Comparing Bread Flours, what fun!! 🙂 Taste, cost, local? Read on for recipe, flour/mill info, and the USDA Food Access Map.
I was lobbying, happened on an Oregon Farm Day- Use Local for School Lunches, pulled pork (smell that BBQ sauce!), local farmers- try the bread and berry jam! I got a 1-lb. bag of bread flour. I like buying local and wanted to look for it at the store.
We bake. Our now grown-up neighbor, Kathleen, came over. Last time, we made traditional petit-fours, stacked, pressed & glazed, amazingly time consuming! Her specialty is cupcakes, so maybe next time she can teach me! We used a Mark Bittmann recipe, no-knead bread. Miss those NYT’s Minimalist videos, sigh. Now please, I know we could be eating raw, not turning on the oven. We compromise. 🙂
1 lb. flour
1/4 tsp. yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
12 oz. water
I stirred, proofed at room temp, then baked the next day, 450F, 30 minutes covered in a dutch oven, uncovered for another 15 minutes. They all overbaked to 210F, woops. But we liked them all and they are all history. Each had 2 oz. King Arthur European-style bread flour, an ounce of milled flax meal (good for us, including eyes 🙂 ). The rest, 13 oz. of flour, varied, comparing Green Willow, King Arthur and Western Family.
- Camas Country Mill. They are the most local mill, ~9 miles to the farm, 6 to the mill store from us. This 3rd generation farm is now diversifying to grains, lentils, & beans for local sales, including a total protein soup mix for Food for Lane County & local school districts. In season, I get their flours at Thistledown, the farmer’s market, or Eugene Local Foods . Their flour is all whole wheat, stone ground, 13% protein, $5.50 for 4 lbs. of bread flour. Their heirloom flour is Spectacular, and pricier. Sarah told me that they bought the “stone-ground” grinding mill from Denmark.
- GreenWillow Farms. This hard red wheat, stone ground, labels the farm & milling date. Comes in a pretty cotton bag Hubby claimed asap. 🙂 At $$8.99 for 5 lbs, whoa, pricey! It was a winner, smelled like fresh veggies coming out of the oven, not so much like dry flour, wow! The 1-lb. sample became pizza dough, Yum! ~40 miles away.
- King Arthur Bread Flour. Unbleached white flour, 13% protein. It is good, we like it, much better than AP flour for bread. It costs $5.99 for 5 lbs, $4.95 from Vermont, if I spend >$60. I called them. On-line, it comes from Vermont. After growing in the midwest, it goes east, turns around and ships all the way to Oregon. From my grocery store shelf, it comes on rails from midwest mills, directly west. They couldn’t nail where it is grown, US, nothing more specific, Big A- Agri-business, I’m guessing.
- Western Family Bread flour. This flour is unbleached white, 10% protein, $5.99 for 10 lbs. It surprised us, not bad. It is hard to get info on-line, aside from ingredients, nutrition. No reply from customer service message.
- Bob’s Red Mill, south of Portland. I get their varietal flours regularly, included here for local loyalty, but haven’t tried it. Closest to “bread flour” is their stone ground “hard white whole wheat“, $8.99 for 4-24 oz. bags, not easy to find locally. I called them, too. Here was a surprise. Their stuff sounds like Big A Agri-business, too. Wheat flour is “mostly US, some Canada, lots of mills”. At least it probably is shipped west to us, not east, and then back west.
We live in the Willamette Valley. Think Big Garden. Being Locavores “eat food raised within a 50 mile radius” is easy for us, local grocer ~1 mile away. Cut Big Oil shipping, reduce carbon footprint, sounds good. Raised beds in the back yard. Okay, coffee, some bananas, pineapple, we compromise a lot. I will blend these flours, balancing quality (taste, nutrition, including freshness), buying local, cost, and to keep it fresh, using up what’s on hand. Some is a bargain at a higher price, get what you pay for. Some may be snob appeal? I wish I understood pricing. The big producers may get subsidies, bet our local ones mostly don’t.
Ever heard of a Food Desert? I thought we lived in a Bread Basket. Look at this USDA Food Access map, put in your address & see how you stack up. We are surrounded by hungry people who have $ & Car trouble, don’t live close to good markets. See color? That means troubles. Right here in River City.
You know what? It is good to celebrate what we have, take care of each other & share, remember to enjoy life. Soon, back to the Legislature to add my 2¢, hoping it helps. 🙂