Sad Sack or “Why Flour Matters”


Isn’t this just the saddest thing ever?

What should have been a beautiful bouncy loaf of potato bread is sagging under its own weight.

This is is flour disaster.

I used a new bread flour today. Unbleached, unbromated. Those are my requirements. But something went wrong. So sadly wrong.

First, it rose up so high on the first rise  I was almost alarmed. But with a little manhandling I got it back under control and into a bread pan. I shaped it, oiled the top, covered it with plastic wrap and left it.

Maybe left it a little too long. Someone, who will remain nameless, talked me into making a “quick” run to the store with him for some things. I came back and the bread had run amok. Risen up and over the edges of the pan and was quickly creeping across the counter. Ahhh! Anyone remember the movie “the Blob”?

Sooo, I took it once again, beat it down, shaped it and let it rise again. This time I hung around and kept one eye on it at all times. The yeast was going so strong, it still rose like some fast motion Disney movie of growing mushrooms. By the 3rd rise you would think the yeast would start running out of food and slow down. But nooo. I got it into the oven at just the right time. But the little bugger just wouldn’t give up! It ballooned up in the oven like it wanted to enter a hot air balloon contest. Where are we, New Mexico?

In retrospect there are 2 things I might have done differently. Added a bit more flour for strength. And perhaps let it bake longer. Once it came out of the pan it seemed to lose all its will to live. It had given it’s all.

Now its all just chicken feed.

But looking back, I think it was too low a protein in the bread, which translates into not enough gluten. What I thought was bread flour, what was labeled as bread flour, is actually more of an all purpose flour.

They lied.

Sigh. Can’t win em all I guess.

I am updating this post. I remember buying about 50 pounds of this so called “bread flour “and after 3 bread baking disasters, I realized that this flour I had so much of was only going to be good for cookies, biscuits, scones, brownies, etc. Basically anything BUT bread.

So I write this for you as a warning. Not all flour is best for bread. It needs to be a flour that has some muscle, so it can stand up to the stretching going on and the baking. It can hold up all those strands of glutinous bread without collapsing.

And as I’ve said before, its best to get flour that is labeled ‘unbleached, unbromated”.

The flours I use regularly and recommend are “Wheat Montana” which I find at Walmart for a very good price, just around $6 for a 10lb sack. They grow it, mill it and bag it themselves, passing along the savings and leaving out one of the many middle men. They also state on their website that they do not spray with any glycophosphates, so if that is a concern for you, there you go. Even the non organic ones aren’t sprayed with that. The whole wheat states on back “chemical free”. So thats nice.

Then there is Bobs Red Mill, Arrowhead Mills Wheat, which is primarily organic, and of course, King Arthur, which has a variety of wheats, both organic and non. I find them a bit pricey. But that depends on how much you bake. For an average baker, I suggest paying for the best you can get. You will not be sorry. And if you don’t use it that often, wrap it in a ziplock bag and freeze it until needed. This is especially true for whole wheat flours. The oils in them go bad faster and freezing keeps them fresher.

So these are the flours available to me in Southern Cal and are very common across the country. Ones I would recommend.

Happy baking!





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