Comparing Flours…King Arthur's Bread Flour
After my last post about poor quality flour, I decided to see what other kinds of flour I could find locally. I found a 5lb bag of King Arthur Unbleached Bread flour at the local KTA market and also a Gold Medal Bread flour, which was five pounds as well. The King Arthur Flour cost me 6.99 for 5 lbs! The Gold Medal was 3.49. I also found a 5lb bag of Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached Bread flour at the local Cost U Less, and it was 3.99. Don’t forget, prices are high in Hawaii.
Since we moved to Hawaii, I haven’t known where to buy good flour. So when we visited Kona, I bought 100 lbs of flour. What a mistake! I still have about 40 lbs to go and I am using it now to feed my starter.
The bread which resulted needed all kinds of tricks to get it to bake up presentably. Most of the loaves were pale, had a crackery look, poor quality crust which never blistered, slack difficult to handle dough and the dough always needed way more water than it should have according to hydration calculations. I didn’t take many pictures of the disappointing loaves but here are a few:
disappointing! I wondered if it might be the catchment water which is rainwater. I know it can make the dough a bit softer and stickier, but could it be the flour? I needed to find some flours to test.
I made up a formula for the comparison test:
In the afternoon mix together:
- 166% hydration ripe starter – 9 oz/255g
- water – 6 oz /170 g
- Bread Flour – (whichever flour you are testing) 15 oz/425g
Stir the ingredients with a large spoon until it comes together in a ball and then knead the dough a few times with your hand to mix well. Don’t pour the dough out on the table or anything, just knead it a few times in the bowl with your hand. The dough won’t be too sticky, just a little.
This will make 1 lb 14 oz/850g of preferment at 63.2 % hydration.
Keep this preferment in a lightly covered bowl at room temperature. The room temperature is very warm between 80 -90 degrees. So this dough will be treated as a warm dough and not allowed to ferment as long as a cold dough. Ferment for 2 hours and then stir down the dough (you can fold the dough a couple of times as it ferments). Next refrigerate the dough in a covered container overnight.
In the morning take out your preferment and let it warm up for one hour at room temperature (around 80F)
In another bowl add together:
- water – 14 oz/396.9g
- Bread flour (whichever flour you are testing) 21 oz/595g
- Salt – .8 oz/22g
Final dough: 4lbs 1.8 oz/1865g at 65% hydration.
Mix this dough together and once it is incorporated,let it set for 20 minutes. Then add the preferment to the just mixed dough and knead the two doughs together until they are well mixed together. Let this final dough ferment for three hours at warm room temperatures of between 80 -90 degrees. You can also fold the dough a few times during the ferment time. I like to fold the dough once an hour or at least three times. Divide the dough into two pieces. Next shape your two loaves which weigh around two lbs each and place in a proofing basket or whatever contaner you are using for raising dough. Allow the dough the final proof and keep an eye on it as it could proof as quickly as an hour.
My dough was ready in 1 hour and 15 minutes. I did stagger the shaping of the loaves by 30 minutes. To stagger dough, shape one loaf and keep the rest of the dough covered in the bowl. Then after 30 minutes shape the last loaf. Preheat your oven and baking stone to 450F and have it ready when the first loaf is ready to bake.
When the dough is done proofing, slash, spray the loaf once well with water using a misting water bottle and then cover the dough with a turkey roasting lid/or pan (it is best to put the roasting lid into the oven five minutes before the dough goes in so it can also preheat). Bake at 450F for 20 minutes and then carefully remove the roasting lid, the escaping steam is VERY hot! Turn your oven down to 425F and bake for 10 more minutes or until you achieve a deep wonderful color to the crust (which I wasn’t able to obtain with poor flour quality-see previous post).
Take out a loaf which should(hopefully if you have good flour) look like this :
King Arthur Bread Flour results: