Bob's Red Mill vs Gold Medal and King Arthur

Bread made from Bob's Red Mill flour

Bread made from Bob's Red Mill flour

If you have been following the last few posts, you will know that this post is about testing Bob’s Red Mill bread flour. So far I have tested King Arthur and Gold Medal bread flour, which you can see in the two previous posts. I made up a formula to follow when testing each flour and it can be found in the King Arthur post here:

http://northwestsourdough.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/comparing-flours-and-warm-weather-baking/

While testing Bob’s Red Mill flour, I found a bit of a problem with hard to handle, sticky dough. The bread also did not bake up with a good  crumb or crust color. Following the same directions as found in the link above, I found that this batch of sourdough bread had a hard time achieving a good crust color.

First Loaf - Bob's Red Mill

First Loaf - Bob's Red Mill

 So for the second loaf, I left the oven on 450F the whole baking period and extended the time 5 additional minutes. I was able to achieve a nice looking loaf by keeping the oven hotter and extending the baking period:

Second Loaf - Bob's Red Mill

Second Loaf - Bob's Red Mill

However, I still found the crumb a bit disappointing. It was somewhat stiff, not soft and chewy, kind of like when your sourdough loaf  is a day old.

Bob's Red Mill Crumb

Bob's Red Mill Crumb

This flour reminded me the most of the Con Agra Mills flour which produced such poor quality results, that I began this flour testing. I want to mention that Con Agra Mills produces many other types of flour which may be quite good (if they want to send me some of their other flours to test, I would be happy to do so!).  I only used the in house brand that Costco sells, which may be set to Costco’s standards (ie, perhaps the poorest quality flour left over from the flour sorting).

However, I was able to bake up a much better looking loaf with the Bob’s Red Mill flour than the Con Agra Mill flour. So although I would take the Bob’s Red Mill over the Con Agra Mill flour, Bob’s Red Mill rated third in the three that I tested so far.  Here is the rating list:

Gold Medal  – 1st with Gold Medal edging out ahead because of price

King Arthur – 2nd – first in quality with Gold Medal but high priced

Bob’s Red Mill – 3rd – you can coax an acceptable loaf from this flour

Costco brand Con Agra Mill bread flour – the lowest quality bread flour I have ever used

I wanted to do this testing because I realized with the amount of emails I get with people not being able to bake up a great loaf of sourdough, that maybe low quality flour might be the culprit in many cases.

I know that after using poor quality flour for a while, even though I knew it was the flour, I just began to think I lost my ability to bake anything anymore. I know we all have times like that, next time that happens to you… think..maybe it is the flour’s fault, it just might be. If I can obtain any other brands of flour here in Hawaii, I will test them using the same formula and post the results.

 If you have tested any bread flour brands out there, using the same formula as the one listed in the link above, send me in your picures and your observations and I will post them.

Aloha! Teresa

7 Responses to 'Bob's Red Mill vs Gold Medal and King Arthur'

  1. MJ says:

    Which type of Gold Medal did you test? My grocer has several varieties, Better for Bread, Unbleached All-Purpose, etc.

  2. Moriah says:

    Teresa:

    You have the ability to make a poor flour look good. 😉 I’m feeling a little sad. I just bought 25 pounds of the in-house brand flour at Sam’s… I’m committed to making round holiday challah.. It should be sufficient, no?

  3. Hi MJ, I tested the Better for Bread Gold Medal. Hi Moriah, test the flour using my test and see how it does. Report back here and I will post it. Good luck, Teresa

  4. Mimi says:

    Jeez, who would have thought that moving to paradise would send you to bread bakers hell! I hope you find your perfect flour soon.

    xoxoxo
    Mimi

  5. Joe MacBu says:

    Thanks for sharing these experiments.

    You should do a test with King Arthur AP flour, which is a hard red winter wheat like the Gold Medal Better For Bread flour. The KA Bread flour is a hard red spring wheat. The winter wheats generally have greater extensibility.

    Is there a bakery supplier near you? Many will unofficially sell to individuals if you ask nicely. They usually have higher quality flour than CostCo, and a 50lb bag goes for ~$20.

    Commercial equivalents of consumer flours:

    GM BFB = GM Harvest King
    KA AP = KA Sir Galahad
    KA Bread = KA Special

  6. dmo says:

    I realize I’m coming late to the party here, but I too felt I got worse results with Bob’s than with King Arthur AP flour (organic in both cases). Then I noticed that Bob’s is pure wheat flour – no malted barley flour added, while KA does add a small amount of malted barley flour.

    It’s common practice to add mbf which, in tiny amounts, adjusts the “falling number” or enzymatic activity of the flour. This has nothing to do with synthetic “improvers” etc. – mbf is simply barley grains that have been sprouted then dried at low temp and ground into flour. This is at least at ancient as the brewing of beer.

    Diastatic malt powder is the same thing as mbf, and I bought some from KA and added a half-teaspoon to a kilo of Bob’s flour. I felt it significantly improved the result.

  7. sonya says:

    thank-you for posting your results! i was really curious about whether to buy flour from Bob’s or King Arthur, and this was very helpful!

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