The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Flavor of flour?

Vivian de Pane's picture
Vivian de Pane

Flavor of flour?


 I am returning to bread making after a long time away. The last time I baked with intent the internet had not been invented, and I am glad to see that so much knowledge about baking is being shared so freely.

 I have a question about flour, and more specifically about the flavor.

 I have made a few batches using King Arthur Organic Bread Flour and found that even as I struggled to get back into the rhythm of baking and realizing a nice crumb, the breads had an inherently delicious and wholesome flavor

 I have been making a preferment and adding that to a mix leavened with dry active yeast. I have been very pleased with the flavor.

Recently, I tired another brand of organic hard red wheat malted flour, presumably from a premium miller, with the exact same recipe. This is a type 85 flour which I expected to taste earthy and wholesome. It had great rise and open crumb but it tastes bland and flavorless. It has that unfortunate "cardboard" after taste that generic whole wheat products seem plagued with. The 0.85% ash rating seems to result from a profusion of bran rather than a complex of minerals that might contribute to flavor. My instinct is to add some honey to the recipe to mask the unremarkable flavor of the flour and provide some sort of flavor profile.

The experience has caused me to wonder, what provides the flavor I am so appreciative of when using the King Arthur Organic Bread flour? It is complex, multi dimensional, and rich, even though my recipe produces a very basic and lean dough. The bread made with that flour just tastes good. How can I quantify how it differs from some other flours?

Thank you for any ideas you can share.



clazar123's picture

One of the things I immediately thought of was that the un-named flour may have not been very fresh. It obviously was not rancid (you would have DEFINITELY tasted that) but perhaps it was just old.

Another thought I had was that the un-named flour may need a long,cold retard in order to develop more complex flavor. All flours have different characteristics and requirements. The ART of baking is determining how to get the best out of the ingredients we use.

Good luck and delicious experimenting!

Vivian de Pane's picture
Vivian de Pane


 Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

 FWIW, the new flour was processed on 09/17/2020 so it is not especially fresh but probably just about what I might expect considering the logistics of distribution.

 I am not so much concerned with what that flour is missing as much as I am curious about what makes the King Arthur Organic Bread flour seem so flavorful despite any special effort on part to discover its potential. I am just making a basic lean bread and it has a remarkable flavor.

Melbourne Park's picture
Melbourne Park

You might consider milling the flour yourself. From what I know, commercial flour has the oils removed because they go rancid. The oils contribute to the flavour. Many claim that milling one's own flour improves the flavour. Evidently self milled flour doesn't last long, a few days, but if it's in the fridge, it lasts somewhat longer. I suspect that flour bought from open shelves have had the oils removed. 

Vivian de Pane's picture
Vivian de Pane

I am hoping someone who is familiar with the flour I have expressed an interest in may be able to explain how and why it has the characteristics I have described.

I would like to better understand what components make it seem flavorful with a rich wholesome sensation.

The idea about oil seems pertinent to flour, but in this case the flour is "white" with the bran sifted out, and is listed as having "0%", or at least less than 1% fats content.

My recipe is a simple yeast water flour salt combination and the bread tastes wholesome.The preferment is 100% hydration raised over night. (12-15 hours) the dough is bulk fermented at a cool room temp for a couple hours, folded and rested for another 1-2 hours, and proofed in bread pans for another 1-2 hours. No special extended processes etc.

The effect is similar to that which you might experience if you slow cook steel cut oats and compare them to a handy pack of instant oats heated in the microwave.

The quality seems to be inherent to the flour, which thankfully seems to be available right off the shelf.

So, that is why I am curious to learn how to identify what makes this particular product seem as such.

Thank you!

clazar123's picture

Just for clarity-you are comparing the flavor of a loaf made with bread flour (essentially a white bread)  to the flavor of a loaf made with a whole wheat flour. 

Did you use the same recipe and technique/handling for both loaves? WW generally needs some different handling to yield the best loaf. Since you are new to TFL and I do not know you yet, I ask if it could it be lack of familiarity with WW?-though you speak very confidently and sound comfortable with breadbaking.

Also for clarity, I have to ask if you are someone that likes whole wheat bread? It has it's own characteristics and a good loaf will taste delicious but it will still taste like WW.

Freshly milled flour has a sweet,grassy flavor all its own. If that is an option,try milling your own.

Different crops can taste very different. Seasons are sometimes stressful on the plants and they just don't taste the same. I see this from milling my own flour from differently sourced berries. Try a different bag of flour from the same source,processed at a different time, and see if the results are any different.

Fermentation is always where the flavor develops so  I would suggest anything that enhances fermentation-cold retard, less yeast, weaker preferment, use of a biga, long autolyse. Keep experimenting and posting.


Vivian de Pane's picture
Vivian de Pane


 Thanks for the comments.

