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Dec 14, 2013 08:14 AM

biscuit flour? (besides white lily)

determined to overcome my fear of delicate relationships between flour and fat in order to make biscuits on this snowy day. I'm in brooklyn and doubt I will find white lily flour within walking distance; experienced biscuit-bakers: what is second best and widely available?

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  1. While I am, now, a northern devotee of White Lily, another thread pointed me towards a 50/50 blend of your favorite all purpose flour and cake flour.

    I tried it and had good results.

    Mind you, it was not a self-rising flour, so don't forget the leavening and salt.

    I had to look hard at the options at my grocery store to find cake was with the cake mixes...not the flours.

    Your mileage may vary!

    Have a hot biscuit for me!

    1. this might be considered biscuit heresy, but I've always done well with King Arthur AP flour. I've been told it's not proper, and I understand the higher protein content isn't ideal, but it makes nice tender biscuits for me. The main thing is to be careful not to over-knead and develop the gluten too much.

      1. The important difference in WL is that it is a softer (lower protein) flour - lower than most AP, but not as low as cake.

        King Arthur AP is higher in gluten than most APs, so isn't quite as good for biscuits. But KA also sells a self rising flour. Since self-rising flour is designed for uses like biscuits and muffins, it may be lower gluten than the AP (from the same brand).

        I've tried WL, both plain and sr, KA sr, generic sr, and haven't notice a significant difference.

        My biscuits have gotten better over time, but that is due to getting a feel for the best dough consistency and handling. So I think WL advantage has been over blown.

        You can tweak the gluten level of your AP by diluting it with a pure starch (e.g. corn, potato). Typically the substitution for cake flour is a tablespoon or two. I like to use other grains or flours (rye, barley, nuts) which can have the same effect.

        3 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          Instead of corn or potato starch if there's a Chinese market close by you can buy wheat starch. I've had very good results blending wheat starch with my regular AP flour.

          1. re: sheetz

            whoa so I can put a couple TB corn starch into my AP flour (plus leavening, salt) and get something comparable to WL or a 50/50 cake flour/AP flour mix? That's so cool! (Obviously still in bed googling instead of baking)


          "Extensive testing in Brooklyn bears her statement out. Cake flour, a low-protein flour that is available in supermarkets from Boston to Chicago, north to Seattle and down to Los Angeles, makes a fine biscuit. Standard Northern all-purpose flour does as well, especially if you allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes or so before cutting it out and baking....
          The most important thing is to make biscuits a lot."

          this finds a big advantage for WL self-rising

          2 Replies
          1. re: paulj

            wow thank you! more saturday procrasturbation fodder. i made the biscuits using regular (not marked ap) arrowhead mills unbleached white flour with 1.5 TB cornstarch mixed in, along with baking powder and salt. I also subbed diluted yogurt with a bit of vinegar added for buttermilk. The frankenbiscuits came out super flaky which made me happy cause this the first laminate-ish pastry I've attempted, but also super flat... will be reading up to figure out why.

            1. re: ramonasaur

              There's some thing of a trade off between flaky and fluffy biscuits.

              Touch of Grace biscuits are made with a wet dough, that has to be handled with floured hands and baked side by side in a rimmed pan. They are supposed to be the lightest, tallest biscuits.

              On the other hand if you squeeze the shortening into coins, and fold the dough (a stiffer one) several times, you are more likely to get flaky biscuits. The fat helps separate layers, and working gives more gluten structure.

          2. Here's a list I put together of U.S. wheat flour types

            Wheat Flour Protein:

            -Protein levels range from about 7% in pastry and cake flours to as high as about 15% in high-gluten bread flour.

            -Protein percentage indicates the amount of gluten available in the a given flour. Gluten is the substance which develops when the flour protein, which occurs naturally in wheat flour, is combined with liquid and kneaded.

            -Because gluten is able to stretch elastically, it is desirable to have a higher gluten flour for yeast-raised products, which have doughs that are stretched extensively; like pizza, most yeast breads, and bagels.

            -For cakes, pie crusts, cookies, biscuits, pancakes, waffles and pastry to be short and crumbly or tender, a lower protein flour is better. Also, in higher gluten flours, the gluten can overpower the chemical leaveners like baking powder or baking soda, causing the final baked goods to not rise as high.

            -Hard winter wheat, mainly grown in the north, has a higher protein and more gluten, 10% to 13%.
            Most northern and national brand all-purpose flours, bread flour and high-gluten flour is made from hard winter wheat.

            -Soft summer wheat, mainly grown in the south, has a lower protein and lower gluten, 8% to 10%
            Most cake, pastry and southern all-purpose flour is made from soft summer wheat.

