But even stranger was how many of the callers seemed, well, clueless
May 20, 2020 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Needs subscription to medium if you've read a couple of stories.
posted by lalochezia at 9:53 AM on May 20

Just bought some of their flour yesterday! They have some good recipes on their website; I like their crispy cheesy pan pizza (which I also made yesterday, using a larger skillet than they call for as their recipe makes the crust too thick for my taste when using a 10 inch skillet). Still hard to find, especially the bread flour. And the article’s assertion that sourdough is a reasonable alternative to yeast is a bit optimistic. You go through a lot of flour and a good two weeks or more to get a usable starter from what I have seen. Fortunately I bought a whole jar of Fleischmans yeast before this mess even started.
posted by TedW at 10:07 AM on May 20 [6 favorites]

What a great story. Thank you for sharing it. I teared up a bit re: the employee-owners who are making masks for everyone else!
posted by brainwane at 10:07 AM on May 20 [8 favorites]

The VT headquarters is not too far away from me, so I've gone and done a couple of their in-person classes in the last year and they have been awesome. Highly recommended when they come back online. I also like supporting worker-owned businesses, and it's so easy in the grain space between King Arthur and Bob's Red Mill.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 10:07 AM on May 20 [15 favorites]

My cookbook group has been loving the pizza recipe that TedW posted. I haven't made it yet but the pictures look absolutely amazing.
posted by tofu_crouton at 10:09 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]

My s/o is sensitive to enriched flour (probably the folic acid) and King Arthur is one of the few unbleached, unenriched varieties that don't give her heartburn.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:19 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]

How about a kingarthur and vermont tags for this post, please?
posted by terrapin at 10:20 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]

I'm not that surprised at the flour hoarding or the influx of "clueless" bakers. During the initial panic, people were trying to plan ahead, but they didn't have any guidance about how to do that. So you probably ran into the following mindset:

"....Okay, what else do I need...okay, bread for, like, sandwiches and stuff. Oh shit, they're out of Wonder Bread. ….Oh, and Pepperidge Farms too. Oh, there's one loaf of that Arnold stuff, let me grab that...okay, but this will last a week, what do I do when we run out?....oh, hang on, people bake bread. So I guess I need....flour? In case this lasts long? And I need more bread? Okay...I guess I'll just find a recipe online or something."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:21 AM on May 20 [13 favorites]

We ended up getting a 25-lb bag of flour and putting it in a 5-gallon foodsafe container. We bake all of our own bread now. And guess what? It is better than anything we bought in-store! Our sourdough is delicious and sturdy, our hamburger buns are delicious, fluffy and shiny. Baking FTW!
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:22 AM on May 20 [16 favorites]

Oh, fun fact - King Arthur does other baking supplies, like cocoa powder. And speaking of cocoa powder, they also have this magnificent stuff, a cocoa powder so rich they actually tell you on the package that you need to cut it with a less intense cocoa powder when you bake. I got a package about a year and change ago and whenever I make something chocolate, I swap out about 25-50% of the cocoa the recipe calls for with this stuff. It is intense.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:25 AM on May 20 [21 favorites]

We are KA fan. We just finished a 12 lb bag we ordered a month ago when we noticed that flour was getting difficult to locate in stores. It's an absurd amount of flour to go through compared to our normal usage, but I've been on the sourdough starter train and it's been very rewarding from a perspective of learning and having something to do.

And the article’s assertion that sourdough is a reasonable alternative to yeast is a bit optimistic. You go through a lot of flour and a good two weeks or more to get a usable starter from what I have seen.

It's certainly not as easy as commercial yeast, but following this method, it took about 2 cups of flour over two weeks (4 tsps of flour per feeding) to get a viable starter for me. It worked out really well after a failure following other methods that used a ton more flour and now I'm baking a boule of sourdough bread at least once a week. It wasn't until this past weekend with boule #5 that I produced something i would say rivaled bakery loaf (Breads 1-2 were dense and not understanding how to feed my starter properly, 3-4 had good rise but boring taste.

