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What Is All-Purpose Flour Good For?

I used to disdain the differences between types of flours. But as I got more interested in good baking, and became more concerned about not wasting ingredients (=money), I am forced to admit that you do need to use the proper flour for different kinds of baking.

So, there is bread flour for bread baking. Pastry flour for pastry-making. Cake flour for cake-making. The great Shirley Corriher uses self-rising flour for biscuits. And so on.

What is AP flour good for? What's left? Thickening gravies, I guess, but does that justify buying a 5 pound bag?

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  1. AP flour is good for all the things you've listed. It may not be your specific preference, but it's a great 'go-to' for people who don't want to buy 10 different 5 pound bags of various flours.

    thickening agent
    coating for frying
    breads
    pasta
    pastries
    cakes...etc...you name it.

    1. I use AP for everything. I am an excellent baker and have been at it for 40 years. I cannot see enough difference between the performance of different protein levels in flour to justify owning all of them. I do see some difference with cake flour in cakes, but I don't like the flavor and texture of cakes made with cake flour. I make great, chewy bagels with AP. If I did large-scale artisan baking, I would differentiate - but I don't and I'm good with AP.

      1. I think the name 'all purpose' says it pretty plainly. I do think some AP flours are better than others (I really have come to like Robin Hood flour a lot) but every one I've used, for a variety of purposes, has done the job well. There may be certain things I'd want to use cake flour for if I can (my brownies, for one) but if I don't have cake flour on hand, I use the AP and it's not a big deal.

        The difference between AP and the specialty flours just isn't great enough to worry about.

        3 Replies
        1. re: The Professor

          I don't agree with you. I'm not here to get into arguments, but protein content is a huge deal in baking. In your opinion, it's not enough to worry about, but in my opinion, it's something to take into account.

          1. re: gothamette

            Take into account, yes. But I certainly don't stress over it.
            The Robin Hood AP flour I use seems to perform as well as any 'bread' flour I've tried. Maybe because it is 100% winter wheat, I don't know.
            In any case, I do keep a jar of wheat gluten handy in case I need to beef up the protein content for certain breads.

            1. re: The Professor

              In fact, DH sought out bread flour when we resurrected the old bread machine and for the first (and second) times, his bread didn't rise. At all. It never did that with the AP flour. He's now too disheartened to make more. I could never get my favorite recipe to rise nearly enough unless I added gluten to the mix.

        2. I'm firmly in the mindset of "it's not the instrument, it's the musician." I use all-purpose flour for just about everything. Nobody has ever spit out any of my creations and then questioned whether or not I used the correct flour. I get that there are advantages to it all, but don't personally think that it matters enough for me to have three, four, or five different flour jars.

          3 Replies
          1. re: GutGrease

            But different flours ARE different instruments. Protein content, type of wheat - different instruments.

            1. re: GutGrease

              As a violinist, i can say that is only true to a certain point. A crap instrument is really difficult to play. And there are subtle, but important differences, even in great instruments. Also, sometimes a wooden flute is preferred to a silver flute. When I rock out, I pick up my Zeta and plug it in (and turn it up to 11). Different instruments for different applications.

              1. re: wyogal

                +1
                I'm not a musician, but worked as an industrial (biomedical) photographer for 36 years and yes, it's the eye of the user but the instrument does make a difference.

            2. It's good for (wait for it now) ... all purposes!

              1. As a base for cake flour, self-rising flour, pastry flour, and bread flour. And for all other uses.

                http://www.joyofbaking.com/flour.html

                9 Replies
                1. re: viperlush

                  Thanks for the link. Those are huge weight differences. They make a big difference. Also the protein content makes a big difference.

                  IMO APF seems to be optimal for thickening but not much else. If you do a lot of cake-baking, use cake flour. Etc.

                  1. re: gothamette

                    In other words, you had your mind made up and you were waiting for somebody to give you the opportunity to diss APF.

                    APF, despite your "protein content" hangup, is usable for all purposes. I've even used it for biscuits, cut with a little cake flour to lighten it. If I'm making French bread, I'll add some wheat gluten.

                    1. re: jmckee

                      Yeah, right, you found me out. And I have a confession for you: I'm a secret agent for the League of Anti-All Purpose Flour Butt-Kicking Babes.

                      I won't rest until All Purpose Flour is a thing of the past. All-Purpose Flour is the cause of patriarchy, racism, and zits.

                      Seriously, folks, I just wanted to know what APF is good for. I could have phrased it better (see below) but I meant no offense!!

                    2. re: gothamette

                      I disagree. I do a lot of cake baking and only use cake flour for angel food cakes IF I happen to have some around the house, and if not, i use AP and the difference is barely discernable. In any other cake I don't even consider using cake flour. ( i do sift, however)Plus brownies, cookies, muffins, etc. use AP.

                      The only "specialty" flour I keep is low-protein, self-rising White Lily for biscuits. (note: i don't make bread)

                      1. re: danna

                        I agree--I use AP flour for heartier baked goods like brownies, cookies, muffins, etc. I rarely use cake flour for cakes unless I'm making something very light and airy. I much prefer pound cake made with AP flour. Pancakes and waffles, also. Some breads, like lighter sandwich breads and rolls are better w/ AP flour over bread flour. I also use AP for pie and tart crusts where I want some tooth to it but not too much to make it tough.

                        I need to check out White Lily flour. I've hesitated since I have so many different kinds of flour in the house but i'd love to lighten up my biscuits.

                        1. re: danna

                          One way to adjust for AP flour if the recipe calls for cake flour is to remove 1-2 tbsp per cup of flour. This is a pretty common substitution. You're taking out the protein content overall, so the cakes have a less structured form when you do this vs using a 1 for 1 substitution of AP for cake flour.
                          I use hard white/brown for breads, but not all breads. if it is a sweet bread or cinnamon buns I'll use AP as required.
                          I use AP for pretty much everything else.
                          Rarely use cake/pastry flour except for pie crusts.
                          No complaints from my eating friends yet!

                          1. re: freia

                            Aren't you supposed to also replace the removed flour with cornstarch?

                            1. re: will47

                              Not traditionally. I have heard of doing that in recent years, but it is not necessary.

                              1. re: will47

                                Nope, not necessary. I understand it may "alter" the proportions of solid to liquids but in reality, it really doesn't make a huge difference. Except the cake is more cakey than if you used 100 percent APF.

