Welcome To The King Arthur's All Purpose Flour Flour Test
Part of the Big Flour Test
|Please note - we are not connected with any flour vendor mentioned on this web site. We can't tell you where to find any of these flours outside our own home town, and we have no idea why the vendor discontinued your favorite flour, or why your favorite recipe is no longer on the back of the package. And now... here's the review of this flour.....|
Where we bought it: City Market, Gunnison, CO
What we paid for it: $2.49 for 5 lbs, late 2002
Protein content: 10%
Interesting Vendor Story: As soon as I started the flour tests, the email started coming. "Have you tested King Arthur flour yet?", "When are you going to test King Arthur flour?", "King Arthur is my absolute favorite, I can't believe you haven't tested it yet!" and on and on and on. Kind of the Apple™ of flours.... lots of very loyal fans. So, I just had to try it.
Our first impressions: Nice. Very nice. This was one of two tests that "just had to be done" before I could shut down the tests. The other was the Pillsbury Softasilk Cake Flour test. As I was tasting the Softasilk breads, which were disappointing, the King Arthur All-Purpose breads were baking, and the smell was driving me crazy. I don't think I'd have pitched the other breads if these hadn't been on their way out of the oven. The flour handled well, rose nicely, and the breads browned very attractively. The flour is promising. Very promising.
Any special reason we're testing this flour: Because King Arthur fans threatened to break my legs if I didn't. (No, not really.) Because any flour that has this loyal a set of followers has to be tried. Can it live up to its advance billing? Can anything live up to this sort of advance billing? We'll see.
How'd we screw up the tests this time? It was kismet. It was meant to be. Everything went smoothly. Even the kitchen cleanup at the end of the baking went well.
Conclusions: Nice. Very nice. We understand why so many people love King Arthur flours. It's one of the best flours we've used, and we can recommend it for general bread-baking.
Bohemian Rye The Bohemian Rye had an unusually good crumb. It was open, with lots of irregular small holes. The aroma took me away. Lots and lots of good caraway, rye and wheat smells. The crust was nicely browned, crisp, thick and chewy. The crust was sweeter than most. For once, the bottom crust was less crisp than the top crust, though I have no explanation for that. The crust was, by itself, tastier than many breads I have eaten. The crumb was very light for a rye bread, with a remarkably well balanced taste. Sour? Oh my, YES! Rye. Caraway. Wheat. A regular symphony. Usually it takes a higher gluten flour to pull a rye bread together, so this was a very pleasant surprise. An excellent bread. It is a bit hard to compare this to our other Bohemian Rye's as we ran out of our usual Bay States Milling Medium Rye flour and used Bob's Red Mill Dark Rye flour. Normally, a dark rye will reduce rise compared to a lighter rye, which makes the good rise all the more impressive.
Ciabatta is a favorite bread. And this one looks great. Well risen, a lovely brown color in the crust showing through the sprinkling of flour. Ciabatta should be a light bread, and this is, with a nice open and well defined crumb with lots of small to medium sized holes. The aroma is fresh and clean, with a good slap of sour in it. The top crust is pliable and tasty, with the bottom crust being nicely crisp. The taste of the crust is very similar to the Sourdough Pan Bread (below). The crumb is very nice, soft, and tasty. The taste of the sourdough is more forward than the other tastes, and the other tastes are way behind. Still, the sour isn't overwhelming and it makes for a very pleasant bread. Dipping it in olive oil - I'm convinced that's what ciabatta was made for - was a treat. The tastes of the oil came through nicely, balancing the taste of the bread, with neither one overwhelming the other. Finishing the slice was not only a duty, it was a very pleasant duty. Say - do you hear the olive tapenade calling me? I sure do...
Simple Sourdough Pan Bread - Sniffing the bread started things on the right foot. A well balanced, fresh, and strong sour smell with a good wheat flour aroma. It was hard to type this without just biting into the slice! The crust has a nice brown color, and is quite crisp. The bottom crust had a slight hint of caramel, without being overwhelming. The crumb wasn't as well developed as some of the other breads, but it had a nice open structure with irregular small to medium sized holes. This loaf was nicely risen, though a few others did rise higher (The Sam's Club Bread flour, the Hungarian High Altitude White Flour, the Gold Medal All-Purpose flour, the Safeway Unbleached All Purpose flour, and the Wheat Montana Natural White Flour all did a little better than King Arthur.) As is usually the case with this bread, the sour taste is the first taste you notice. The wheat is in the back seat, but that's OK. This bread should be a celebration of sour, and this loaf is up there with the best of them. The contrast between the crispness of the crust and the soft texture of the crumb was especially delightful. I tried dipping it in some nice olive oil, and the result was spectacular.
Three stage French bread This is a serious bread. One should show proper respect, sit up straight, and say a little prayer of thanksgiving before eating it. So, how did it stack up? As with all the white breads in this test, the crust was a beautiful shade of brown. I suspect the malt extract in the flour helped here. The bread is denser than the other two white breads, with a tight crumb with mostly small holes in it, with a scattering of medium sized holes. The aroma was less sour and more wheat than the other two white breads, which is the way the French like their breads. The top crust was thin and fairly crisp. The bottom crust was thicker, crisper, and chewier. You had to fight it a bit to eat it. This is the first of the white breads in this test who's crust had a "toasty" quality. The crumb was denser than the others, but it was also richer in taste. Again, a fine bread.
As discussed, we took pictures at 60, 80, and 100% hydration. King Arthur's All-purpose flour handled nicely, feeling somewhat softer at each hydration than many other flours. It handled easily, which is always a big plus.
at 100% hydration
at 80% Hydration
at 60% hydration