What is stone ground all purpose flour? (What brand should I buy?) I can only find whole wheat stone ground

rachel E
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6 Comments

Stephanie B. May 24, 2019
Hmm...I couldn't find anything saying that Bob's Red Mill, Hogdson's Mill, or King Arthur Flour's AP flour was stone ground. Maybe Lori T. read something I missed. There was some sifted (aka bolted) stone ground flour on breadtopia.com and smaller milling companies, but I don't think you're going to come across AP/white flour that's also stone ground very easily. I think the idea with this specific recipe is that the stone ground should have more parts of the wheat kernel that's good for the microbes, but if it's white flour most of that stuff is sifted out anyway.

My opinion on starter is to feed it with what you think you'll bake with most often. And if you're just starting your starter, try feeding it with a mix of whole grain and white flour to get it going.
 
Lori T. May 24, 2019
I can't say from personal observation, since I've not visited the mills. However, if you visit the websites for either Bob's Red Mill or Hodgkin's Mill, both state emphatically that grain is milled using stones, not rollers. As far as King Arthur, only some of their products are stone ground. The white wheat is stone ground, and can be used in many recipes much the same as an all purpose unbleached flour. It will be closer to a whole wheat in terms of liquid absorption in some cases, but for a bread that isn't usually a major problem. There are other mills which produce a stone ground AP flour, but these are the ones I know are most easily available. I've found them trustworthy and dependable in the past, and don't think they have changed.
 
Stephanie B. May 24, 2019
I stand corrected on those brands, thanks Lori. How much of a difference do you think the milling makes here? Based on the picture from the recipe, it looks like regular sifted white flour to me. I don't know why stone ground would be better than rolled if you're only keeping the endosperm either way.
 
Lori T. May 24, 2019
The major difference between stone ground flour and conventional roller milled flour has to do with particulate size- that is how big the various pieces of the grain end up being. Those of a traditional stone grind tend to have a slightly larger sized individual bits. A roller mill divides things into separate streams, bran, germ and endosperm as it grinds, where the stone grinder does not. So a whole grain flour produced by roller milling will be recombined before packaging and selling as a whole grain flour. Legally it has to be recombined in the same proportions to be sold as whole grain, if it was produced by rolling. Since a stone grinder will not separate out the parts, there is no question about having all the parts of the grain that went in coming out as entire, whole grain flour. All purpose flour produced by a roller would not need anything further done to it- it will naturally lighten color as it ages, but some companies use a bleaching agent to hurry the process along and achieve that snowy white shade we now think of as white flour. Stone ground flour would have to be sifted to remove bran and germ particles, to create white flour. Once that is done, they have the option to bleach or not. Luckily most of the mills who do stone ground flour don't tend to use chemical bleaching. Nutritionally speaking, I don't think there is a real significant difference between stone or roll ground flour. If it were me, though, and I was going to all the trouble to make bread (which I regularly do), I would use a whole grain white wheat flour. My favorite is stone ground, which I think gives me a better texture and taste- as well as the nutrition of a whole grain product. The main thing to consider for bread making, and flour selection- is the protein content, which translates to gluten development potential. A whole grain will have the highest protein content, where cake or pastry flour generally is the lowest. All purpose flour is someplace in the middle of those two- varying slightly from company to company. The lowest protein content of flour I know of is Italian type OO flour, or Type O flour. Truthfully, the yeast in a sourdough just wants to eat- and what counts for them is the starch content, not the protein. So it doesn't really matter what you use to start, feed and maintain it, so long as it is some sort of grain. For this recipe, it really does just come down to what you prefer, what you can afford, or even what you can lay your hands on. Let's face it, home baked bread most always beats the crumbs off store bought- even if you didn't have the "perfect" designated flour. If you can only keep one sort of hand, I'd opt for the best quality all purpose flour you can, and not get too frazzled about it.
 
Stephanie B. May 24, 2019
Thank you for this great answer!
 
Lori T. May 24, 2019
Stone ground is simply referring to the way the kernels of grain are crushed or ground to make them into a powder. All grain used to be milled or crushed between two stones. Now many commercial mills use metal rollers to do the job. However, you can get stone milled flour from quite a few sources which are available nationally, and a few smaller companies in your area. The most common national sources would be Bob's Red Mill, or Hodgkin Mill, and some types of King Arthur flour are as well. You should be able to find one of those, though you may need to check out a health food or natural food store. If all else fails, they all sell online, or through Amazon.
 
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