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All Purpose Flour: Does Brand Really Matter?

A few times in the past year, I've been tempted to buy store brand ShopRite AP flour. On sale it is usually $1.88 for a 5lb. bag. I consider it for a few seconds, then I chicken out and buy some national brand like Gold Medal or Pillsbury, whichever is the most reasonably priced that week. When I bake with either national brand, I see no difference in results.

So, I am asking the home baker's out there, for basic home baking, does AP flour brand truly matter? When searching the 'net, regular home bakers seem to be very brand loyal and they swear by brands like King Arthur (usually the most expensive in the supermarket) or Gold Medal. Aren't milling processes fairly standard these days? Does brand matter for a commodity product like flour? Please explain why specifically, if you think brand matters.

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  1. Big discussion on a similar topic just last week. Maybe there is some information in this thread that might help you make a decision.

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/616426

    1 Reply
    1. re: smtucker

      Thanks--I saw that. I want to focus on brands in generally--not a particular brand. Plus I'd like to hear from someone who has used a store brand.

    2. Commodity product does not equal uniform production. There are many variables, as discussed in this decade-old CI article:

      http://tastetests.cooksillustrated.co...

      The recommendations are behind the firewall, but the two recommended brands were King Arthur (1st place) and Pillsbury (2d place).

      1. buy some of that shop-rite flour, and make some biscuits -- same with the gold medal. compare.

        (my mom is loyal to gold medal or white lily for biscuits...).

        2 Replies
        1. re: alkapal

          Well, biscuits would bias towards lower-protein flours (for which White Lily is the common standard), while other baking would bias towards higher-protein flours.

          1. re: Karl S

            ok, that is one example. make something else, ora, that you make often.

        2. I haven't bought generic flour recently. Live in NYC, usually buy Hecker's / Ceresota because it performs well in bread (the major part of my weekly baking) and fine in sweeter baked goods calling for AP. I don't like Pillsbury, it doesn't feel right to me. Occasionally use Gold Medal unbleached or Harvest Gold if Hecker's not to hand. King Arthur flour is also good but I find it expensive. I'll see if my market carries unbleached store brand and will give it a whirl for comparison's sake.

          1. I like King Arthur or Pillsbury for AP, but I refuse to buy anything but KA bread flour for machines. I like their Round Table pastry flour, but I will swap it with While Lilly AP in a pinch.