KA (or flour in general) has been hard to find as of late, even online has become a hunt and I just resorted this past weekend to buy a 10 lb bag at a dollar a pound (abusrd!) of run of the mill "Gold Medal" flour from a restaurant that was basically reselling supplies they were able to acquire through their commercial supply chains.
posted by Karaage at 10:25 AM on May 20 [5 favorites]

I’ve dehydrated some of my *very* happy sourdough starter (named Kandor, because it’s a tiny colony) made with King Arthur Whole Wheat and Unbleached All-Purpose flour as a backup in case I destroy my fridge supply. I will be happy to mail some of this to any US mefites who are worried about wasting their flour to start some from scratch. Memail me! (Apologies to non USians, but I don’t know the rules on mailing alive-tho-dormant cultures internationally.)

Also, I have spare yeast for the yeast deprived. I had good luck purchasing a large quantity, since the shortage seemed to be partially related to packaging problems for the smaller amounts. After dispensing to the neighbors, I still have plenty to share. Memail me if you need some!

I was unable to order flour directly from KA, but ordered some pantry storage and have been really happy with it. So happy that I got a second flour keeper for my whole wheat flour. I’m consistently impressed with this company.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 10:30 AM on May 20 [11 favorites]

Prompted by this ridiculous thread, I decided to try making New York Bagels during lockdown. It ... worked. It ... was easy. They were ... great. I even made them a second time to make sure it wasn't some weird beginner's luck. This was the recipe I used.

Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can do it.
posted by chavenet at 10:30 AM on May 20 [24 favorites]

A big part of the problem is that food-service size packages are all that's available right now. I've gone shopping once every two weeks, and only one store had a bag of flour that was smaller than 25 lbs / 11kg. The only yeast I can find is 1 lb / 450g! I finally gave in and bought a 25-pound bag of Costco organic AP, because we will eventually go through it. Wish I could get King Authur or even bread flour of any kind.

My favorite recipe so far is the low-knead bread, except I truly don't knead it, just scrape it out of the bowl and shape it a bit. (They say to "fold it over" a few times, but that is kneading and as far as I'm concerned is cheating.) I'm using 450g flour, 285g water, 10g salt, and 50g sourdough starter (100% hydration ratio - 30 g each flour and water). So I don't use any yeast at all.
posted by wnissen at 10:30 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]

Interesting, up here in Canada the company the one brand that you see being used by most households (as well as in cooking based reality shows) is Robin Hood. I am not sure if I've seen King Arthur flour up here, but I'll check the next time I'm in that aisle.
posted by Fizz at 10:31 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]

Is there some thing about naming your flour company after figures from English folklore?
posted by RobotHero at 10:38 AM on May 20 [18 favorites]

Our tenth pandemic bread loaf is cooling right now, which means we've got nine to go before we run out of yeast. (There have also been scones, muffins, bagels, cupcakes, banana bread, cookies, pancakes, apple pie, and a mousse.)

On multiple occasions, we've found ourselves unable to obtain bread flour, plain flour, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, or salt (!), but we've managed to lay in a reasonable supply of all of those at this point. Sugar has always been available, for some reason.

The only thing left that we have not been able to track down for love or money is yeast. Happily we had a goodly amount on hand before all this started, because we do a fair bit of bread baking.
posted by kyrademon at 10:38 AM on May 20

To help keep some of them afloat, the company has spent $30,000 so far during the pandemic paying some of its bakery customers around the country — including Empire Baking — to bake bread and donate it to local good causes. Its own bakers have been doing the same for essential workers and those in need in Norwich.

What a delightful way to make sure you keep having customers when bakeries re-open.
posted by aniola at 10:39 AM on May 20 [20 favorites]

They have an excellent recipe for challah with good advice for a newbie. My first loaf was one of the best challahs I've had (yes, including Harbors Bakery).
posted by jb at 10:41 AM on May 20 [4 favorites]

I love King Arthur's products and their website, especially because all their recipes are also given by weight in metric units, in addition to American customary volumetric units.

I know that if you expand into British/Irish recipes, and recipes written in English in general from other parts of the world, you will get recipes consistently measured in g and ml.

But sometimes I just want to bake a North American-style pumpkin pie or make pancakes or whatever, and for that I'm glad King Arthur is there!
posted by andrewesque at 10:42 AM on May 20 [8 favorites]

Last time I looked, KA was selling flour again but in smaller containers -- 3lb bags rather than 5, with a limit of 2 per customer. So, I dunno, check again?

