Failure:who’s fault is it?

I’ve been having trouble with baking here lately.  Often, things come out incredibly dense, almost as though I had forgotten to add the leavening, despite the fact that I used self-rising flour.  It was confusing, although things that used beaten eggs & butter as part of the leavening seemed to come out “okay” everything was denser than usual.

Tonight, I made a batch of biscuits.  I’ve been baking biscuits for a very long time, and using self-rising flour makes it practically fool proof.  This was the second batch I had made out of this particular bag of flour, which I had bought to replace the bag that had gotten dampened on a camping trip, as that flour didn’t seem to be rising right.

They didn’t rise at all, becoming crispy like crackers on the outside, with a layered gummy interior, exactly as if I had forgotten the baking powder.  They also have that “flat” taste indicating insufficient or entirely missing salt, something that is very peculiar for self rising flour, as I can usually taste the salt quite distinctly in biscuits made with it.  I keep both kinds of flour on hand, but I am certain…I didn’t use the wrong flour.  (Self rising is still in-the-bag, no mistaking it.)  There is only one conclusion.  Walmart’s “Great Value” self rising flour is apparently missing the self rising part, at least in this bag.  So far, I’ve been mystified over 3 cakes, a batch of muffins, and two batches of biscuits.  I can’t have suddenly forgotten how to make these things–this is all recipes I use regularly.  It can’t be the weather, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is consistently humid, winter and summer.  Short of a chemical analysis, the ONLY conclusion I can make is that this bag of flour (and maybe the one before it) are faulty, as in lacking quality and consistent ingredients.

So what am I going to do about it?

There are a number of things I can do about it, but the most logical reaction is to switch brands.  Sometimes, store brands are a good buy, other times you trade off quality for price.  This is apparently a quality versus price trade, and the logical reaction would be to switch brands.  I could also stop using self rising flour and go to adding my own leavening ingredients, something I had been doing most of my life to simplify shopping.  If so, I’m still inclined to change brands.  If the quality of the self-rising flour wasn’t sufficient to depend on, why would I buy their all purpose flour?

Sometimes, we all have failures, for whatever reason.  On other occasions, the most logical reason for failure turns out to be failure of ingredients, usually due to poor quality.  I know if I cook with rancid butter, it won’t be edible.  If I use margarine instead of butter for baking croissants, I know that won’t work.  I know if I use buttermilk instead of milk in a recipe, it needs other adjustments to go with it, and in some recipes, it just won’t work.  The same holds true for using milk instead of buttermilk.  It also does not work to substitute all purpose flour for self rising flour without adjusting accordingly.

A single failure, I would accept as my own.  We all fail on occasion.  But…repeated failures with the same characteristics of failure make me look at the ingredients, and in this case, it was leavening.  Either it wasn’t present at all, or it was not present in sufficient quantities to do the job as it should.  Hence my decision that it was faulty flour.

Now…if I could just figure out what caused the mega failure in the sausage gravy….

About giascott

Writer, blogger, cook, grandmother, mother, wife, radio personality, outdoor enthusiast, dog enthusiast, crafter, artist, and part-time nut~~I've earned a lot of t-shirts in my day! I'm one of those crazy independent women who can cut down a tree, build you a shed, sew you a dress, cook your dinner, make some soap, pitch a tent, build a fire, catch some fish, dig in the garden, chase a kid or two, write you a poem, paint you a picture, and a dozen other things...just don't ask me to sing! I'm also embarking on a relatively new portion of my life, one of being disabled. I'm learning some lessons along the way about a lot of things too.
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4 Responses to Failure:who’s fault is it?

  1. Gwen Windham says:

    The description of your experience with Wal Mart’s Self-Rising Flour sounds exactly like mine! I had bought a bag– made a couple batches of biscuits, following the exact same method I’ve used for years, only to have, like you described– flat, gummy and completely bland biscuits. So, I decided that that particular batch of flour must be bad– went to Wally World and bought another bag…. SAME thing!! And today, my Mom said that she is having the exact same problem with the bag of flour she bought last week, from a different Wal Mart. I am going to take the bag to the store tomorrow (luckily I hadn’t thrown the bag away yet) and register a complaint. I’m sure something is going on– maybe they’re bagging Plain Flour insted of Self-Rising– or maybe their leavening agent is bad?…. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one having the problem. I was beginining to wonder if I had forgotten how to make biscuits! 😉

    • giascott says:

      Oh, am I glad to hear that you had the same experience! At least I know its not something uniquely occurring with me! I actually wondered if I was storing it improperly, had too much humidity, or the 101 other things, even while I know that I was treating this bag of flour exactly like I have always done!

      It didn’t even occur to me to return it, which would at least make me feel better about the one bag–I had thrown out a bag because I thought it had gotten wet or something!

      In my case, I’m done with Walmart’s “Great Value” flour–the flour is the cheapest part of any recipe, and to have ingredients ruined by poor quality control is too disastrous in today’s economy. I’d rather pay more for dependable quality. Unfortunately, it’s going to make me doubt the quality of any basic pantry staple, especially for baking, from Walmart’s store branded product line. Saving a quarter or half dollar only to ruin ten dollars worth of ingredients is not being budget smart!

  2. Kimberly says:

    Ah! I just made 32 biscuits, using 3/4th of the bag of Great Value Self Rising Flour and the Same Thing happened to me. Since I really needed the biscuits for tomorrow and I don’t have time to go & purchase more flour, I called Walmart and the lady giggled and said, “sounds like they left something out, huh?” She was nice and said, just bring what was left of the flour back and they would refund me the purchase price. I don’t think I’ll be puyin’ GV again :p

    • giascott says:

      It’s so disappointing, isn’t it? Apparently it’s a wide-spread problem too. This has been occurring over a period of months, in flour bought in several different locations. Flour is one place we need to know that we’re getting what we’re buying, and obviously…Walmart’s store brand isn’t all its cracked up to be.

      Good luck with your boulders, Kimberly!

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