                      2. I use AP flour for cakes, muffins, and stuff where I don't want or need the gluten. I like bread flour for bread.
                        I bought a bag of self-rising flour once, made biscuits. They were amazing. But, that's the problem. I really shouldn't have amazing biscuits in the house. I don't care what PD says about "moderation," hard to do when they are so good! ha!
                        My favorite flour, though is Wheat Montana. They have several types. Prairie Gold is great.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: wyogal

                          Re: biscuits, I feel your pain. In fact, my question was spurred by learning about Shirley Corriher, food chemist extraordinaire, and her "Touch of Grace" biscuits, which are made w/self-rising flour. Which I had always been taught is kinda low-class. Well, if Shirley can use it, so can I. Disdaining SRF was stupid snobbism. But that opened a whole 'nother issue - if I use this flour for this purpose, I should consider using that flour for that purpose.

                          I agree with you about moderation, sometimes it's just better not to have the temptation around. PD? Paula Deen? Let's not talk about that here....

                          Thanks for the flour suggestions.

                          1. re: gothamette

                            The Touch of Grace recipe may call for self-rising flour, but that doesn't mean AP can't be substituted (with appropriate adjustments in baking powder and salt).

                            The reason self rising flour is popular for biscuits is that a couple of the popular Southern brands (Martha White and White Lily) used a softer local wheat, hence lower gluten and a more tender biscuit. National brands like General Mills were based in Minnesota, and used a harder western/midwestern wheat.

                            There is some variation in the gluten level among AP brands. King Arthur, for example, has a reputation for being higher than others. Canadian brands might also be at the high end.

                            1. re: paulj

                              If I try it I will use cake flour.

                              1. re: paulj

                                I've always heard that the softer wheat was the reason why White Lily and Martha White are often recommended for biscuits. But neither of those brands is necessarily self-rising. Just today I saw White Lily in the store, in both regular and self-rising versions. I wonder if the frequency of self-rising in biscuit recipes is just a matter of convenience--the ease of making biscuits without measuring flour, salt, and baking powder separately. Whereas cooks in other regions (less likely to make a lot of biscuits) wouldn't be as likely to keep such a specialized product on hand.

                                I certainly don't know the history of self-rising flour, but I'd hazard a guess that it was actually intended for biscuit making, and marketed for that purpose.

                                1. re: Cliocooks

                                  I am pretty sure that it was created and used mostly for biscuits. My mom's family ate biscuits every single day.

                                  1. re: Cliocooks

                                    Self rising flour was made for quick breads like biscuits, soda breads, beer breads, and corn breads; as well as sheet cakes, brownies, pancakes, dumplings, and other goodies like that. It can be used in a lot of different recipes.

                                    Self rising flour's usually nothing more than a premixed combination of AP flour, baking powder, and salt.

                            2. Gothamette, I would like to piggyback on your question:

                              AP flour can be used for almost anything, but, relative to Cake Flour for Cakes, Pastry Flour for Pastries, Bread flour for Bread, Double Zero flour for Pasta, etc. ...is AP flour *best* for anything?

                              For instance, you might tell someone to use their AP flour for bread-making had they attempted to use their Cake flour. AP flour would be better for bread than Cake Flour. But, it is unlikely to be better than Bread flour. So, is AP flour best for anything?

                              14 Replies
                              1. re: DougRisk

                                Some people prefer AP flour rather than bread flour because they want their bread soft and light rather than chewy. To get the desired texture, some prefer to mix AP and bread flour. For those uses, it's a bit like asking whether a dark or medium or light roast is the best coffee.

                                I have read some claims that all-purpose flour is preferable for making quick breads.

                                1. re: DougRisk

                                  I think that that is a reasonable re-wording of my question.

                                  1. re: DougRisk

                                    AP flour is best for dredging meat before browning. Bread flour is too heavy, biscuit flour is too soft, self-rising flour would be bizarre. But AP flour is just right.

                                    Do I win something?

                                    1. re: DougRisk

                                      off the top of my head: Parker house rolls, cinnamon rolls, potato rolls, most dinner rolls/sandwich breads, brioche, challah, chocolate chip cookies or any other cookies for the most part where you don't want a super light cookie and you want a chewy texture, brownies, blondies, muffins, quick breads, heavier cakes, egg pasta, pancakes, waffles, pie crust/tart crusts, shortbread/base for lemon bars

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        +1 to chowser.

                                        Cake flour = tender, low protein
                                        Bread flour = chewy, high protein
                                        AP flour = medium texture and protein. All the things chowser listed fall into this category.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          Chowser, I am really late to this party, but, if you happen upon this:

                                          I have a hard time understanding how AP flour would be better for Brioche and Challah. They are, basically, breads. You develop gluten and they are yeast based. However, I am not much of a baker, so I can not speak with real certainty.

                                          Also, I will definitely argue against the Pasta (Double Zero Durum Semolina), Pancakes (Pastry Flour) and Waffles (Pastry Flour), mainly from experience.

                                          The others, I can not address. The Parker House and Dinner rolls are interesting. They might very well do better with AP Flour.

                                          1. re: DougRisk

                                            Because of the type of breads they are--you don't want a chewy crispy crust and you want a softer interior that isn't as chewy as some artisnal breads. With most breads that have eggs, butter, milk, I go with lower protein flour--think of the texture of the breads and that will help decide what's the best flour for those purposes. For example, I use AP flour for cinnamon rolls because I don't want it to be really chewy. I think of brioche and challah more like parker house rolls, potato rolls, dinner rolls. There are recipes that call for bread flour for both. I just prefer AP for them. They are all breads; but all breads aren't the same. Once you start adding other ingredients that soften it, I go w/ AP.

                                            As pasta goes, I did specify egg pasta, not semolina which is a different product to me. As pancakes and waffles go, that depends on, I guess w/ everything, on taste. I don't want a very soft waffle or pancake, I want a little tooth in it--not enough to use bread flour.

                                            What do you use for cookies, brownies, quick breads, muffins?

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              Chowser, first off, I am impressed that you replied as quickly as you did to my 2 month late comment.

                                              "I think of brioche and challah more like parker house rolls, potato rolls, dinner rolls."

                                              I understand where you are coming from. I disagree, but I understand. For me, brioche and Challah are kneaded breads with really good richness. Viva la difference.

