Published on March 20th, 2010 | by Greg0
Joy of Baking with King Arthur Flour and Beater Blades
Baking bread is a trick. It truly baffles me how a food with so few ingredients can be so persnickety, but bread manages to pull it off. When I bake bread there always seems to be a battle of wills, and more often than not the bread wins. I learn a bit every time I bake though, and one of these days I’ll conquer bread. I’ve found that using the proper ingredients helps, and having good tools makes a difference as well. This last go-round I had with bread came with a little help from the fine folks at King Arthur Flours and New Metro Design; though I’ll have to admit that while my bread was less than spectacular, I did managed to create a few other very tasty treats using all of the same equipment.
In the past Truly Obscure has tried out some interesting boxed mixes from King Arthur, with pleasing results. I decided that it was time to give their flours a shot. Before I talk about my experience with the flours I’d like to take a moment to give props to King Arthur Flours for creating a business that holds to the highest operating standards one is likely to see in corporate America. They are 100% employee owned, use only non-GMO flours, avoid use of any harsh chemicals in their products (even those that are FDA approved), and stay very involved in the betterment of their community. I’m just hugely impressed with their commitment to a quality product and have been pleased with everything I’ve tried from them.
I actually tried out four different flours: Organic White Whole Wheat Flour, Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, Unbleached Bread Flour, and Traditional 100% Whole Wheat Flour. All of these flours are available Certified Organic, and while not every flour that King Arthur Flours carries is organic, they offer it when possible. All of their flours are chemical free and non-GMO. It’s difficult to choose a favorite flour for me, but if forced I’d probably say the white whole wheat is it, all four of the flours I used were exceptional. The nutty flavor of their wheat flours gives depth to everything I used it in, perhaps most notably in pancakes. (They were requested over and over again!) The All-Purpose flour is what most people are most used to, and is the most utilitarian of all of the flours. I used the bread flour and whole wheat together in my bread attempts, resulting in a very nice flavor.
I made two batches of bread, one in a regular bread pan and one in my long covered baker, which is a clay baking dish that reproduces conditions found in a brick oven. It’s exactly the right size for a 3-cup-of-flour loaf. My only complaint with this baker is that due to it’s texture it’s difficult to grease, so my bread stuck to the walls a bit. Denser breads did better than light breads with not sticking. My crusts were nice and crisp, much more so than in the regular pan. I found it became my go-to loaf pan for peasant breads and whole grain breads. I still prefer to do my softer crust white bread in a regular pan. The covered baker is safe up to 450 degrees F, and it’s oven, microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe.
All of the flours and the long covered baker are available directly from King Arthur Flours, and the flours are also available in supermarkets in all 50 states. The flour ranges in price from $4.50 up to $8 for 5 pound bags, and most are available in smaller bags as well. The long covered baker costs $60, and if you spend a lot of time making bread is a worthwhile investment.
Now switching tracks just a bit I also got to try out a really cool gadget for my beloved KitchenAid stand mixer. New Metro Design has developed a Beater Blade for all models of KitchenAid stand mixers, as well as numerous other stand mixers. The idea here is that a spatula is incorporated into the paddle attachment, eliminating the need to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl while mixing. Anyone who uses a stand mixer on any kind of regular basis knows that there are dead spots in the bowl, and it’s absolutely necessary to stop and mix the stuff from the bottom of the bowl in from time to time. The Beater Blade effectively makes that step a thing of the past. I found that with really stiff batters it was still necessary to stop once in a while when first mixing, but that was about it. Everything else I mixed with the Beater Blade incorporated very well. Unlike the paddle attachment that comes with a KitchenAid, which is metal, the Beater Blade is plastic. It feels a little flimsy at first, but after a month of rigorous, near-daily use I’ve not had any problems with durability. The rubber on the edges holds up great, no rips or tears anywhere. It’s dishwasher safe as well, so clean-up is quite easy. The Beater Blade is available online through retailers like Amazon for around $30.