I know, that’s a no-shit-Sherlock statement. Obviously, you can’t make bread without it. But there’s more to that statement than just the ingredient itself.
For dietary concerns, I’ve recently started incorporating more whole grain into my dough and I’m really looking to eventually move entirely to whole grain bread. I’ve made some loaves with nominal success with varying blends of bread and whole wheat flour. I’m blending mainly because of the crumb. 100% whole wheat dough, unless it’s worked for a long time or up above 90% hydration, just doesn’t rise that much – even with helpers like vital wheat gluten or psyllium fiber. Those provide a little help with oven spring and rising, but you just won’t get that wide crumb.
Enter white whole wheat flour.
From what I’ve been able to gather in my research, white whole wheat flour will get me that wide crumb. Granted, I still have to ferment it a long time and work it more than regular bread flour, but it apparently works great. Furthermore, by law, whole grain flour cannot have any GMOs in it and that’s a big concern for me and actually, a big reason why I’m moving to whole grain flour (or making sure I’m using flour produced by a company that ensures their flour is non-GMO certified, like King Arthur).
Given that, I’ve spent the last few days researching different brands.
And this is where I’ve gotten into a bit of a conundrum. Brands like King Arthur or Bob’s Mill tend to be a bit pricey – even with free shipping with Amazon Prime. Others, like Stafford County Flour Mills Hudson Cream Whole Wheat flour, are exceptionally reasonably priced, but shipping is expensive. For instance, a 50-pound bag of their Hudson Cream Whole Wheat is only $12.60 direct. But shipping is $48! See what I mean? Now that’s comparably priced to King Arthur with “free” shipping from Amazon, so I don’t feel too bad about the total price.
On the other hand, I found a great flour called Kansas Diamond White Whole Wheat flour. It has gotten great reviews. But it is produced by Archer Daniels Midland, which is a HUGE agriculture conglomerate on the scale of ConAgra – get the picture? No, I’m not looking at them as the evil empire, but for me at least, I think it’s important to support independent producers; especially independent farms and farmers of which there are fewer and fewer as time passes.
And speaking of Amazon… as of late, I’ve really been doing my best to NOT buy from Amazon. We’ve all heard the tales of their business practices and how they treat their employees, and let’s face it: Jeff Bezos is a wealth-hoarder. I have some serious issues giving my financial support to someone who has so much, but shares so little.
Circling back to the title of this post, I am of the conviction that it’s important to know where your ingredients come from – or at least as much can be known. And I think it’s essential to provide direct support for the small, independent businesses that are quickly being gobbled up by the big corporate machine. Small businesses and the people who work and run them are the salt of the earth. For this writer at least, I want to make sure my life is seasoned with them!