                                              However, though I have never made Parker House or dinner rolls, I am willing to believe that AP flour may be the best way to go.

                                              When you said egg pasta, well, I make all pasta with an egg, so I did not completely get the reference.

                                              "What do you use for cookies, brownies, quick breads, muffins?"

                                              Like I said before, I am not a baker. I have never made cookies or brownies. I have made muffins (and quick breads), and I use Pastry flour, but I am not about to enter them into any competition.

                                              1. re: DougRisk

                                                "For me, brioche and Challah are kneaded breads with really good richness. "

                                                It is enriched breads that are generally expected to be more tender, hence a lower-protein flour such as AP is appropriate. Yes, they are kneaded, but there is a good amount of protein in AP for things like challah and brioche.

                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                  I understand the logic behind it, but, I still disagree. One day, we will need to have some sort of tasting of various AP and Bread Flour Breads.

                                                  1. re: DougRisk

                                                    As I said, it is a personal thing--if you like your enriched breads w/ bread flour then no one can argue with it. My standard is Dorie Greenspan's brioche that melts in your mouth. It would lose that with bread flour. I like my ciabatta with more bite to it, hence bread flour. Some might prefer it like grocery store ciabatta so they'd be happier w/ AP flour for it.

                                                2. re: DougRisk

                                                  I'm on here far too often throughout the day (consequence of having down time in my job between clients). Parker house, potato rolls, etc. are also kneaded. In some sense, so are some biscuits so that's not the dividing line for me. As sandylc said, it's about enriched doughs vs non.

                                                  As egg pasta goes, I should have been more clear--I meant ones made w/ flour, not semolina and eggs. Fresh pasta sheets that melt in your mouth. However, as this discussion goes, it shows how much personal preference has to do w/ it--I like my muffins w/ AP for more toothiness than pastry flour. I love to bake and play w/ variations of flour. My favorite cookie recipe calls for a mix of bread flour and cake flour. Recently, I've started playing w/ different recipes, changing ratio of flours to see if I can get the cookie to do what I want--not just flour but all the other ingredients, including egg yolks only vs egg whites, making my own brown sugar. It's all a big chemistry experiment to me. What I've found is that some people love one type over another so there's no one "perfect' anything.

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    "What I've found is that some people love one type over another so there's no one "perfect' anything."

                                                    Absolutely.

                                                    Chowser, I am curious, after baking a batch of cookies, how many do you eat and how many to you give to family/friend/workplace/etc?

                                                    1. re: DougRisk

                                                      Hmm, probably one worth in cookie dough and then maybe 2-3 out of a batch over a couple of days. I actually rarely eat a whole cookie but will break pieces off during the day. I either freeze the dough, freeze the cookies (neither as much of a deterrent as you'd think because they're good frozen) or give them away to friends/family, although my kids are disappointed when I do. Given that I'm a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, it would probably be frowned upon if I gave them away at the workplace.:-)

                                        2. I don't know a single patisserie that uses pastry or cake flour over AP for the majority of their recipes. I add a ratio of wheat gluten to my AP for breads and it's a fraction of the price of buying bread flour specifically. Your argument about not wasting ingredients/money doesn't make a lot of sense. AP does it all for cheap, specific flours are more expensive and single purpose.

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: piano boy

                                            I don't frankly know the costs of the specialty flours, never having actually used them. I'll look them up and compare. I use Trader Joe's AP flour, which is real cheap at $3 per 5 pound bag. I add gluten (kind of expensive, forgot the price) for bread.

                                            But i still stand by my point about saving money. If using the specialty flour helps you make a superior product, that IMO is a savings.

                                            Which patisseries do you know of that use AP? This is interesting.

                                            1. re: gothamette

                                              Not sure I understand this logic.

                                              "I use Trader Joe's AP flour, which is real cheap at $3 per 5 pound bag. I add gluten (kind of expensive, forgot the price) for bread."

                                              " But i still stand by my point about saving money. If using the specialty flour helps you make a superior product, that IMO is a savings."

                                              So, you use the cheaper product and suppliment it with the needed ingredients to get what you want out of it (i.e. bread). Nothing wrong with that at all!
                                              It sounds contradictory regarding your statements about "savings".
                                              I would think that buying a cheaper flour and supplimenting it to your liking is a lot less expensive than buying a 5 lb bag of bread flour, self rising, etc. individually.

                                              1. re: Novelli

                                                @novelli, i'm musing about theory v. practice. so far, i've used AP. in future, i'll use the specialty flour. i think it will likely make a better product and avert disasters. =money savings. i've had a few disappointment, and i think it's due to the use of AP flour.

                                                1. re: gothamette

                                                  Addendum: Pillsbury Bread flour in my local grocery is $3.39 for a 5 pound bag. That compares quite favorably to King Arthur AP at same store nearly $6 per 5 pound bag. At those prices, if I bake a lot of bread, there's no point in buying the AP. I made comments about expense thinking that bread flour is an expensive specialty item, which it is not, or is no longer. (It used to be, I think.) Cake flour is still something of a rarity where I live.

                                                  1. re: gothamette

                                                    You're being severely overcharged for KAF. Here in Boston, a five-pound bag goes for a little over $4, and it goes on sale regularly (as in once every 4-6 weeks) for $2.50 to $2.99. I buy the 10 lb bag at BJs for $6.69.

                                                    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                      I was surprised to find KAF AP, bread, and whole wheat flours @ Market Basket. It's idiculously cheap.

                                                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                        That's what it goes for in Manhattan. Everything is marked up here severely. As for being "overcharged" - let's not get into a discussion about that concept. I believe that the merchants here, having to pay extremely high rents (and transportation costs), have to mark up. The reason why TJ's flour is so cheap (yes, even here in NYC) is because it's a national chain.

                                                    2. re: gothamette

                                                      It's called "all purpose flour" not "best for all purposes flour". It's all-purpose because it's pretty good for a lot of things, not because it's the best at a specific thing.

                                                      1. re: will47

                                                        what do you think would be better for cookies? muffins? pound cake?

                                                        1. re: danna

                                                          This goes unanswered, though it's been brought up repeatedly. Nothing is "best for all purposes." But AP is best for some purposes.

                                              2. This is a good article about flour comp:

                                                http://www.lallemand.com/BakerYeastNA...