 Yes, as I mentioned above it has been the same recipe, with the handling times somewhat varied but just in response to what the dough was doing in terms of reaction times.

 Yes, I am a great fan of Whole Wheat, and have baked much more whole wheat bread than white bread, but most of that was done in the early 1980s at a 1970s style whole foods cafe that was able to survive a few more years than most.

 I must admit that I was naive, and didn't really understand that Type 85 is very much like a whole wheat flour. After reading further I suspect that the American made Type 85 I am trying has more cellulose than a similarly labeled French product, with the ash rating scale being somewhat skewed by the inclusion of both cellulose and other interesting mineral content combined in one number where as the Europeans seem interested in discounting the cellulose when enumerating the mineral content.

 In other words, I assumed that Type 85 was a high quality sifted flour with very high mineral content, I did not realize it was going to be a light duty whole wheat flour.

 Nevertheless, I am not as interested in seeming critical of the type 85 flour as I am trying to identify what has inspired the enthusiasm I have for this particular white flour.

 Having hinted at a background with whole foods, which has been a continual enthusiasm spanning 4 decades, I am very appreciative of the idea that an Organic, unbleached, un-bromated,  carefully milled and sifted flour is so widely available. It tastes wholesome and delicious. Our household gets plenty of fiber from the fresh whole plant foods that we eat routinely so I do not necessarily need the whole wheat bran to augment a gap in the diet. Delicious complex white bread seems like a luxurious indulgence, and my renewed interest in baking bread is in response to an inability to purchase such a product where we presently live.

 I am just trying to learn more about the flour.

 Thank you very much for the helpful ideas! 


MTloaf's picture

White flour just taste better and good white flour is hard to beat for eating pleasure. Terroir! Your King Arthur organic probably came from a specific field and was milled separate from the regular flours more like the superior flour in France.

Whole grain is mostly about nutrition and for me became an acquired taste.  

Vivian de Pane's picture
Vivian de Pane

Thank you for sharing your comments.

mariana's picture

Hi Vivian, 

I also noticed the difference! It's remarkable!

You can indeed quantify its difference from other flours. This flour has 0.55% ash content and is called type 55 flour. That is why is it so fragrant, makes the best white bread. It ferments better than regular white flour.  It is milled from a different part of grain actually if compared to regular white flour with ash content below 0.4% or around 0.4-0.5%. Hence comes the difference in flavor. 

You can take a look at its description on KAF website for professional bakers, where they specifically state that its classic bread flavor is due to its ash content: 

Organic Baker's Classic

12.7% Protein | .55% Ash | Malted

Milled from certified organic hard spring wheat, this flour fits the typical profile of a classic bread flour with a higher than average ash content. Has a more complex flavor and more active fermentation activity. The protein content makes it well suited for a variety of handmade or machine-made breads including hearth breads, pan breads, and Neapolitan style pizza.

Type 85 is amazing flour, but we cannot use the same recipes for it as for type 55 flour. Different ash content and flours of different extractions require different approach, otherwise bread will taste and smell either like nothing or simply nasty. It is not just because of bran, but because it has nearly all aleurone layer included which gives it a peculiar smell on top of everything. 

Vivian de Pane's picture
Vivian de Pane

Thank you for elaborating on this subject. I started reading about the aleurone layer and look forward to learning more about it.

Thank you.

Gadjowheaty's picture

Older thread but I find it interesting. Caveat is that I've never used true T85, from France.

That said, since being introduced to at least the concept of it from reading James Maguire (both his translation of Calvel, and excellent traditional pain au levain article from the Winter, 2009 issue of The Art of Eating), I've been intrigued by this flour.  I like my blend, nothing more than a best parsing using CM's Baker's Choice Plus (at 63% of total flour) with their Hi-Pro WW (at 37% of total flour) - for  pain au levain.  (I love the Baker's Choice on its own as well).

In terms of this "T85 blend." I actually prefer it to CM's branded T85, which didn't do much for me.  Reading you here mariana, it appears there's more than simple ash and protein content, which of course only makes sense.  Nothing culinary can be reduced to a couple of variables.

I wonder if I need to give the CM T85 another chance. I suspect it's a much better flour than I baked.  Very curious how others find it.  

US Flour's picture
US Flour

One of the best cake and pastry flours is "Cake Flour," which is finely milled from soft wheat varieties, resulting in a low-protein content and a fine texture ideal for tender cakes and pastries.

US Flour's picture
US Flour

Features of high-quality organic flour include:


  • Organic Certification: High-quality organic flour should be certified organic by a recognized certifying body, ensuring it has been produced without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

  • Unbleached and Unprocessed: It should be minimally processed to retain the grain's natural nutrients, flavor, and texture.

  • Fine Texture: The flour should have a fine texture, free from lumps, clumps, or impurities, indicating proper milling and processing.