King Arthur Flour
I noticed that King Arthur Flour costs almost $9.00 for five pounds. Why? How is flour possibly worth that much money? It seems crazy enough that Gold Medal is up to nearly $4.00. Please, educate me.
Does that include shipping or something? Regular King Arthur AP flour is under $5 for 5 lbs at my local Kroger. KA Organic AP flour is probably close to $8 for 5lbs. Where are you shopping? $9 is really high.
I like the KA products, and can often find the flours on sale at the grocery store, for only a little more than Gold Medal. It's just a higher quality product, and I get better results in certain baked goods.
The difference in flour isn't necessarily the 'quality' but the level of gluten, and I think the... form of the gluten. Or the shape. Double zero has lots of gluten, making it perfect for pizza. Strong bread flour will also have more gluten, and make a tougher-to-work dough.
Aside from maybe organic flour, I doubt there's any difference in quality taste wise.
Premium flours (King Arthur, Gold Medal, Pillsbury, etc.) also offer tighter quality control, meaning that the baked result is going to be more consistent. This quality control is expensive because it also requires a more complicated supply chain, more storage, potentially higher transportation costs (if the "right" flour happens to be grown in another state...). more testing, etc. Off-brand flours can buy whatever wheat is cheapest, most readily available at a given point in time, and (presumably) closest to their mill. We forget that wheat is a natural product: Different strains, seasons (especially winter vs. summer wheat), strains (red vs. white), growing conditions, etc. will all have an effect.
How much this matters in any given recipe will vary. The only place I have consistently noticed a difference in in high-hydration breads, such as ciabatta. The premium flours yield consistently good results, while the off-brands don't. Also depends on how picky you are!
I am willing to pay extra because many of the baked goods I make are:
2) involve other expensive ingredients
3) are for serving to guests
4) involve high energy costs (having the oven on high for 2 hours)
I am generally not particularly interested in organic foods per se, but my favourite all purpose flour here in Canada is the President's Choice All-purpose Organic. Awesome stuff.
I agree with the others... the price where I shop is fairly consistent in the under $5 range at the 5 or 6 grocery stores I frequent.
Also, I think there was another link on CHOW about KAF lowering their prices to retailers after flour prices dropped again (after they went wayyyy up). Sadly, I think part of the problem is that people got used to paying high prices for flours and retailers never lowered the prices again.
However, prices on their website are consistently $4.95/5lbs for non-organic...
You're being screwed. The price did go up last year with the cost of oil and has not gone down since, but in San Francisco KA flour sells for $4/lb at Trader Joes, and just over $5/lb at most supermarkets. Gold Medal still sells for about $4 here.