Also, Bakers Authority has all kinds of flours, yeasts and other things, some in fairly large quantities (like, you can get a 50lb bag if you want. You can get an entire pallet if you want).

Shipping can be a bit high if you're just buying a couple of pounds, but hey, if you want a 2,500lb pallet load of flour or 24lb of yeast, they gotcha.
posted by aramaic at 10:43 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]

I've also had luck with local specialty stores that will often buy up huge quantities of flour and then repackage it for retail sale - lots of bakeries and smaller stores are doing that around here (Boston area).
posted by peacheater at 10:48 AM on May 20

Through some miracle combination of KA being the fancy flour, being somewhere with a lower population density, our supermarket handling the supply chain well, deciding to restock baking supplies in mid-February, and maybe also being close to HQ has meant that both we, personally, and our grocery store, didn't run out of the stuff, at least not that I ever saw.

We went to HQ in the fall for a nice little day trip combination of leaf-peeping and fancy foods--we hit up them and then went on to Ben and Jerry's. The cafe was lovely; we picked up one of their magazines which had a ton of tasty recipes, and a few odds and ends. I'm still working through a bag of their pasta flour blend I got, which has been amazing to work with compared to all-purpose.
posted by damayanti at 10:54 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]

How about a kingarthur and vermont tags for this post, please?

Thank you!
posted by terrapin at 10:57 AM on May 20

And speaking of cocoa powder, they also have this magnificent stuff, a cocoa powder so rich they actually tell you on the package that you need to cut it with a less intense cocoa powder when you bake.

89% pure junk; best I've ever seen. If the rest is like this, you'll be dealing on this load for two years. (I feel vindicated by the title of this video; I also thought this scene was over the top.)
posted by J.K. Seazer at 10:57 AM on May 20

also KA makes the gluten-free flour that is the goto for someone i know with pretty serious celiac disease
posted by kokaku at 10:59 AM on May 20

I am not sure if I've seen King Arthur flour up here

It isn't available in Canada, I assume for protectionist reasons. I'm not a big fan of Robin Hood though I do sometimes use it usually when I bake for other people. For better quality flour, you're in Ontario I think right Fizz, try looking for flour from the Arva Mill. I have used King Arthur, via cross border shopping, and it is interesting that it can be different then Canadian flour. The yields and the baking results can be different (sometimes slightly and sometimes a lot).
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:17 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]

I very recently bought the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion (it's highly regarded and reviewed -- nothing like those cheesy promotional cookbooks most flour companies put out, with their products in bold all-caps type), and I'm gratified to learn that they are a decent company with what sounds like a very healthy and functional corporate culture.

across Carbohydrate Camelot — the name that employees gave the 14-acre headquarters campus in Norwich, Vermont, that contains a restored farmhouse and a handful of small buildings

"Carbohydrate Camelot", heh.

I use no-name flour myself. No one's turned their nose up at my baked goods yet.
posted by orange swan at 11:18 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]

The KA recipes are really good. I've been using a ton of their sourdough discard recipes and so far I haven't had any complaints with the results although they sometimes ask for fairly specific things that I don't have lying around and just omit or substitute.

Last week there was a bag or two of flour on the shelf at my grocery store (still no yeast though) but I've been getting my flour and related dry goods from Bulk Barn. Last time I was able to get 100g of active dry yeast as well (I always add it to my order but never expect to actually get it) which is good because my wife makes these really soft rolls that use a ton of yeast and she's so far been unsuccessful at making yeast from dried raisins and apricots.

It is weird though because the grocery store always has plenty of bread and baked goods in stock but people still feel the need to bake right now.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:22 AM on May 20

Get yer yeast right here baby




(they're out of SAF red, which is my current yeast jam)

Shipping is pricy ($10) but add some flour you can't get elsewhere and it becomes much more reasonable...
posted by lalochezia at 11:39 AM on May 20

Huh, I made sourdough discard biscuits from KA's recipe yesterday and it wasn't great. It called for only one cup of flour to 8 tablespoons of butter. (My standard buttermilk biscuit calls for two cups of flour to six tablespoons butter, and it never fails me.) Now I like a buttery biscuit but this was practically inedible. My sourdough starter is pretty liquidy and my gut was telling me to add some more flour, but I decided to trust the recipe. I should have added more flour.
posted by Liesl at 11:40 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]

KAF is my fave place--I love their pizza seasoning and regularly order 6+ boxes of popover mix at a time.
posted by sperose at 11:49 AM on May 20

Flour's been out at the closest grocery store since the shelter-in-place conditions started, as has yeast - or at least they've been out at the times when I've been there. There've been alternatives like gluten free flour, or almond flour, but I don't want to buy a bunch only to find out I can't adapt it well to the things I was planning on making.

