I found french flour cheaper than KAF. It is from france, Normandy, to be exact.Is french flour just flour that is from France, or as I thought, is a particular grind, or what?KAF ends up being the better deal, because shipping is outrageous!
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There are all kinds of French flour, as you surmise. All different protein levels, different grinds, different types of wheat... King Arthur's French-style flour mimics the flour most commonly used by bakers in French bakeries: a medium protein (11.5%), high ash flour. It's closest to what they call "type 55" in France, which is the standard baking flour - their equivalent to our all-purpose flour.
If you buy it in small bags, almost any flour is going to be more expensive.
Out of curiosity, who's the supplier of your Normandy flour?
There was another American company (B&D Flour) selling what they claimed was a close approximation to French #55 flour, but with shipping it got pretty pricey even in 25 pound quantities. It also appears they have shifted their focus to baked products rather than flour.
The name is L' Epicurie. For T55 they want 11.80 for 8.8 lbs, which is a great price, but shipping is 15.00! I really don't know what flour to buy. They have many different nombers, T80,T55, T45, etc. For a newbie it is difficult to know what to buy.
Thanks for the reference, I've bookmarked that site to explore their other products at length. (Looks DANGEROUS to my budget!)
In one of Julia Child's books she goes into all the testing she did trying to come up with a satisfactorily 'French' bread for Volume 2 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
In the end, she decided that most brands of AP flour were generally good enough.
I've done a fair amount of experimenting myself, and I find that the process (multiple rises with full deflation in between) is a bit more important than the precise blend of flour. It takes 3-4 hours before the dough really changes character. There's a pretty good illustration of that in this KAF blog article:
Their business is actually called L'Epicerie. It's great flour. No combination of American flour is equivalent. It's a completely different substance. Cheap, it is not, but there is nothing else like it.
Mike, did you ever get a chance to play around with any of this flour? Just wondering what YOUR take on it was. Is it really the be-all and end-all of flours for French bread?