1.13.2008

The Best - So Far

RePost: Last night I used a type "00" Italian (very finely milled, from KingArthurFlour.com) flour in my baguette recipe and it wasn't as good. I will be trying it a few more times before returning to Montana Sapphire as well as using it for a couple pizzas, but the early results favor Montana Sapphire. The original post follows.

Faithful readers of the weber_cam know I am absolutely obsessed about flour. I buy a bag and immediately put it through a "use" test. A use test is a euphemism. It means you don't know enough about the specifications of the material to adequately know if it will work in your application - so you use it and see if it's ok. Too many cookbooks blindly preach more is better when it comes to protein content in flour. Ultimately, it depends on your application. Flour's complicated and there are many more significant specs (ash, ascorbic acid additive, bromate or not, etc., ) that are crucial to the final product. Also, it's good to find a flour that will be constant over time. That's why I prefer large manufacturer flours. Small mills have greater variability.

Montana Sapphire unbleached white flour is my current favorite. It's all-purpose with a protein content of 10% w/w and it performs extremely well in my use test. My test recipe is a straight dough baguette:
water, 200g
flour, 300 g
rapid rise yeast, 2.25 t
salt, 5 grams
butter (currently olive oil), 4 grams

3 rises, baked at 425 for 30 minutes. It's been a stellar performer. And, it's available at Giant-Eagle in 5, 10 and 25 lb bags.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Montana Flour is the best for baking bread. However, in my area, out of many Giant Eagle stores only 1 carries it and it a 60 miles roundtrip. Rather rediculous since there are 4 Giant Eagles within 10 miles of my home.

Linda

dave said...

That's too bad. At least they have 25# bags. Buy a lot when you go. I really like it. Don't hesitate to try other flours though, sometimes it's surprising how much difference there is in performance and everyone has their own preferences.

Anonymous said...

What is the actual brand name maker of this flour? Is it really "Montana" or is that a trademark name or something? I'm trying to find other stores that carry it, but it is difficult without know the actual maker. Thanks in advance. email:jerrodshaffer@yahoo.com

Dave said...

Hey Jerrod,

It's manufactured by Conagra (conagrafoods.com) and is tricky to find. I got lucky and it's carried in a few common grocery stores here in the heartland. Maybe email a contact from the site for the closest distributor.

mac said...

I really like that flour but it is hard to find. Living in suburban Chicago I have given up loooking for it and just stick the the KAF. In Columbus, we have gotten it at a flour distributor, Corbett Company, on Paragon Dr. They will sell (at least used to, I haven't been there in over a year) to the public. The also have SAF yeast for cheap. I have a couple pictures of the place on my flikr page.

Cheers.

Dave said...

Bonjour Saucisson,

I contacted ConAgra a few days ago asking about availability. I'll post if they give a good source.

You're site's nice. I'll be visiting often.

Mike -- Chicago, IL. said...

I inquired about this via ConAgra's web-site. They don't even list it as one of their products! I filled out the form on the site requesting some information but now many days later they haven't responded.

Today I called them and endured the very long hold times to find that it is not in any store near Chicago. The operator said she would continue to research it and get back to me.

Just now ConAgra called back to say they only have ONE CUSTOMER for this product... Cleveland Syrup, in Cleveland Ohio. My guess is that they are distributing it locally on their own.

Dave -- what do you find to be the SECOND best flour?

Mike -- Chicago, IL. said...

I just got off the phone with ConAgra's only customer for this flour. It's a distributor in Cleveland and they have been selling it in the area for 75 years.

In a pleasant conversation he explained that it is a specialty flour due to the higher protein content and it he considers it an "ethnic" flour. By that he means that the typical customer is an older ethnic woman who uses it because... they have always used it.

With all that said, and in spite of the fact that it is a great product, in order for him to distribute it in new outlets the stores typically want a huge fee ("slotting") to carry the product plus a guaranteed minimum amount of sales.

Long story short - you folks around Cleveland consider yourselves lucky and the rest of us can stop checking our local grocers.

mac said...

That just makes no sense, it's such good stuff. For the past year or so I have been buying 25 pound bags whenever I'm in CMH. It'll last me 3-4 months. Mike, next time I'm down there I'll get ya a bag.

Dave said...

Thanks for trying Mike. I talked to someone at ConAgra long ago and they said they only distributed to PA and OH. I fear they pull out of Giant Eagle someday.

Mike -- Chicago, IL. said...

For what it's worth, the distributor said that King Midas Unbleached was probably the closest competitor.

So, the search started again... turns out to be a ConAgra product... used the contact-us form on the ConAgra site yesterday -- asking where I could get it. No answer yet.

Thanks for the offer, Mac. In the meantime I'll pretend it's still last month -- when I thought all flour was the same.

Mike -- Chicago, IL. said...

Ok, ok... just to play this out to the bitter end this was the last and final attempt to not use what I already have ready at hand (which is turning out edible baguettes).

ConAgra emailed back that I should direct flour questions to their flour guy. I wrote to the flour guy and he says King Midas is not available retail at all and it only comes in 50lb. bags.