However, if any places near you that sell fresh bread or pastries are open for delivery or take-out, it's worth checking to see whether they have also started selling flour and yeast. Several near me are (including Tatte and Flour, for others in the Boston/Camberville area), and as far as I can tell, they're weighing out some of their bulk supplies into household-appropriate quantities. Buy some supplies for my soda bread and spätzle, buy some of their stuff that I currently suck at making (sourdough!), and it's a win all around.
posted by ASF Tod und Schwerkraft at 11:58 AM on May 20

Am I the first one in here to have bought a 50 lb. sack?

I happened to have replenished the pantry with 5 lb. bags of KA AP and white whole wheat in February, shortly before the run on it began, but it quickly became apparent that the clip at which I use the WWW was going to be a problem. I use it in our bread machine and I will sub it in almost anything that calls for all-purpose. I started making 50/50 AP/WWW loaves, but our supermarket kept being out of stock of the WWW week after week, I see now because King Arthur has been focusing on getting as many people AP as possible.

I saw that the foodservice supply of WWW was okay, so in mid-April, getting low, I ordered a sack of WWW from a foodservice supplier. I told myself I was channeling my great-grandmother who mail-ordered 50 lbs. of White Lily at a time because it wasn't stocked in Indiana. But admittedly, she had a whole farm to feed and I do not. So at the moment we have a truly comical amount of flour stashed in our freezers in 5 lb. increments. If you're south of Pittsburgh and short on the WWW, drop me a MeMail. I can proooooobably spare some.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:12 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]

I've always used King Arthur (#flourhipster) because I prefer unbleached flour and it was the only unbleached brand on the shelves here for years and years. But if I'm making (American) biscuits, it's White Lily flour or GTFO. I very much did a happy dance when I was able to buy White Lily in the store for the first time. And people 'round here don't seem to know what to do with it (MAKE BISCUITS) so it is generally available, even now in pandemic times.
posted by cooker girl at 12:19 PM on May 20 [6 favorites]

> However, if any places near you that sell fresh bread or pastries are open for delivery or take-out, it's worth checking to see whether they have also started selling flour and yeast.

All-purpose flour hasn't been too hard to find in local grocery stores for me. Bread flour, on the other hand has been almost non-existent. However, I was driving around last week and saw a handwritten sign in my local pizza place, I got a couple of 5LB bags of 00 bread flour for $6 each which is pretty reasonable, so that's another option.

Speaking of pizza, the KA sourdough pizza recipe works really well. For sauce, I highly recommend the Serious Eats "New York-Style" recipe, it's all I ever use. This combo will set you up real nice for pizza night, I promise.
posted by jeremias at 12:25 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]

Am I the first one in here to have bought a 50 lb. sack?

No, we went out got a 50# bag from Costco the first week of April. 6 weeks later we've given a whole bunch away to friends and still have made a 6-10 pizza crusts and like a million loves of sour dough bread. Hell, as I am typing this I can hear my wife ask Siri to set a timer for our latest batch.
posted by sideshow at 12:34 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]

Yay for King Arthur! I enjoyed reading this, and seeing my impression that KA is run/owned by decent people confirmed. Herbert, my starter, loves it. I have been using the KA I have on hand to feed him so it lasts longer and using other flour to actually bake the bread.
posted by ferret branca at 12:49 PM on May 20

I bought about ten pounds of whole wheat flour before all this began and managed to get another five pound bag a few weeks ago, but I can't seem to find any more. White flour I've got plenty of, but we use that much less. King Arthur is good stuff, but I buy it interchangeably with Dakota Mills because both of them seem to have good labor practices.