                                                1. I don't bake much, so I mostly use flour to make bechamel sauce, pancakes, and pie crusts. AP works fine for that!

                                                  Cake flour does make a huge difference in cakes, and bread flour does make my bread better. But that's a lot of flours to have in the cupboard, so I just go with AP.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: caseyjo

                                                    Bread, cake and AP barely scratches the diversity surface. I have white whole wheat and white whole wheat pastry flour. I just finished off some rye flour, and barley. I've turned rolled oats into oat flour, and triticale flakes into a semi-rye flour. I'm getting down on cornmeal (of various grinds). For a pumpkin bread I like to use almond meal and oat bran along with the wheat.

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      Well, now that's a whole new ball of wax. We have a flour mill and we grind our own whole wheat and rye flours. We buy other specialty grain flours such as rice, oat, etc. Here is where the flavor an interesting things to make come into play.

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        Ah, see I also think of things like corn flour, whole wheat flour, and the like as completely different beasts. I always have to have coarse cornmeal for polenta, and fine cornmeal for cornbreads and muffins. Sometimes I keep semolina around as well.

                                                    2. I don't pretend to understand how protein or gluten affect baked goods -- in fact, I hardly ever bake -- but this much I can tell you: AP flour makes one heck of a popover! I'd never use anything else.

                                                      28 Replies
                                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                                        Just so. You cannot make good popovers with bread flour OR cake flour. Same with pancakes, waffles, cornbread, muffins or other quick breads. Flour tortillas made from bread flour can be used in track and field events, flour tortillas made from cake flour don't even make it to the comal because they fall apart in the pressing. There are plenty of applications for which AP flour is the ideal.

                                                        1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                          Am I missing something here? Flour tortillas aren't pressed, they are rolled.....?

                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                            They are pressed in a tortilla press. Usually. Unless one is talented with a rolling pin. But, presses are quite common.

                                                            1. re: wyogal

                                                              No, CORN tortillas are pressed. FLOUR tortillas are rolled.

                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                O.K.

                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                  Hi, veteran tortilla maker here, both flour and corn. The way I was taught was that they're pressed, and then either rolled or not depending on how thin you want them. Some applications you want them thinner/larger than you get in a press, some you don't. But even then, starting from pressed makes it easier to keep them properly round.

                                                                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                    I understand and this looks like a good idea for keeping them round. Not traditional, tho....

                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                      You got your traditions, I got mine. This is the way my then-girlfriend's abuelita taught me how to make flour tortillas. The only difference is that I don't use an empty wine bottle to roll 'em!

                                                                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                        Then it's O.K. if I try your method? :-)

                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                          Knock yerself out!

                                                              2. re: sandylc

                                                                They are pressed, regardless of whether you use a rolling pin or hinged press.

                                                                Indians use atta flour for their flat bread. I believe that's a pretty hard wheat, though wholemeal

                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                  Nope. Flours are rolled. Corns are pressed.

                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                    I mean that rolling in effect presses the dough. There is some more stretching than with a hinged press.

                                                                    The corn dough does not handle that stretching as well as a flour based one, hence the common use of a press. The more traditional method is to pat the dough back and forth between your hands.

                                                                    Flour could also be pressed, but then you are limited in size.

                                                                    The choice of method has to do with what works best. It's not a matter of definition.

                                                                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUvp6E... hand flattened corn tortillas

                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                      I'm no expert on tortillas, but it would stand to reason that corn dough doesn't stretch, as it has no gluten. I suppose experts can pat it real thin, because they are, well, experts.

                                                                      1. re: gothamette

                                                                        when I stayed with a family on the Mexican side of the border many years ago, corn tortillas were bought from a neighborhood store for the noon time meal, while flour ones where made at home for supper. The whole process of making corn tortillas is more involved, requiring more expertise and time.

                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                          I remember reading in one of Diana Kennedy's books about a tradition Wheat-based Flour "tortilla" that is made in the north of Mexico. As she described it (and later finding a few videos on the web) it did not look much like a traditional tortilla. It seemed much closer to a cross between Crepes and Phyllo (Filo) pastry. Very thin.

                                                                          I just wish I could remember what they were called.

                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                            This is not the video that I had initially referenced, but, here is a good example of what I was talking about:

                                                                            They are often referred to, simply, as Tortilla de Harina (i..e Flour Tortilla). In this video, they are referred to as Tortilla de Mundo...I am guessing because of their size.

                                                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3w4C8...

                                                                            Actually, I just did a little more research and these specific Tortillas de Harina are often referred to as Torillas de Aqua.

                                                                            1. re: DougRisk

                                                                              The way she's stretching the dough reminds me of pizza dough spinning. Filo and strudel dough can also be hand stretched.

                                                                              The video that comes up after is an ad for a heated tortilla press, used to press and cook the flour tortillas in one pass.

                                                                              1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                Awesome technique. Now....I wonder how much gluten is in that dough? It matters.

                                                                                1. re: gothamette

                                                                                  Or it could be that the fat (lard) content is on the high side for tortilla dough. It makes the dough more pliable.

                                                                                2. re: DougRisk

                                                                                  This guy (in India?) is making 'blankets'
                                                                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&amp...

                                                                      2. re: sandylc

                                                                        Pressing is predominant, a lot of folks roll at first and finish pressing. The old-school Mexican way is pressed, period.

                                                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                                                          Corn are pressed. Flour are rolled.

                                                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                                                            Traditionally. In Mexico. Not the thick Texas flour ones.

                                                                            http://www.squidoo.com/tortilla-making

                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                              Well, i've watched them pat out the flour tortillas at local tortillerias, some do and some don't. Most I've seen use their hands and/or a press if they're the small flour tortillas.

                                                                      3. re: CindyJ

                                                                        Popover batter is similar to crepe batter, and has a low flour to egg and liquid ratio. Flour helps stabilize the batter (so it isn't just an egg custard), but you don't want much gluten development. So AP might well have the right gluten proportion. Buckwheat crepes tend to be more fragile than ones using straight white flour

                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                          buckwheat isn't a grain at all.

                                                                        2. re: CindyJ

                                                                          The gluten is what makes certain breads "stretchy" - kneading develops the gluten strands, which creates the structure of the bread. If you make a ball of dough with different flours, and run them under water, you'll be left with a different amount of gluten.

