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As we've seen in previous questions, certain flours have different gluten contents. Time and time again, I find reviews of King Arthur Flour recipes indicating that I really must use their flour if I want the recipe to come out right, as any other flour will make it come out horribly wrong. Is there a way to convert a bread recipe to use a more widely available brand, given that my supermarket actually sells gluten in a bag?

ETA: Also, is there a way to find out what makes a given brand different so I can evaluate it?

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You're asking how to convert between types of flours (bread, wheat, ap, cake, etc) or brands (KA, Gold Medal, etc) ? –  rfusca Feb 21 '12 at 22:10
    
@rfusca Brands, sorry. Although if, say, using Gold MEdal bread flour can approximate KA AP flour, I'm not adverse to switching types. –  Yamikuronue Feb 22 '12 at 0:29

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you are simply looking to convert gluten contents then you can certainly always go higher by adding the correct proportion of vital wheat gluten to dough to get the percentage of gluten that you want.

However there are many other differences between flour bags in terms of processing. How is the flour ground? What wheat variety is it from? Is it white or whole? There are a lot of variables.

I do speak as someone who has found that Gold Medal is perfectly acceptable for all my baking needs and also routinely uses store brand flour. Personally I suggest simply trying whatever flour you want to try (not including substituting bread for cake or something along those lines, that definitely will cause issues) and seeing how the recipe goes. Determine if a higher-end flour brand is for you yourself.

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The problem is, if I try a recipe meant for, say, KA flour, and it comes out dense, I don't have the experience to know if that's because of the gluten content int he flour or some other variable of the flour or something else went wrong in the process... hmm. Is there a place I can find out what variables apply to what flour? (oh god, now I'm approaching this like a programmer) –  Yamikuronue Feb 23 '12 at 16:16
    
Fine Cooking has the best reference I've found - KA flour has the highest protein. You can learn some about KA flours from their website, like what wheat type each is. This site has some interesting information on additives in flour. This site has some interesting discussion, but sadly most of the links are out of date. –  justkt Feb 23 '12 at 18:37
    
Interesting! According to Fine Cooking, KA All-purpose has almost the same protein as Pillsbury bread flour, which I ended up using. So maybe it wasn't the flour... –  Yamikuronue Feb 23 '12 at 18:41

Our Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book (very old), is is a 5 ring binder with stuff written on the inside of the cover--very useful stuff including a generic answer to this question.

Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book "Emergency Substitutions" 1 cup cake flour = 1 cup minus 2 tabelspoons all-puropse flour

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The question was about brands, not types –  Yamikuronue Jul 9 '13 at 12:19

King Arthur All Purpose flour is milled from hard winter North Dakota wheat if I remember their website correctly, which gives it a higher typical protein percentage than most all purpose flour brands.

See this great article, which includes a comparison of several popular flour brands:

http://www.theartisan.net/flour_test.htm

Assuming you measure by weight and not volume, its pretty simple to mix two flours to get an intermediate protein level. For example, about 1 part Pillbury AP + 1 to 2 parts Pillsbury Better for Bread is a pretty good approximation of King Arthur All Purpose.

In my limited experience, I find the KA site bread recipes are pretty forgiving, and work with slightly varying results with almost any flour. I have made their English Muffin bread successfully with Pillsbury AP and Pillsbury Better for Bread.

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