[millenials],40% of whom avoid gluten according to a 2016 survey

I don't believe this for a minute. I am not too much older than the oldest millenials and have lots of younger friends and I know exactly one who avoids gluten, and that's a person with a lifetime of health problems carefully managed in part through diet. And my extended social circle is earthy-crunchy-fussy, exactly the people who wouldn't eat gluten if there were mass avoidance going on.
posted by Frowner at 12:49 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]

Pleasant Hill Grain also has instant yeast, though in the manly size.
posted by praemunire at 12:53 PM on May 20

What a great article! I love that they're being so good to their workers; one more reason for me to like KA. And I loved the photos, too.

I've been lurking on their website for a couple of years now - I've made a bunch of their recipes, and I keep putting specialty items (including the black cocoa mentioned above) into my cart, but then never buying because the price plus shipping always seems juuuust too high to justify. So I'm thrilled they're doing well. One of these days...

I've been planning to make tuille cookies this week or next (I've always wanted to, and let's face it, I've got the time), and it seems like the recipes I've found online are pretty evenly split between using softened butter which you cream with the sugar, and melted butter which you whisk in. And - unless any of you weigh in to stop me in the next 24 hours or so - I decided to go with the melted butter version, because that's what King Arthur said. Their recipes are always super easy to follow as well (and without 5 paragraphs of "I remember visiting Naples with my grandmother when I was on a gap year... SEO filler to wade through first)

Thanks for posting this!
posted by Mchelly at 1:08 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]

I missed that weird gluten aside - it definitely suggests the author does not interact with many real-life millenials as 40% is way too high (I'm guessing the study wasn't a good sample of the overall population or something). I doubt it was close to that even during the peak of it being a fad.

Anyway, glad to hear that at least one "essential" company is treating their workers well. I can't buy KA flour here... it's hard enough to buy any flour. I was finally able to get 5kg last month after trying for 6 weeks, and it's already going down too fast. Not sure when I'll be able to get more since shelves are still very empty. Still no yeast, and other baking supplies have sometimes been tricky too. At least it gives something to look forward to (flour day was a happy day indeed).

There's been a lot of breathless articles about how bizarre it is that everyone's suddenly using flour now (often described as "hoarding" ) but it's entirely logical. People on average are eating restaurant food way less and spending way more free time at home, and some grocery stores - like mine - have had trouble keeping bread stocked consistently. It makes sense to try baking bread for that reason alone, before getting into the comforting/entertaining aspect of it.
posted by randomnity at 1:09 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]

It is weird though because the grocery store always has plenty of bread and baked goods in stock but people still feel the need to bake right now.

The upswing in baking is not just about availability of baked goods. King Arthur Flour also did very well during the 2008 recession. When times are tough a lot of people turn to baking as a comforting ritual.

Personally this worked out in my favor as I had just graduated college in 2008 and ended up working for KAF to help produce videos for their YouTube channel, store displays, and instructional DVDs. It was fantastic work (I didn't really know how lucky I was at the time) and the people there were all pretty awesome. I got to collaborate pretty closely with folks at all levels of the company, and picked up a lot of baking skills and confidence along the way.

Their 200th Anniversary Cook Book is a staple in my kitchen; just ate some leftover pizza for lunch.

Huh, I made sourdough discard biscuits from KA's recipe yesterday and it wasn't great.

Same here, tried this recipe last week! The results for me were actually pretty good crackers, but terrible biscuits.
posted by soy bean at 1:12 PM on May 20 [11 favorites]

I missed that weird gluten aside - it definitely suggests the author does not interact with many real-life millenials as 40% is way too high. I doubt it was close to that even during the peak of it being a fad.

Not only that, but it cites a survey from 4 years ago. I know we're all in weird time these days, but it's sloppy journalism.
posted by Melismata at 1:13 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]

I'm not that surprised at the flour hoarding or the influx of "clueless" bakers...

I don't think this right or even close to fair.

Baking bread was already having a little resurgence before the shutdowns, and for a lot of people there was this sense of oh yeah, there's going to be a lot more cooking going on, I should do that slightly more elaborate cooking thing I was talking about doing. For a lot of people that was "bake bread" and so hey, when they go to the store they looked for yeast and flour. And then it got hard to find and that became the story and then people who were only sort of thinking of making bread both got a reminder of "oh yeah! bread! I always wanted to try making that no knead recipie/sourdough/whatever" combined with "oh yeah! floud and yeast is hard to come by if it's there I should pick it up" and so they actually bought the stuff they needed to cook bread. And that just increases the sense that bread making is the Thing To Do when stuck at home and that's how a zeitgeist is born.