                                                                        3. As a general rule, I tend to use what the recipe calls for, on the assumption that it was tested with a particular flour, and especially if the writer explains why a particular type is called for. I certainly woudn't assume that every cake recipe is designed for cake flour. Of course I will cautiously substitute if I'm out of something, or if I'm consciously trying to change how a recipe turns out. I

                                                                          1. I never realized how much flour/gluten content made a difference until my bread-baking mother in law left a mostly full 5 lb bag of King Arthur bread flour at my house. To use it up, the next time I made pizza dough I made it with half AP and half bread flour. Wow. HUGE difference. The crust was more tender, better chew to it...I will never make pizza dough with AP flour only again.

                                                                            King Arthur AP is my go-to flour for the usual stuff: baked goods, cakes, dredging, roux making, etc. However, I always have bread, cake, and whole wheat flours on hand as well.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: mels

                                                                              I am confused. Adding bread flour to AP should not make a dough more tender - it should make it more chewy. That said, King Arthur AP does have a higher protein content than most other AP flours.

                                                                            2. I keep 3 regular flours - King Arthur AP, King Arthur Bread flour, and White Lily. I buy one box of cake flour every year, for one cake that I have found really does benefit from whatever is in cake flour that I don't get with AP + corn starch. I use ap for everything from pasta to quick breads to every day breading, etc. I use bread flour when I want dense, chewy bread. I use White Lily for biscuits. I sometimes do white wheat, rye, etc., but I don't keep them on hand.

                                                                              1. It's good for having fresh flour all the time for things that are OK with it. I don't have infinite storage space in my freezer to keep a dozen flours fresh. I'd much rather have fresh AP flour in my cake/pastry/bread than stale "correct" flour.

                                                                                And I'd stack my AP flour biscuits, pie crusts, cakes, pie crusts, and cookies against most home bakers out there. They're, as we call them, "rustic", since I don't go in for fussy presentation for homemade food, even if it can be fun in restaurants. (Yeast breads I do think one gets a better result with bread flour, but I pretty much never make them.)

                                                                                And I thicken gravy with cornstarch, usually.

                                                                                1. What's left?

                                                                                  Cookies, quick breads, dinner rolls (enriched doughs) and anything that calls out bread flour or pastry flour. I've found the differences in flours to be subtle and not really a big factor.

                                                                                  However, for lean doughs, I do stick with bread flour.

                                                                                  1. I would hazard a guess that a lot of those who feel that AP is 'good enough' for everything wouldn't appreciate or realize the differences between different flours when tasted anyways.

                                                                                    I use KA Unbleached White Whole Wheat for everything - breads, breading, roux, etc. It's easier for me, and my baking skills are still developing, and this is as "AP" as I'll go. I do realize that my crusts could be better, my cakes finer, if I used a different flour, but until I master the baking skills I aspire to, I'll keep with the one type of flour. Plus I lost my job and we're beyond broke, no no extras in our grocery bill.

                                                                                    Just my .02.

                                                                                    19 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: JReichert

                                                                                      This post confuses me. First you call those of us who prefer AP palate-challenged (btw, read the thread...people aren't saying AP is "good enough" they're saying is preferable.) Second, you mention being on a budget, but isn't KA quite expensive compared to other flours?

                                                                                      1. re: danna

                                                                                        Yup, I do appreciate someone w/"still developing" baking skills guessing about the palates of those who have responded to the OP. But, in their defense the price of KAF depends on where you live. I have bought KAF (AP and bread) for as little as $2 for a 5lb bag. And their only option for AP WWW might be the KAF which.

                                                                                        Thought this thread might be helpful:
                                                                                        Is KAF worth the prices?
                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/811923

                                                                                        1. re: viperlush

                                                                                          KAF is about twice the price of regular flour in my area but it's the only white whole wheat. I wouldn't start w/ www as a beginning baker, though--you don't get the same results when you substitute it for white flour, unbleached or bleached and need to adjust for it.

                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                            Do you have a Trader Joe's near you? They sell a white whole wheat, much cheaper than KA's.

                                                                                            1. re: gothamette

                                                                                              Sounds like KA flour varies widely in price, depending on how close you are to New England. TJ used to carry KA flour, but now sells both unbleached white and white wheat with their own label. Their price is probably more uniform around the country, $3/5lb.

                                                                                              There are other brands of white wheat flour, both in bulk sections of some groceries and health food stores. Bobs Red Mill (an Oregon based distributor of grains and flours) sells a whole wheat pastry flour made a soft white wheat. I've been using that for biscuits, usually along with coarse oat flour.

                                                                                              It's worth keeping in mind that with stone grinding, the whole berry is ground. In the past, this was then sifted, separating the softer white part from the harder germ and bran that did not grind as fine. The wealthy could afford the well sifted flour, and eat a relatively light bread, while the poor ate a heavy coarse bread made from unsifted bran heavy flour. The heaviest bread was used as plates (trenchers), which were given to beggers after the meal. That poor persons flour could also contain grinding stone grit and impurities.

                                                                                              With modern steel roller mills, it is possible to separate the bran and germ from the endosperm during grinding. This increases the yield of white flour, and droppes its cost. So now, white bread is the cheap stuff, and whole wheat more expensive. Some whole wheat flour is the result of adding coarsely ground bran to white flour (just as some brown sugar is white with added molasses).

                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                I remember reading a book many years ago (fiction), where the wealthy were small and sick, and had bad skin, and died early. The peasants ate peasant food: Fruits, vegetables, coarse whole grains, etc. These peasants were taller and lived longer than the wealthy....who, by the way, also had lead poisoning from their makeup! Cute moral-of-the-story book.

                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                  Supersizers Go ... on Cooking Channel is an interesting exploration of food in previous historical periods. The latest episode focused on Roman, in Rome, Egypt and Britania. They didn't much to, though, about the lead in diet of upper class Romans (from pipes, cups, and a wine sweetener).

                                                                                                  More on the possible connection between lead and the ills of Roman society
                                                                                                  http://ces3.ca.uky.edu/energy/lead/ro...

                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                    actually the lead was in the makeup.......great show, though!

                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22546056/...
                                                                                                      while the Romans got lead poisoning from a variety of sources (water food and cosmetics), lead in cosmetics was particularly common in the 'white lead' Elizabethan era.

