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Bread Flour in Larger Quantity?

When I lived in Ann Arbor, I was able to buy 25 pound bags of flour from the Zingerman's Bakehouse. The flour itself was a King Arthur product that just said "Special" on it.

Now in Northwest Indiana, I want to make a lot of bread for friends, but all I can find in bags larger than 5 lbs. is bleached and bromated flours. I've looked at Sam's Club and at Gordon Food Services here. They have plenty of big bags, but it's all bleached and bromated.

Any ideas about sources for great flour in bigger bags?

Also, does anyone know what the effects of pleaching and bromate are?

David

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  1. Do you have a restaurant supply grocery there? Here in the Northwest we have United Grocers and Cash and Carry. They cater to restaurants, but you are allowed to shop there without a membership or wholesale card. I buy 50# bags there. Also, Costco has it, I think theirs is 25#.

    I would also try contacting King Arthur Flour's customer service and asking them where you might get it. Our Safeway grocery uses King Arthur products in their bulk bins. Maybe you could special order a big bag through a grocery.

    1 Reply
    1. re: runwestierun

      "Maybe you could special order a big bag through a grocery."

      This is what I would do. People forget that grocery stores are run by people whose job it is to satisfy customers! :) Unfortunately many grocery stores have forgotten that too, but that's another topic for another day. I know Kroger (King Soopers, Ralph's, City Market, Smith's and some others are all the same company) will gladly do special orders, even if you aren't planning on buying a whole case of something -- they always have displays of leftover special-ordered stuff near the front.

      Theoretically any grocery store SHOULD be able to do this, but it seems like the smaller ones like Hy-Vee and Kroger --ones that still have actual human butchers and stuff, and who don't hire surly teenagers as grocery checkers -- are the most likely to have staff willing and able to oblige.

    2. Is there a health food co-op in your area? If so, you should be able to special order something from them in a 25 or 50 lb bag.

      1. You can get 10lb bags of King Arthurs unbleached flour at BJ's

        1. I have always found that Amish markets are a good source of large sacks of flour, since Amish women bake most of their own bread. I've gone to Amish country markets in several different states and always found a good selection of flour. My web search indicates that most of the Amish markets in Indiana seem to be either in the south (DePauw) or in the northeast in "Amish Territory" around Shipshewana. Still, it might be worth an outing for a couple of sacks. Do a google search for Yoder's. You'll be sure to turn up a place. Maybe by phoning them you can learn if there is a supplier closer to you.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Father Kitchen

            I live on the fringe of a large Amish community in NE Ohio and this is also the case here.

            I would however still try to contact King Arthur directly and see if they will see the food service bags of flour. You might also ask at a local grocery who has a in-house bakery if they will sell you a bag of flour.

            1. re: Father Kitchen

              Proved true here, too: on a drive to nearby (30 miles) Amish towns in Indiana, I found a large store that sells all kinds of things in bulk and in large quantity. Never saw so many varieties of popping corn in my life!

              I scored a 50lb bag of King Arthur Lancelot flour (their VERY high protein flour, even more than their bread flour) at a price that I forget, but it was astonishingly cheaper than ordering from King Arthur in those little 3lb bags, and shipping....

            2. I don't know if you're near Castleton, Indianapolis or Merrillville but each of those has a COSTCO and that's where I buy my bread flour. It isn't, as far as I know, a King Arthur product but it works just fine for my bread making.
              Pleaching is an art form involving shaping of trees and vines. Bromates are chemicals used to enrich flour by enhancing the development of gluten in bread (and other) dough.

              2 Replies
              1. re: todao

                Me thinks the OP meant "bleaching", not "pleaching"...

                1. re: runwestierun

                  Bromates are chemicals used to bleach flour. Bleaching strengthens the gluten, as todao has noted, but hard wheats grown in North America have such strong gluten that bleaching is not necessary. Its use here is purely aesthetic, to make white bread really white. Unfortunately, bleaching also destroys the beta carotenes, which has an adverse affect on the flavor and nutritional value of products made from bleached flour. Finally, bromates are outlawed in many countries as carcinogens. Most writers of bread cookbooks recommend unbleached flours.
                  If Bada Bing is looking specifically for the product of one mill or another, I would suggest writing or phoning that mill to ask who is the closest distributor or retailer of their flour in larger packages. Also, food stores that sell flour from bulk bins may be willing to sell a full sack of flour--it saves them work.

              2. I think the most common bread flour used out there is Gold Medal All Trumps, and it's unbleached. It comes in 25 and 50 lbs (and I think 100 too) and should be the easiest brand to find.

                1. Thanks for all the replies to my query here. I can report that my supermarket cannot order a larger King Arthur bag unless they, as a chain, order a pallet or so of them. I called King Arthur, and they referred me to distributors who service the bakery industry, but the nearest of those are 80-100 miles away, and I assume that they ould charge a lot to ship a single bag. My next step, I think should be to find out if any other flour mills or distributors deal in a comparable product. I guess I got spoiled getting flour effectively so chepaly from the Zingerman's bakehouse when I lived in Ann Arbor!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Bada Bing

                    I just checked www.newrinkelflour.com, shipping of a 25 pound bag of bread flour to Chicago was only $11.86 for a total of $30.98.

                    1. re: Bada Bing

                      I just wanted to say thanks! I just moved to Ann Arbor and I've been looking for a place to buy bulk bread flour. Looks like I'm headed to Zingerman's Bakehouse tomorrow morning.

                      1. re: iltasso

                        Ann Arbor is a great food place.

                        Last time I was there, passing through, I was delighted by this artisanal cured meats place, which opened after my time living there:

                        http://www.bier-camp.com/

                    2. I thought I'd update this (my own) query:

                      1. I found an artisanal baker about 30 miles away who says he'll sell me a 50# bag of bread flour for about $18, in keeping with what I used to pay at Zingerman's bakehouse (that got as low as $13 once, I think!). It's not King Arthur, but it's an unbleached and unbromated flour used by a serious bakery.

                      2. A local health food store bags their own quantities of bulk King Arthur flour, and they said they'd sell me a bag of King Arthur Special for $30 or so.

                      So I'm thinking I might try the bakery flour, just to test whether it turns out as well as the King Arthur. Of course, if it doesn't, I'm stuck with a lot of flour...

                      1. Look on King Arthur's website.

                        I can get 10 pound bags of KA bread flour in my local supermarket. But you could probably get larger ones by contacting them directly. They service bakeries and restaurants all over the place.