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A corner in my kitchen

I first became acquainted with White Lily Flour over a quarter of a century ago when we moved to South Carolina. At the time I was teaching home economics and we had a video in the department extolling the virtues of this specially blended soft wheat flour. It is especially recommended for quick breads such as biscuits, muffins, pancakes, etc.

For a couple of years the company ran an advertising campaign about "flowers of the South". White Lily included its flour among those "flowers." As part of that campaign you could order posters for a nominal fee. I ordered this one which Rob had framed for me and it is now hanging in my kitchen.

picture of Whitelilypicture

DD Nora found me the little decorative plates on either side of the poster and made me the kitchen curtains which also have a floral theme.

picture of Pictureplates

picture of Kcurtains

Four or five years ago White Lily even sponsored a free baking seminar here in town which I attended and where I won this lovely tee shirt.

picture of Whitelilytee

Imagine my shock and surprise when I read this link on Betty's Blog and found that White Lily Flour company had moved from its southern home of over 100 years in Knoxville, Tennessee, to, of all places, Toledo, Ohio! Rob and I grew up just south of Toledo and we know the wheat in that area is not soft wheat. What were they thinking?

When we moved here to Greenville in 1984 from Michigan I had to adapt many of my recipes to compensate for the difference in the flour. The soft wheat is great for cakes and quick breads but I found for most cookies I have to use 2 Tbsps. extra flour per cup called for in the recipe to make a nice firm, chewy cookie that does not run all over the cookie sheet. (This was for recipes formulated for "northern" flours.) Now when I bake a new cookie recipe for the first time if I suspect the dough looks a little soft I will bake a test cookie to see if I need to add the additional flour to make the cookie dough the right consistency. It has saved a lot of frustration.

Have you discovered differences in baking ingredients in different areas of the country or from country to country for those who live outside the U.S.?


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12 Comments on “A corner in my kitchen”

  1. #1 Harold
    on Feb 15th, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    You are wrong about the wheat in Ohio not being soft wheat. Did you realize that most of the wheat used at the Knoxville mill was grown in the Midwest, including Ohio? Wheat produced in all parts of the country is shipped to mills in all regions of the world. What they were doing at the Knoxville mill was not that special. It can be duplicated almost anywhere in the world. It only requires raw materials and equipment. The mill where White Lilly is now being produced was a secondary supplier for the White Lilly brand for many years. It had been produced at that facility in the past few years. White Lilly Flour has been produced at several facilities and none of the “Southern Cooks” noticed the difference. I know that “Goober” and “Cooter” want to think that they were doing something that a Yankee could never copy. They need to wake up and smell the biscuits.

  2. #2 Becka
    on Feb 16th, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Well, Harold, you may be right that the mills can duplicate the White Lily Flour all over the world, but I know from experience that the flours here in SC (even national brands like Pillsbury and General Mills) are different than the flours in Ohio and MI. Perhaps the mills formulate the flour differently depending on the region where they plan to send it. I also know that biscuits are an art form here in the South. :<)

  3. #3 Harold
    on Feb 16th, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Well, Becka, I know from experience that the national brands like Pillsbury and General Mills do not even mill all of their own flour. There is no way to even tell if the flour you are buying off the shelf is even made by the company that is putting it’s brand name on the bag. The flour milling business is not as regional as it was even 10 years ago. The mill that is presently making White Lilly flour sells flour to both General Mills and Pillsbury. So I really doubt that the flours in South Carolina are different than the flour from Ohio. Unless the flour is produced at a regional mill you may be getting flour from Ohio or Michigan or Illinois or Virginia or, God forbid, some Yankee state like Nebraska.

  4. #4 Becka
    on Feb 16th, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Perhaps things have changed in the last ten years, but I know in the past that the all-purpose flour I can get here in South Carolina did not work as well for certain products as the all-purpose flour I purchased in MI and Ohio. I have also noticed a difference in using the flour in France when we have been visiting there. Because of past problems with yeast breads and even some coffee cakes that didn’t rise well I have found that bread flour works better down here. When we lived up in MI all-purpose flour worked just fine in the same recipes. I know of others who have moved here who have faced the same problems in the past. Perhaps I will have to do some experimenting with some of the local all purpose flour again to see if I can detect a difference in the protein content now–I just hate to take a chance, especially since prices on most baking supplies have increased.

  5. #5 Sharon
    on Feb 17th, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Becka, I moved to PA six years ago and had trouble adjusting recipes. I, too, was told that flour wasn’t the same everywhere, so ….. I’d have to agree with you. I see Harold’s point that flour can be duplicated anywhere, but I think I’d have to say that I think you’re right that they must ship products to different places depending on what’s in it. Maybe they don’t do that anymore. Like you said, maybe it’s only in the past, but at one time there WAS a difference. As for White Lily moving, I think it’s a shame they moved to the North when they were such a specifically South company. But, let’s look at the bright side – they stayed in the USA and didn’t move to Mexico, India, or China. 🙂

    Guess you could always try to ask companies before you experiment. They MAY actually tell you the truth (who knows these days).

    Have you ever tried grinding your own flour? I buy Prairie Gold from Wheat Montana and grind my own (need a better grinder, though – I have the KitchenAid attachment, and it’s not the best).

    Love your blog:)

  6. #6 Tawnja
    on Feb 17th, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    When I lived in Ivory Coast, Africa, the white sugar there was much coarser than the white sugar in the US. It definitely made a difference in the texture of bar cookies and other baked items. I don’t think the sugar was locally grown or processed, but I can’t remember where it did come from.

  7. #7 Sharon
    on Feb 17th, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Check out this article; very interesting.

    By the way, your kitchen is beautiful.

  8. #8 Becka
    on Feb 17th, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    I have never tried grinding my own wheat. I have used freshly ground wheat that friends have given me and it is wonderful. I just think that at this stage of life I probably wouldn’t want to invest in a wheat grinder. I have a friend who grinds popcorn to make her own cornmeal.
    I’m glad you have enjoyed the blog. I appreciate your kind comments.

  9. #9 Becka
    on Feb 17th, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Sharon, that article was the link on Betty’s blog that I mentioned.
    My daughter, Nora, was an interior decorating major and she helped me choose things for the kitchen. I am the type who agonizes over decorating decisions. We have lived here almost five years and I have just finally decided what I want to do with our bathroom!

  10. #10 Laurie Chittenden
    on Mar 22nd, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Becka, I have the same poster framed plus I have another White Lily Flour poster. It is called “Prized Lilies”. It shows different varieties of lilies including the White Lily Flour.

  11. #11 Sandy Webb
    on Sep 25th, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    I have been looking for one or more of the White Lily Flour
    Nativ of the South posters for a long time–where did you
    order yours from? Hope they still have them! Thanks.

  12. #12 Becka
    on Sep 25th, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    I ordered it many years ago from a magazine advertisement. It’s probably been at least fifteen years. Someone else linked to my blog a while back and when I read her post it mentioned that she had found one on e-bay. You might try the White Lily Corporation itself. Good luck in your search!

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