Welcome To The Pioneer Mills Pioneer All-Purpose Flour Flour Test
Part of the Big Flour Test
|Disclaimer - Before we get into the test, it's worth mentioning that 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: Super Walmart, Salida, Colorado
What we paid for it: $0.89 for 5 lbs in late 2002
Protein content: 10%
Interesting Vendor Story: Pioneer Mills has been in integral part of San Antonio, Texas since 1851, and their flour has been a standby in Texas for nearly as long.
Our first impressions: It's flour. White. Fluffy. It handles nicely, with the dough feeling slightly more moist at the same hydration than many other flours.
Any special reason we're testing this flour: Someone in the rec.food.sourdough newsgroup asked if the flour was any good. Someone else opined, from a total lack of knowledge, that it was best to avoid these "unknown brand flours". So, we wanted to try it and see if it was good, bad, or indifferent. Pioneer is hardly an unknown brand, though they are somewhat regional. They have been in San Antonio, Texas, since the mid 1800's.
How'd we screw up the tests this time? I was on a roll! No mess-ups in the past 3 or 4 tests! We coulda been contendas! But the winning streak ended. I forgot to do the 10:00 PM feeding of the three stage French bread, so in the morning it had been sitting unfed, unloved, and unrefreshed for 8 hours. So, I gave it its 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM feedings at 6:00 AM and let it rise and ferment for 8 more hours. It turned out nicely despite my errors.
Conclusions: This was a nice, easy to use flour. The tastes of the breads were pleasant, if a bit mild. It rose well. Overall, we liked Peter Pan and Gold Medal a bit better, but if the price was right we'd certainly use it again.
Bohemian Rye The Bohemian Rye was very nice. Pioneer's flour was strong enough to give the rye bread body, and light enough to stay out of the rye flour's way. The bread had a thick, firm, but yielding, crust. The crumb was tight but irregular, with larger holes near the top of the loaf. The crust had nice toasty caramel notes. The aroma was nicely sour with good caraway notes. The crumb's taste was well balanced with sour and rye tastes surrounded by the caraway. Like the Energizer bunny, the taste just kept going and going and going.
Ciabatta remains one of our favorite breads. It's not just the taste of the bread, it's the social ritual of tearing off hunks and dipping them in flavored oil with friends and family. It's nicely sensual, if the bread cooperates. This was a very nice ciabatta, with an open, irregular, medium sized crumb. It would have been nice if the holes in the crumb had been a bit larger. The crust was soft, which is the way we prefer our ciabatta, and somewhat pale. The ciabatta had a stronger sour note than most, which worked very well with the olive oil. The wheat taste was mild, with the bread being very satisfying
Simple Sourdough Pan Bread - should be a celebration of sour. This bread started with a nice sour smell with a crisp thin crust and a nicely soft crumb. The crisp crust had a slight toasty sweet caramel taste. The crumb had a nice, but mild, sour taste, which was balanced by a mild wheat taste. The crumb was open, irregular, and had medium sized holes. Unlike some flours on this recipe, the bread was nicely browned. All in all, very nice. (And, yes, it did make excellent grilled cheese sandwiches.
Three stage French bread, or Pain au Levain, is an excellent sandwich bread. It had a nice aroma, a firm, crisp crust, a tight crumb with a nicely irregular structure. The crust had a nicely toasty caramel taste. All of the crusty breads made with this flour had the nice toasty caramel crust which we found very pleasing. The crumb had a nice sour/wheat balance in taste. It was good plain or toasted. Still, the bread was a bit on the mild side.
Hydration Pictures As discussed, we took pictures at 60, 80, and 100% hydration. The Pioneer flour worked nicely, but it seemed somewhat wetter than most of the other flours at the same hydration.