                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                        amazing, isn't it?

                                                                                                  2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                    http://recipewise.co.uk/manchet-bread...
                                                                                                    is an article about Manchet, the upper class bread of Tudor days, "made with double boulted (sieved through a cloth) stoneground wheat"

                                                                                                2. re: gothamette

                                                                                                  Good to know--I'll check it out. Thanks!

                                                                                            2. re: danna

                                                                                              Good food is only 'expensive' when compared to bad foods. Bleached flour is cheap - both nutritionally and money-wise. That makes flour with real nutritional value seem 'expensive'. I eat less of 'real' food than I ever did of 'junk' food - being nutritionally dense, I don't need as much. Same with my breads. So I don't spend more in the long run.

                                                                                              All I am saying is that I am supposing that many who use an AP flour (traditionally bleached) don't care about the subtleties in the differences between different flours. I was that way before I learned about nutrition, and I've seen it in others.

                                                                                              1. re: JReichert

                                                                                                You can buy AP unbleached flour. It might not be whole grain but you get better results with many baked products. It's a give and take as health goes but since I don't indulge that often in baked sweets, I go with what tastes best. It doesn't matter to me if I get some fiber and endosperm in an occasional chocolate chip cookie. I care about the subtleties of different types of flour in terms of protein content and how it affects the taste of the final product, and I'm sure danna does, too.

                                                                                                1. re: JReichert

                                                                                                  What exactly is the difference in nutritional content of bleached and unbleached white flour? From what I've read, chemical bleaching just accelerates the natural bleaching that occurs when flour is left to sit for several months.

                                                                                                  Or are you confusing bleaching with the distinction between white and whole wheat flour?

                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                    Aside from the loss of Vitamin E, the agents used to bleach the grain have been banned in Europe and Australia (or were the last time I checked.) Peroxides and dioxides are not something meant to be consumed and have some serious repercussions. The only reason they ever bleached flour in the first place was to make it instantly whiter - and thus, 'cleaner' in the eyes of consumers.

                                                                                                    Sugar is a huge problem in American society and bleached, stripped flours are no longer a slower-burning carbohydrate, like their whole siblings.

                                                                                                    1. re: JReichert

                                                                                                      You probably understand this...but just to make sure...you do realize that unbleached and whole wheat are not the same thing, right? Just because a flour is unbeached, doesn't make it whole wheat. Whole wheat may be a "slower-burning carb" as you put it, but regular flour has already lost most of its nutrional value, even if it's still unbleached. IMO, the reason one wants unbleached flour is to avoid the chlorine and/or other chemicals used in the bleaching process.

                                                                                              2. re: JReichert

                                                                                                I have never heard the phrase UNBLEACHED white whole wheat. Of course it is unbleached. Unbleached is not a designation used for whole wheat flours. Also, this thread isn't about whole wheat flours.

                                                                                                That said, if you are a beginning baker having good results with whole wheat, my hat is off to you - good job!

                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                  That's what I was thinking, too, about using whole wheat flour as a starter flour. It wasn't until I read King Arthur's whole grain cookbook that I started getting a good feel for it, and even then, I'm happier with my unbleached AP flour. If it's something I'm having often, I consider how healthful it is. If it's a treat, I don't care. Bring on the bacon!

                                                                                              3. Also, I won't touch bleached flour with a 10-foot pole. Not only is it trash nutritionally, but it gives me heartburn. So only unbleached, preferably whole grain for me.

                                                                                                14 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: JReichert

                                                                                                  There is no good reason to ever bleach flour.

                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                    I'm confused as to why bleaching has come up. The OP asked about AP flour. AP flour is available unbleached. That's what I buy for general use.

                                                                                                    1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                                                      I was responding to JReichert's post where "unbleached white whole wheat" flour was mentioned. This was strange, as whole wheat is never bleached or referred to as unbleached...and off danced the thread!

                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                        I was just giving the whole proper name, as stated on the King Arthur bag.

                                                                                                        1. re: JReichert

                                                                                                          I looked that up! They actually say that on the bag! Wow. Marketing BS, no doubt. Sort of like, uh, fat-free salt or something! My apologies to you, JReichert!

                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                            Yeah, my thoughts too. I supposed they distinguished it because you can always count on people who are super literal and would call them up, "Well, but, it doesn't say unbleached, how do I know if it's unbleached??" : )

                                                                                                            1. re: JReichert

                                                                                                              I think probably they say "unbleached white whole wheat" so that people won't think that it's regular whole wheat that's been artificially whitened. As I understand it, white whole wheat is made from a different wheat, and that's why it differs from what we (in North America) think of as "normal" whole wheat flour. So yes, kind of like "fat free salt," but not quite so cynically market-driven.

                                                                                                              Now that I think of it, they should really call it "whole white wheat."

                                                                                                              1. re: Cliocooks

                                                                                                                I think that you are probably spot-on.

                                                                                                    2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                      Depends on the result you want with white white cakes or white white breads. That's pretty much the only reason I think.

                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                        In what capacity are you making that blanket statement?

                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                          -The nutritional content is supposedly the same (see the last point) between bleached and unbleached.
                                                                                                          -Unbleached flour bleaches naturally anyway with the aging process that it is put through during production.
                                                                                                          -Chlorine bleach is added to bleached flour to speed up what would happen naturally - I don't want this in my food, do you?
                                                                                                          -The bleach lowers the protein content of flour very slightly.

                                                                                                          paulj, I sense from this and other posts that you are a science-oriented person. This is good. I enjoy learning from people like you. I am pretty smart, read a lot, and am "well-aged". I, too, like to question things. The capacity from which I am making the "don't bleach my flour"-type statement is from 40+ years of baking and studying/reading about baking.

                                                                                                          It's O.K. if folks disagree. The slightly higher protein content of unbleached flour vs. bleached isn't enough IMHO to warrant eating bleach.

                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                            I don't usually buy bleached flour, having absorbed without questioning the 'unbleached flour' specification of 'gourmet cooks' over many years. However most cake flour (e.g. Swans) is bleached, as is southern style biscuit flour. I also have some Wondra, which I've started to use as a thickener (it can be used in slurry form like cornstarch).

                                                                                                            The Wondra box has a recipe for popovers. I wonder if works better for that and crepes. Not that I'm bothered with how crepes and dutch babies turnout with regular AP.

