When I first started getting serious about baking artisan bread, I knew that I’d be eventually going through flour pretty quickly. So I researched various places in which I could purchase bulk flour in amounts equal to or greater than 25 lbs..
The obvious first choice to look was at the largest online retailer that we all know and… we all know… It’s tempting to go there because with Prime, there’s free shipping. But here’s the thing: The retailers jack up the price of the flour. How do you think they can ship for free?
For instance, to get a 50 lb bag of King Arthur Sir Galahad flour (the brand that is the bakery/restaurant equivalent to their retail AP flour), the cheapest I saw it was around $59.00 with free shipping. BUT I can get 25 lb. bags of KA AP flour at my local Smart & Final for less than $17.00! So you see, the online price has the shipping built into the price.
I had to learn this lesson the hard way. I purchased a 50-lb bag of KA Special Patent Flour which is similar to their bread flour. I paid $60 for that bag! And after spending that much I literally spent days poring over the ‘Web to find different sources of flour where I could either buy direct and pick up, or as in the case of Azure Standard (no, it’s not an affiliate link), the company has various “drop points” near me where their truck will stop and I can pick up my order.
For instance, a 50-lb bag Azure Standard unbleached organic bread flour is about $42. I pick it up at a drop point that’s 20 minutes from my home. So not only do I get my flour with not shipping, I’m getting certified organic flour. It’s amazing!
Mind you, it’s not that I mind paying shipping. But I do mind being misled by the whole “free shipping” bit. So if I can get my flour locally or all I have to do is drive no more than 30 minutes to pick it up, it’s a fair trade-off.
That said, I will pay for shipping if there’s a flour I just can’t get locally. One of those flours is the Hudson Cream brand by Stafford County Mills in Hudson, Kansas. Their white whole wheat flour is just a dream to work with and is milled to a super-fine consistency. It’s almost like working with bread flour! I’m not sure if they add any sprouted, malted barley to the flour for the amylase (which helps break down flour into sugars), but I get such great oven rise out of this flour. But King Arthur sources flour from this mill, so it’s definitely high-quality.
The reason I’m writing this entry is because we’re living in a world right now where there are lots of dishonest people taking advantage of the lockdown situation for their own personal gain. So take some time to do your research before you pull the trigger on flour with “free shipping.”