            Bleaching flour does a couple of things, it whitens the flour and it also alters the flour protein causing it to form weaker gluten.
            Most cake flours are bleached.
            FLOUR PROTEIN BY TYPES AND BRANDS (retail flour):
            CAKE FLOUR - 7% to 9.4% protein
            Best Use: cakes, blending with national brands all-purpose flour to make pastry flour or Southern flour substitute.
            -King Arthur Queen Guinevere Cake Flour, 7.0%
            -King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend, 9.4%
            -Pillsbury Softasilk Bleached Cake Flour, 6.9%
            -Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
            -Swans Down Bleached Cake Flour, 7.1%
            PASTRY FLOUR - 8 to 9% protein
            Best Use: biscuits, cookies, pastries, pancakes, pie crusts, waffles.
            -King Arthur Unbleached Pastry Flour, 8%
            -King Arthur Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, 9%
            ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, SOUTHERN - 8 to 9% protein
            Best Use: biscuits, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, quick breads, waffles.
            -Martha White Bleached All-Purpose Flour, 9%
            -White Lily Bleached All-Purpose Flour, 8 to 9%
            SELF-RISING FLOUR (flour, baking powder, salt) - 8 to 10.5% protein
            Best Use: biscuits, cookies, pancakes, muffins, quick breads, waffles.
            -Gold Medal Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 10.5%
            -King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour, 8.5%
            -Martha White Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 9.4%
            -Pillsbury Best Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 9.7%
            -Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
            -White Lily Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 8 to 9%
            ALL PURPOSE BAKING MIXES (flour, shortening, baking powder, sugar, salt) - 6.25 to 12.5% protein
            Best Use: biscuits, cookies, coffee cakes, pancakes, quick breads, pastry, waffles
            -Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Baking Mix, 12.5%
            -Bisquick Original Baking Mix, 7.5%
            -Jiffy All Purpose Baking Mix, 6.25%
            -King Arthur Flour All Purpose Baking Mix, 10%
            -Pioneer Original Baking Mix, 7.5%
            INSTANT FLOUR 10.5 to 12.6% protein
            Best Use: thicken gravies, sauces, and soups without lumps.
            -Gold Medal Wondra Quick Mixing Flour, 10.5%
            -Pillsbury Best Shake & Blend Flour, 12.6%
            Best Use: makes average biscuits, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, pizza crusts, quick breads, waffles, yeast breads.
            -Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour, 10.5%
            -Pillsbury Best All-Purpose Flour, 10 to 11.5%
            -Pioneer All-Purpose Flour, 10%
            -White Wings All-Purpose Flour, 10%
            ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, NORTHERN, BLEACHED & UNBLEACHED - 11.5 to 12% protein
            Best Use: cream puffs, puff pastry, yeast breads, pizza crusts.
            -Heckers and Ceresota All-Purpose Flour, 11.5 to 11.9 %
            -King Arthur All-Purpose Flour, 11.7%
            -Robin Hood All-Purpose Flour, 12.0%
            BREAD FLOUR - 11.7 to 12.9% protein
            Best Use: traditional yeast breads, bread machine, pizza crusts, pasta.
            -Gold Medal Better For Bread, 12%
            -King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour, 12.7%
            -Pillsbury Best Bread Flour, 12.9%
            -White Lily Unbleached Bread Flour, 11.7%
            DURUM WHEAT (Semolina) 13 to 13.5% protein
            Best Use: Pasta.
            -Hodgson Mill Golden Semolina & Extra Fancy Durum Pasta Flour, 13.3%
            -King Arthur Extra Fancy Durum Flour, 13.3%
            WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR - 12.9 to 14% protein
            Best Use: hearth breads, blending with other flours.
            -Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flour, 13.3%
            -King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
            -King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
            -Pillsbury Best Whole Wheat Flour, 12.9%
            HIGH-GLUTEN FLOUR 14 to 15% protein
            Best Use: bagels, pizza crusts, blending with other flours.
            -King Arthur Organic Hi-Gluten Flour, 14%
            -King Arthur Sir Lancelot Unbleached Hi-Gluten Flour, 14.2%
            VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN FLOUR, Breadmaking Supplement - 65 to 77% protein
            Best Use: Added to raise gluten. Adds extra gluten to low-gluten whole grain flours, such as rye, oat, teff, spelt, or buckwheat.
            -Arrowhead Mills Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 65.0%
            -Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
            -Gillco Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
            -Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 66.6%
            -King Arthur Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 77.8%
            Retail Flour Companies - Brands:
            -Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Milwaukie, Oregon -Bob's Red Mill
            -C.H. Guenther & Son Inc, San Antonio, Texas - Pioneer Flour, Pioneer Baking Mix, White Wings Flour
            -General Mills Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota - Bisquick, Gold Medal Flour, (sold US Pillsbury Flour , retains Pillsbury frozen goods)
            -Hain Celestial Group Inc, Boulder, Colorado - Arrowhead Mills
            -J.M. Smucker Company, Orrville, Ohio - Martha White Flour, Pillsbury Flour, Robin Hood Flour, White Lily Flour
            -King Arthur Flour Company, Norwich, Vermont - King Arthur Flour
            -Reily Foods Company, New Orleans, Louisiana - Swan's Down Cake Flour, Presto Self Rising Cake Flour
            -Uhlmann Company, Kansas City, Missouri - Heckers Flour, Ceresota Flour
            To make self-rising flour, add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp table salt to each cup of flour.
            To make a lower protein flour (similar to White Lily or Pastry flour), mix half cake flour with half all-purpose flour.
            Another substitute for soft Southern flour, not quite as tender, for each cup of regular all-purpose flour, replace 2 Tablespoons of flour with cornstarch, mix well. (1 cup lightened all-purpose flour = 14 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp cornstarch.)
            Version 7-6-2013