                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                              I come from a southern family and use regular unbleached flour in biscuits and cakes without any problems. I understand why people use the bleached and/or cake and/or Wondra flours; I just don't personally see the need at this time for me. Happy baking, paulj!

                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                Years ago I had a yorkshire pudding recipe that called for Wondra. Can't remember quite where I got it. I think it might have been from one of Sara Moulton's shows on the food network. I don't think it was her recipe--maybe someone she had as a guest on the show.

                                                                                                                KAF has an unbleached cake flour, by the way.

                                                                                                      2. The types of flour that you listed are differentiated by protein content. The name that one gives is mostly for marketing. Cake flour results in a fine crumb which might not be the desirable result if one is baking a pound cake. Flour with a higher protein content such as all-purpose flour results in coarser crumb that one associates with pound cakes as well as many other such as genoise, bundt, butter cakes.
                                                                                                        All-purpose flour is still the "go to" type in most cookbooks and baking books. Substituting a different flour will not yield the same result.

                                                                                                        1. What are the differences between these three different kinds of flour (bread, cake, pastry)?

                                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: claritas

                                                                                                            If you read through the thread, you'll find out. Basically, the flours have different levels of protein which affects the product. Some work better for chewy, some work better for tender.....

                                                                                                            1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                              Ah, thanks.

                                                                                                            2. re: claritas

                                                                                                              What's been posted does NOT really describe the differences between flour types. It isn't all about the protein content.

                                                                                                              Cake flour: Very finely milled, low protein, bleached with a chlorine process.

                                                                                                              WHY: The fine milling (and usually extra sifting after milling as well) gives a silky, soft flour almost like cornstarch or xxx sugar in texture. This allows for a very fine, light, airy crumb. Remember that cake batters are a FOAM - the finer and lighter the flour particles, the foamier the foam can be. However a foam is structurally weak and delicate, bringing us to:

                                                                                                              Why chlorine? Because low protein flours absorb significantly less water than high protein flours. When a flour is bleached with chlorine, the chlorine acts as BOTH a bleach AND a maturing agent - one that REDUCES gluten formation (by contrast, potassium bromate is a maturing agent but not a bleach which STRENGTHENS gluten formation). Reduced gluten formation is great for cookies, cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, terrible for bread. What chlorine gets you in addition to the whitening of the flour that another bleaching agent like benzoyl peroxide does not get you is that it breaks up the starches in the flour, enabling them to absorb more water. This allows for thicker batters and firmer doughs than if the same flour were not chlorinated. The ability to absorb more water makes that foam structure stronger in cakes (has a similar action in biscuit dough, etc). Starches absorb the water and swell, making the batter stronger and better able to "trap" air bubbles in your batter and less likely that those cell walls will collapse during baking and leave you with a sad sunken cake.

                                                                                                              PASTRY FLOUR
                                                                                                              More finely milled than AP flour, not so finely milled as cake flour. It's a refined flour in that it's had the bran sifted out. Lower protein flours are used. Usually around 9% protein (around 8% to 10%). I have never seen bleached pastry flour - it may exist, but I've never seen it. Graham flour is basically whole wheat pastry flour. Graham flour is a actually a little more complicated than that, but most of the flours currently being sold as graham flour are just ww pastry flour.

                                                                                                              BISCUIT/SOUTHERN flours
                                                                                                              These would be like White Lily and Martha White, etc. Traditionally - and White Lily is the only one I KNOW for sure this still applies to, it's my understanding that Martha White is not much different from AP flour these days - this is a very finely milled flour, repeatedly sifted after milling, somewhere between AP flour and cake flour in particle size. It is bleached using chlorine for the same reasons given above for cake flour - basically to weaken gluten and increase the absorptive capabilities of the starches in the flour, as well as to whiten. It's for biscuits, cakes, cookies, pie crust. Low protein flour. White Lily is still 100% soft winter wheat; Martha White is a blend of soft and hard wheats, as most AP flour (except Pillsbury and King Arthur) usually are. If you want a traditional Southern biscuit flour, White Lily is still the go-to brand, given a choice between that and Martha White. I don't know about other brands of Southern biscuit flour. It does come in both self-rising and "regular", I would buy the regular. Gives me total control over the type, amount, and freshness of whatever leavener I choose to use.

                                                                                                              AP FLOUR: Jack of all trades. If it's bleached, it's bleached using benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide is ONLY a bleaching agent; it is not a maturing agent. SO the gluten forming characteristics of AP flour are not changed from whatever the wheat used to mill the flour brings to the table.

                                                                                                              Gold medal AP flour ranges from 9.8% to 12% protein and is a blend of all 4 basic wheat types: hard winter, soft winter, hard spring, soft spring. It's not very consistent from batch to batch or from region to region.

                                                                                                              Pillsbury AP flour, by contrast, is 10.5% protein (unknown tolerance, I'm still trying to find that out) and is milled from 100% soft red winter wheat. If I'm going to use an AP flour (good for heavier cakes such as pound cakes, brownies, pie crusts, etc) I buy the Pillsbury because it's more consistent. House brands of flour (generics) vary so much I don't bother with them. Plus, grocery stores tend to switch suppliers and the flour coming out of a different mill may be totally different with no change in label.

                                                                                                              BREAD FLOUR 11.5%ish up to about 13%ish, milled from soft and/or hard winter wheats. Sometimes bleached or has a maturing agent added, sometimes not. The most common maturing agent is potassium bromate, but that is used exclusively in commercial flours (25, 50lb, 100lb bags packaged for commercial bakeries) these days. If it is bleached, and if it is a consumer packaging, they will most likely have used a peroxidation process. Bread flour is NEVER bleached with chlorine.

                                                                                                              King Arthur All Purpose flour really falls under this category, even though it's called "AP". It is 11.7% protein and varies only 0.02%, so it will never be less than 11.68% protein. It has no bleaching or maturing agents added. It is milled from 100% hard red winter wheat. Hard red winter wheat is not as high protein as hard red spring wheat, but the proportion of gliadin to glutenin gives it more loft (gliadin contributes to extensibility, eg how much the dough can rise and stretch without breaking the gluten strands, whereas glutenin contributes to elasticity, or how well gluten recovers from being stretched - too much glutenin will make the dough "snap back" when stretched, something you see with pizza doughs made from very high protein flours. To simplify, glutenin is responsible for "chew" and gliadin is responsible for loft./rise.)