Also, I suspect part of it is for some reason yeasted bread making (and especially sourdough started bread) is more socially acceptable for men to do than other kinds of cooking.
posted by aspo at 1:13 PM on May 20 [4 favorites]

Fun article. It's basically an ad for King Arthur Flour, but... King Arthur Flour is awesome (yay for worker ownership model!) The info about how they cannot re-direct bakery flour to consumers is pretty interesting. Totally different supply chain that is basically impossible to convert in a few months it sounds like.

The uptick in home baking is one of the few sweet things about this terrible time - like seeing whole families from a range of cultural backgrounds out walking together on the usually pretty empty hiking trails where I walk the dog.

We bought a 50 pound bag from Costco - I guess the bigger volume bags are still available since bakeries are closed per the article (terrible to think about this). My wife is a baker already and has ramped up with COVID. My daughter is learning to make bread which is great.
posted by latkes at 1:24 PM on May 20

When a company is already struggling to keep up with demand and fulfill orders, they don't need an advertisement.

I'd say it's an advertisement for worker-owned businesses, and putting your product and employees ahead of greed.
posted by explosion at 1:32 PM on May 20 [9 favorites]

One thing I was curious about reading... Are they socking away a rainy day fund? They seem to be an effectively run business so I imagine so. Sounds like they are doing some smart investing in their bakery customers - keeping them afloat since they'll need them as customers later. Very canny move - the kind of thing we should be doing on the federal level (much better to keep businesses open by direct subsidy, assuming they comply with certain criteria like keeping their workers safe and employed, than letting those businesses close and having to deal with the high cost of massive unemployment later)
posted by latkes at 1:40 PM on May 20 [7 favorites]

I bake all the bread for my family. My daughter, fifteen-and-a-half, has never had store-bought bread in our house (outside of a specialty like English muffins, I don't make (in part because I don't like them, in part because I live things that are flexible)). I always figured that'd be my go-to practical skill for the zombie apocalypse...

I hadn't counted on four to be in such short supply. We have a good stock now, but are buying replacements to backfill anything we use (not quite hording, but more than 1-2 bags on the shelf). It's kept us in bread and cookies for the quarantine. We've adapted, but it took me off guard.

It has been interesting to read all the pandemic-response stories (this, Zoom, others).

(I love King Arthur, but will also share my challah and pizza dough recipes.)
posted by MrGuilt at 1:48 PM on May 20 [5 favorites]

I was so chuffed when I posted a picture of something I made with a King Arthur Flour recipe to Instagram and they commented on it!

(Grandma taught me that the recipe on the package is always the best.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:49 PM on May 20 [9 favorites]

Baker's Authority is where I got the case of yeast for the Yeast Run, so I am partially responsible for their lack of SAF Red :)
posted by tavella at 1:50 PM on May 20 [2 favorites]

Chiming back in to share awesomeness: the waffles (I’ve made three batches in two weeks!) from this recipe are superb if you enjoy the flavor of sourdough. My son froze half, refrigerated half. Shares with you that reheating frozen waffles in the toaster oven is the best way of keeping leftovers from this recipe. We haven’t tried them as pancakes yet, because...waffles!
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 2:11 PM on May 20

For better quality flour, you're in Ontario I think right Fizz, try looking for flour from the Arva Mill.

I lucked out at the start of stay-home-time and got 10kg bags shipped to my door. I'd been meaning to visit the mill for a while since it's not too far away. I've been really enjoying the stuff, I should have enough left for another month or two of pizza and loaves. I've also really gotten into yeasted pancakes too.
posted by glip at 2:18 PM on May 20

I see that Arva is out of pastry flour. Shame. I've been on the hunt for cake and pastry flour (I prefer Monarch but will resort to Robin Hood or no name when necessary) and nobody has it.

I still have AP flour--I buy the Five Roses unbleached in the large (10kg/22lb) bag because I bake and I (a single person) use flour when cooking, and I hate running out of flour, but my stash is dwindling. I'll have to see if I can pick up another bag.

