Trader Joe's certainly caused quite a hubbub when they decided to stop carrying King Arthur Flour and switch over to a store brand. We saw the new Trader Joe's all-purpose flour on the shelves for the first time this past weekend and picked up a bag. Time to put it to the test!
Reading the packaging information, we have to say that this flour looks promising. The flour is unbleached, which we prefer. Nothing too scary on the ingredient list.
We were surprised to notice that this flour is listed as having four grams of protein per 1/4 cup (about 13.3%), which actually puts it above King Arthur Flour in terms of protein content (which has a protein content of about 3g per 1/4 cup or 11.7%). Protein content tells you a bit about how easily you'll form gluten using this flour, and four grams in this flour means that it will form gluten very easily indeed. Since high-protein bread flour is typically between 4.5 and 6 grams of protein, this is definitely at the upper end of the range for what can be considered all-purpose.
For this first test run, we decided to make a batch of no-knead bread following the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes technique. Since there's no kneading involved, we sometimes have trouble getting enough gluten to really set the crumb of this bread if we use a lower-protein flour like Gold Medal. King Arthur has served us well in the past.
The initial mixing and rising went smoothly. The flour became quickly hydrated and the consistency of the dough as we mixed it felt normal. We baked one loaf right away and stored the rest of the dough in the refrigerator to bake another day.
The loaf we baked right away turned out very well. The crust set up beautifully with an even golden-brown color. The interior crumb was fully set, even in the middle (which has a tendency to sag with this no-knead bread and then tear when cut). The bread tasted mild and even slightly sweet. There were no off flavors that we could detect.
The second loaf, baked a few days later, was even better. The time in the refrigerator helped bring out more of that sweet flavor as enzymes broke the starches down into sugar, and the crumb was nicely tight.
All in all, we think this first test of the Trader Joe's flour was a success. We were happy with both loaves and think that this flour will be a good choice for breads in the future. We're curious to see how it does with quick breads, cookies, and other baked goods where a lot of gluten formation isn't quite as desirable. We'll let you know what we find!
Have you tried the new Trader Joe's all-purpose flour yet? What do you think?
(Images: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)