                                                                                                              AP flour such as Gold Medal sometimes falls in this range, but you can never tell before buying whether you're getting something below 10% protein or nearing 12%. I had trouble making bread for years, until I stopped trying to use AP flour, because of this variation. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it would be a soupy mess that I'd have to add flour to, then it would be dense and wouldn't rise properly. That's what happens when you try to make bread from a low protein flour.

                                                                                                              Gold Medal does make a bread flour that is rated at 11.7% to 12.3% which is a blend of hard winter and hard spring wheats. I wouldn't touch Gold Medal AP flour with a ten foot pole, but this is actually not a bad bread flour. The blend of hard winter and spring wheats gives you a nice balance between loft and chew. You might think of this as the AP of bread flours, LOL! It is bleached, via peroxidation.

                                                                                                              Pillsbury makes a bread flour nominally rated at 12% protein (no range given) that is milled from 100% hard spring wheat. Very acceptable, very consistent. It is unclear whether or not this flour is bleached; the label does not specify (as it does for all other Pillsbury flours) and calling the hotline twice got me 2 different answers.

                                                                                                              King Arthur makes a flour labeled "Bread Flour" in addition to their "AP" flour which comes in at 12.7% protein, which makes for a chewier loaf, good for things like pizza crust, bagels, pretzels, etc, when you want a bit more chew to your end product. It is milled from 100% hard red spring wheat.

                                                                                                              The bulk bagged flours in Sam's and Costcos come out of ConAgra mills. These flours vary depending on where they were milled (ConAgra has mills all over the country). To find out what the characteristics of these flours are you would need to call ConAgra, tell them where you are in the country, and ask. In my area - SE US, from at least NC all the way south and I'm not sure how far west - these flours come out of the Decatur, AL mills and the "AP" flour is 9.2% protein while the "bread" flour is 11.6% protein. Last time I bought these from my local Costco, they were still bromated, but all the flour ConAgra mills for Sam's and Costco is now treated with benzoyl peroxide only. If a flour is bromated, potassium bromate will be listed in the ingredient list, so it's easy to check.

                                                                                                              "Bleached" flour is rarely treated with chlorine gas anymore. The only flours I've been able to identify that are so treated are cake flours and some Southern Biscuit flours. I have not found any retail flour available nationally that has been bleached with anything other than benzoyl peroxide.

                                                                                                              There are also "high gluten" flours in the range of 13% to 14% protein but they are very specialized flours that I personally have never had a use for.

                                                                                                              Final tidbit: There is a difference between a bleach and a maturing agent. A bleaching agent whitens the flour, while a maturing agent modifies the gluten formation properties of the flour. The most commonly used additives to flour for bleaching/maturing are :

                                                                                                              Potassium bromate: Maturing Agent: Strengthens gluten: not found in retail flours anymore, still in many commercial bulk bagged flours. Will be listed in the ingredient list (potassium bromate) if present

                                                                                                              Chlorine gas: Bleaching agent AND Maturing agent: weakens gluten, modifies starches to increase absoprtion. Only found in cake flours and at least some southern "biscuit" type flours (eg White Lily)

                                                                                                              Benzoyl peroxide: Bleaching agent only. This is what is used to whiten the vast majority of flours other than cake flour these days.

                                                                                                              Ascorbic acid: Maturing agent. Strengthens gluten. Basically vitamin C. No bleaching effect.

                                                                                                              1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                                Zen, you should post that in some sort of wiki. Very informative.

                                                                                                                1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                  You can find it in a lot of places, for one baking911:

                                                                                                                  http://baking911.com/learn/ingredient...

                                                                                                                  If you're really interested, Shirley Corriher has good information in both Bakewise and Cookwise.

                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                    Good to know, thank you.

                                                                                                                2. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                                  Hi, Zen, great synopsis - very informative.

                                                                                                                  A couple of things:

                                                                                                                  You mention on the pastry flour that the bran is sifted out - aren't both the germ AND the bran removed from all of the flours you've mentioned here?

                                                                                                                  You mention the differences you've observed between Gold Medal and Pillsbury flours - they are owned/made by the same company, are they not? It would stand to follow that they are more similar than you imply?

                                                                                                                  You mention the inconsistency in results when making bread with Gold Medal flour - could this perhaps have been a moisture content issue versus a protein one? Just curious about this one because I have had very good luck with GM for many years; however, I live in a dry climate and always have to do less flour or more water than most recipes state - although weighing rather than volume measure helps with this somewhat. Also, my luck with GM could be regional.

                                                                                                                  Thanks for all of the good info!

                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                    Isn't Gold Metal a General Mills product? Unless there's been a merger that I'm not aware of General Mills and Pillsbury have been major rivals on the national market.

                                                                                                                    With stone-grinding, the whole grain is ground, and the parts that don't break as readily are sifted out - i.e. the bran and germ. Apparently with steel roller mills, the bran and germ are separated out in the milling process. The invention of roller mills greatly increased the availability of white flour, and dropped its cost.

                                                                                                                    I read at one time that some whole wheat flour (graham?) actually is white flour with ground bran added back in. I haven't seen that discussed in more recent reading so I won't be dogmatic about it. But I have observed that white whole wheat flour is more uniform in texture (as well as color) than the whole wheat flour that I used to buy.

                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                      Pillsbury and Gold Medal are both owned by General Mills.

                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                        So there was a merger - 2001. But the flour is Smuckers (same as White Lilly), not GM.

                                                                                                                        From the Wiki article

                                                                                                                        "Pillsbury is a brand name used by Minneapolis-based General Mills and Orrville, Ohio-based J.M. Smucker Company. Historically, the Pillsbury Company, also based in Minneapolis, was a rival company to General Mills and was one of the world's largest producers of grain and other foodstuffs until it was bought-out by General Mills in 2001. Antitrust law required General Mills to sell off some of the products. General Mills kept the rights to refrigerated and frozen Pillsbury products, while dry baking products and frosting are now sold by Smucker under license."

                                                                                                                        Which just emphasizes the fact that in the modern world, the brand name on the package tells you little about where the flour is milled, or wheat grown.

                                                                                                                        http://www.smuckers.com/family_compan...