Yeast, of course, is nowhere to be found. I had to have a relative mail me a packet so I could make bread for Easter. Basic white cupcake liners seem to be things of legends. I did buy a small packet of fancy coloured ones, just so I've got some on hand, but they're not my preference.

Currently, I've got way too much whipping cream in my fridge. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. I was intending on experimenting with frostings and buttercreams, but my latest experiments in sponge cake haven't warranted icing.
posted by sardonyx at 2:51 PM on May 20

I was browsing the KAF shop before RTFA, and I wondered why there was "limited edition" 3 lb bags of flour. Well, now I know! I also can't believe that I'm the only person who is marking the weekends by making pancakes and waffles. It's a nice way to break out the work/non-work days. (work breakfasts are toasted frozen Ess a Bagels which we had delivered via goldbelly earlier this month) It's now to the point that we've been buying pancake mixes (Bob's Redmill or Stonewall kitchen) because flour is running low, I have no buttermilk powder, and milk is rationed at our house.

I did make some pork lard biscuits earlier this week, but used mostly KA WWW flour, which was a bit of a mistake. They needed a finer grind flour to get all light and fluffy. Still, the nutty flour flavor goes well with the pork flavor, so I can't complain too much.

I could make more bread, but we keep our house cold and I'm kind of impatient. We've also found that a family grocer is stocking breads from a mystery bakery, with better rye, sourdough bread and brioche buns than I can make. So flour goes to other baked goods. And I just found this chocolate cake recipe, which I now want in my belly, now! And no milk needed, my saviour!
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 3:11 PM on May 20

(Grandma taught me that the recipe on the package is always the best.)

KAF's brownie recipe is a marvel of simplification. The instructions are basically, (1) preheat oven, (2) "Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl in the order in which they're written. Stir, then beat the mixture until it's smooth.", (3) dump it in a pan, and (4) Bake. The results are great.
posted by mikelieman at 3:12 PM on May 20 [6 favorites]

King Arthur Flour is the best flour there is. When the article states that it is the only flour in the same ball park as European flour, they are absolutely right. I was forced to buy another brand (because of all the reasons outlined in the article) and saw the difference in what I made. Also the recipes on the King Arthur Flour website are fantastic. With really expert commentary and descriptions with great responses to reader/baker questions. Thanks so much for posting!
posted by bluesky43 at 3:21 PM on May 20

Prompted by this ridiculous thread, I decided to try making New York Bagels during lockdown. It ... worked. It ... was easy. They were ... great. I even made them a second time to make sure it wasn't some weird beginner's luck. This was the recipe I used.

I've used that recipe too, and second that it was easy and tasted great. Though mine didn't look smooth and perfect like the pictures and instead looked like a 3 year old's play-dough project.
posted by Mchelly at 4:23 PM on May 20

If you need to round out a King Arthur order, and you don’t have one of these, grab one. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s an amazing tool.
posted by ReginaHart at 5:08 PM on May 20

If you're in east coast Amish county, go to your local Sharp Shopper to get KA flour in bulk--$20 for 50lb.

I have bought KA flour in 50lb bags for years, and just opened up a new bag today. Before the pandemic I estimate that I was baking about 175lb of flour a year (family of five, we don't buy a lot of baked goods). If things keep going like they're going this year might be more like 250-300.

I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, a Le Creuset dutch oven for the nytimes no-knead bread and variants, and a ceramic pizza stone. I'm on my third Kitchenaid. Our friends with four kids say that when the Kitchenaid can't take it any more you need to upgrade to a Bosch.

I called the KA help line once in 2010 when I forgot to put yeast in bread, realized a couple of hours later, and didn't know what to do. The answer is to mix the instant yeast with some water to make a paste and reknead that into the dough. Turned out fine.
posted by sy at 5:32 PM on May 20

I'm sure they've thought of this, but like, if there's a shortage at grocery stores and bakeries have to close, why can't they have a few bakeries pour 25/50 pound bags of flour into Ziploc bags and sell those to some of the people who can't get flour at their local supermarket? I know I've seen small markets do that sort of thing with 00 flour or other specialty flours.
posted by Easy problem of consciousness at 5:52 PM on May 20

why can't they have a few bakeries pour 25/50 pound bags of flour into Ziploc bags

