour--it has a relatively high salt content based on the package--which I read after the fact of course. We've concluded that we'll never use self-rising flour again in a sweet-ish baked good. But now I hesitate to use my formerly prized White Lily Self-rising flour for anything. Sadly, that Wal-Mart in VA didn't stock the regular White Lily.

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  1. I am not sure what your question is (or if it's more of a warning?), but White Lily has a guarantee. You should write or call them and complain.

    1 Reply
    1. Have you tried it in biscuits?

      What is the main difference between White Lily and a generic AP? Lower gluten, as in a blend of AP and cake flour?

      1. White Lily Self-Rising Flour contains 14% sodium ... some of that is salt.
        Most AP flour (at least the AP that I use) is 0% sodium of any variety(which means, if there is any at all, it's less than .05 grams)
        Their eb site:
        includes a statement "White Lily Self-Rising flour is blended with leavening and salt and is ideal for making light, flaky biscuits and pastries. You can also use self-rising flour for pancakes, muffins, waffles, coffee cakes and quick loaves." Operative word, "salt".
        Ain't no mention of any other variety of cake than "coffee cake". Not that I'd want that much sodium in my coffee cake.

        1 Reply
        1. re: todao

          Part of that sodium is in the baking soda - the rising part - but some is salt. So the use of salt in the rest of the recipe should be restrained.

        2. I would fault the cookbook - I don't do many cakes, but I can't imagine using SR flour for anything other than a coffeecake, or perhaps a cottage pudding. You need plenty of shortening in there to soften the alkaline harshness.

          I wouldn't complain to White Lily - I'd complain to the cookbook writer(s).

          4 Replies
          1. re: Will Owen

            I am thinking that since the Silver Spoon was an Italian translation, self-rising flour might taste different in Italy? Not sure. I've noticed the use of self-rising flour in a number of sweet recipes in European cookbooks--nedless to say I will use AP flour when this comes up. I do plan to try the White Lily with biscuits--but someting tells me I don't like the flavor of self-rising flour. I don't think there is anything wrong with the product per se.

            1. re: Ora

              The wiki article for flour gives these typical proportions for self rising flour:
              * 100 g flour
              * 3 g baking powder
              * 1 g or less salt (or a pinch to ½ teaspoon salt)
              So it is quite likely that the European/UK version has lower salt than the American White Lily. I think that upper limit of 1/2 tsp is per cup of flour.

              Did the OP's cake recipe call for any extra salt?

            2. re: Will Owen

              It's nothing fancy, and it's more savory than sweet, but I use a completely simple recipe for beer bread that is just beer, self-rising flour and sugar. (And butter to coat the pan and spread on top when it's baked.) Haven't tried the White Lily brand. Is it possible the original poster simply bought a bad batch?

            3. Well I use White Self Rising Flour all of the time as a coating for my chicken pieces after they have soaked in Buttermik and Hot sauce overnight...I spice up the self rising flour with garlic, salt, pepper, and a bit of cayeene, and shake it in a paper bag, then let the pieces dry out for about 20 minutes, then I pan fry it in an iron pan...not covering....It's always delicious...The flour can also be used for biscuits....Sorry that you recipe did not work out, but there are many delicious uses for self rising flour...

              1 Reply
              1. re: jinet12

                Interesting. Perhaps it works best in savory recipes??

              2. i use White Lily but NEVER use self rising. I prefer to add my own leavening and control the amount of salt going into what ever I am baking.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Candy

                  Yes, I've always baked that way as well, but Silver Spoon Apple Cake called for self rising flour, so I tried it. Didn't love it at all. What on earth am I going to do with that huge bag of flour...

                    1. re: Ora

                      I've never used it myself, but I think you should at least try a batch of biscuits.

                      1. re: paulj

                        Definitely make biscuits.


                        I've made them a couple times now with the White Lily self-rising flour (also purchased in VA and hauled back to NYC). This is the recipe I used:


                        1. re: MMRuth

                          What the heck, I might was well try biscuits. I've got a 5lb bag of the stuff (less 2 3/4 cups that I used for the Apple Cake).

                          1. re: Ora

                            I've made cakes with WL self-rising off and on through the years and have never noticed any odd flavors. Try a batch of biscuits or a simple coffeecake and see if you still don't like the taste.

                  1. Alas, White Lily Flour was bought by Smuckers recently and they changed it. According to an article in The New York Times, baked goods made with this new flour are inferior to those made with the legendary old flour that was milled in Tennessee. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/18/din... So White Lily is no longer the standard when it comes to Southern self-rising flour. It's a real shame.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Nancy Berry

                      The one I bought in VA was milled in TN, so Ora might want to check that. There are a couple of interesting threads on the General Topics board about the switch.

                      1. re: Nancy Berry

                        I think it is still milled in Tennessee, but in Memphis instead of Knoxville, and using flour grown just any old where instead of strictly regional. This proves to me once and for all that this "terroir" business is not in fact a bunch of hooey, but something we ignore to our disadvantage. Smuckers just killed the pup, as far as I'm concerned, and is on my s***list forever.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          It is no longer milled in Tennessee. According to the White Lily website, it's milled in Ohio.

                          1. re: Nancy Berry

                            The choice of wheat varieties is probably more important than milling location. Since wheat can be shipped by rail long distances (e.g. prairie states to the coast for overseas shipment), there's is no guarantee that flour milled in Tennessee comes from wheat grown in Tennessee.

                            I suppose at one time Lily did use locally grown wheat, or at least a blend that suited local tastes (softer than AP?). I wonder if the increase in corn acreage (as discussed in HFCS threads) has been at the expense of wheat in states like Tennessee.

                            1. re: Nancy Berry

                              Okay - last time I checked in with the ongoing White Lily saga, the word was that they were moving it to Memphis. What really matters is that they abandoned that fine old mill in Knoxville. That done, they could mill the stuff in China for all I care.

                        2. This is to follow up on my initial message. So, I made biscuits with the White Lily Self Rising flour, however I added 1/2 AP flour to my own concoted recipe as follows:
                          My Biscuits
                          Preheat oven to 450 deg.
                          Grease 9 inch pan with Veg Oil
                          1 cup WL self rising flour
                          1 cup AP flour
                          1/2 tbsp baking spoon
                          Cut in: 1/4 -- 1/3 stick butter
                          Mix in 1/2 Cup heavy cream & 1/4 Milk
                          Pat/roll out on a floured board
                          Use 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter
                          arrange biscuits in pan so that they are touching
                          Bake for 15 min or so until golden brown.
                          Makes 7-8 biscuits

                          These were delicious and the AP flour cut the strong flavor of the self rising flour. hey leftover freeze well too (not many!!)!