Some bakeries and I imagine restaurants are doing exactly this with flour and other goods to keep food service supply chains moving. It's probably worth calling around to places near you that are open. A bagel shop near me on Cape Cod is selling repackaged 10lb bags of KAF AP and bread flour, 8oz ziploc bags of yeast, dairy, frozen fruit, sugar, even meat and local eggs; all for pickup via pre-order. If anyone is in the Upper Cape area and is interested send me a message.
posted by soy bean at 6:20 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]

why can't they have a few bakeries pour 25/50 pound bags of flour into Ziploc bags

This is the real secret right now: if you can purchase from restaurant supply, there's plenty of flour out there in 50 lb bags. The restaurants are all closed so nobody is buying it! We've been giving away KA AP to friends from the 2 50lb bags my wife impulse bought in early April. Rolling in dough, basically.
posted by dis_integration at 7:59 PM on May 20 [5 favorites]

posted by praemunire at 8:27 PM on May 20

My local Safeway's in-store bakery was selling repackaged commercial flour.
posted by ryanrs at 10:08 PM on May 20

The recipe I mentioned earlier was for self-rising flour biscuits. I had never used self-rising flour before, someone gave me a bag, and that was the first recipe I found. They practically make themselves, and I’ve never had a batch not come out perfect.

I may have told this story before, but when we were kids Mom made her famous baking powder biscuits at least once a week. People used to angle for dinner invitations just for those biscuits. We have a tendency to drop our final g’s around the house, and I had never seen the recipe written down (I’m not even sure it ever even *was* written down), so for years I wondered why I couldn’t taste the bacon in the “bacon powder biscuits.”
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:27 PM on May 20 [12 favorites]

Years ago, I was up in that area of VT and had some time to kill before an appointment, so I went to the KA factory store. Among other things, I picked up one of their sourdough starters, which I've managed to not kill, so I've been able to help out several folks who wanted starters over the past couple of months as the entire nation stress-bakes.

Definitely have some good recipes, there, on their web site.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:07 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]

why can't they have a few bakeries pour 25/50 pound bags of flour into Ziploc bags?

Oh they definitely thought of that. They are absolutely doing that here, if they can. But production wasn’t tooled up to pour small bags and then bags ran out. Our grocery stores estimated they sold 6 months of flour in 3 weeks. Bakeries and restaurants are even now still overstocked. I brought a pair of big food grade buckets with lids to my local bakery as they grind their own flour. I doubt I’ll get organic unbleached flour at that price again.
posted by lemon_icing at 6:34 AM on May 21

I bake a lot and I'm trying to balance the competing factors of "buy it when I see it" versus "don't hoard," plus "1½ dozen bagels every two weeks" versus "no pantry space." Our bagel habit alone consumes 3 kg of flour every four weeks when it's not too hot to bake, and that doesn't even count the sourdough I've been trying to do. If I had somewhere to store it I'd probably be justified in buying a 50 lb bag of bread flour, but it would still feel like hoarding to me even though the math says we'd use it before it spoiled.
posted by fedward at 7:29 AM on May 21

I love King Arthur flour and buy it when I can—they're 100% employee-owned (as mentioned), which all companies should be.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:52 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]

RE: the gluten thing. I suspect that came from a survey that asked if they had *ever* reduced their gluten intake. So that would catch lots of people who don't really know what gluten is who might have cut out bread for a month (but because they don't know what gluten is actually kept eating other things with gluten in them).
posted by atrazine at 10:04 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]

"While the crisis has also led to a yeast mania, it isn’t necessary for most baking, including bread-baking; you can opt for sourdough that relies on bacteria in the air to get a rise out of the dough."

This is mildly infuriating. Sourdough is also yeast! Yes, not the same strain or species, and yes, technically it's a symbiotic collection of yeast and bacterial strains, but yeast is a significant part of it. And "relies on bacteria in the air" is extremely handwavy. It's debatable whether the bacteria and yeast that end up in your sourdough starter are primarily captured from the actual air or are mostly what came in the flour.
posted by confluency at 11:20 AM on May 21 [6 favorites]

I love King Arthur flour and buy it when I can—they're 100% employee-owned (as mentioned), which all companies should be.

They also have a terrific bakery and coffee shop if you're ever in the area.
posted by jessamyn at 11:55 AM on May 24

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