All-Purpose Flour Test: King Arthur v. White Lily

Friends, let me tell you. I am a King Arthur Baking fanatic (and have been for years). But I’ve heard a steady drumbeat about White Lily flour for almost as long, so I finally decided to give it a try.

When I do an ingredient test, I go into it with no expectations. It’s the only way to give a fair shot to contenders. I’ve been extremely surprised in the not-so-distant past with butter and egg tests, so I completely understand the importance of not giving any team home field advantage.

It was difficult, Friends. Because I do love my King Arthur Flour. BUT it’s the only way to be fair about these things.

The Method

When I started this test, I knew that I wanted to do a true head-to-head test of these two titans in the baking industry. For this test, I used two commercially-available flours that you can readily find in a grocery store. Here are the stats on each:

King Arthur All-Purpose Flour: Unbleached, unenriched, unbromated flour. 11.7% protein content. Made from hard red wheat.

White Lily: Bleached, enriched, unbromated flour. 9% protein content. Made from soft red winter wheat.

Flour Texture

When doing ingredient tests, I start simply. By looking at the products. Actually reviewing the products side-by-side. In this case, I got into it and did an unscientific texture check by rubbing each of the flours in my fingers.

To test these flours, I decided to make two different items: my Snickerdoodle Pound Cake and my BwB Snickerdoodle Cookies. The reason was simple: I wanted to test how both flours performed overall with different items.

There is a noticeable difference between the two. The White Lily flour actually feels softer between the fingers. This has everything to do with the fact that, at 9% protein, White Lily’s all-purpose flour is milled from soft red winter wheat, while King Arthur Baking’s all-purpose flour is milled from hard red wheat (and comes in at 11.7% protein).

From a pure protein (and texture) standpoint, White Lily All-Purpose flour is more consistent with King Arthur Baking’s Cake Flour. BUT this is a comparison of two companies’ all-purpose flours, so I continued with the all-purpose head-to-head.

I soldiered on.

Snickerdoodle Pound Cake

I picked the Snickerdoodle Pound Cake for this test because it’s kind of my signature. So, to test these flours in my kitchen, I wanted to make a cake that is familiar to my kitchen.

It’s also the most popular pound cake on my site, so I felt like it was a good pound cake representative.

The two batters looked the same until the addition of the flour mixture. At that point, it became clear that I was working with two very different products. The batter with the White Lily flour was noticeably looser and more silky. That was to be expected, considering that the protein content was so much lower for the White Lily flour (for more on protein content and how it impacts baked goods, take a look here!).

The bake time for each cake was quite similar: it took about 70 minutes for each one.

But that’s where the similarities ended.

The Finished Cakes

Both of the cakes came out of their pans nicely. That was to be expected, though, since I buttered and floured the pans the same way. There was no sticking whatsoever with either cake.

Why is that relevant? Because the edges on the White Lily cake were not nearly as sharp as the edges on the King Arthur cake. I’m kind of a stickler for sharp edges on bundt cakes, so this was a big deal for me.

The edges on the White Lily cake were not nearly as crisp and defined as I’m used to getting from my pound cakes. So, King Arthur was a clear winner for me here.

However, pound cakes are about more than sharp edges. Taste and texture are just as important, because…well, it’s cake!

Not surprisingly, the texture of the cakes were quite different. The White Lily cake had a looser crumb that was more delightfully crumbly. This isn’t a bad thing with cake! Indeed, it’s what I want in a layer cake.

The King Arthur cake had the tighter crumb that I want from a pound cake. This is unsurprising, since I developed the cake using King Arthur Flour in the beginning.

And here’s the side-by-side picture to show you the texture of each cake.

Honestly, there’s no wrong answer here. They are both premium flours. So, for texture, it really depends on the finished product that you want from your pound cakes.

If you’re asking me, though, I develop pound cakes to have a tighter crumb that doesn’t really crumble apart when you’re walking around with it in a napkin. (Yes, this is a real test!). So, King Arthur Flour won for me on a texture front.

…But How Did They Taste?

Of course, the ultimate arbiter of any baked good is taste. I can make a cake look pretty all day, but if it doesn’t taste good, it’s not a success.

There was a marked difference in taste! So much so that even I was shocked.

Let me start by saying that they both tasted good! But, with the White Lily cake, the flour taste was more pronounced. The mouthfeel was softer (not surprising, since the batter was so much smoother than the King Arthur batter), and reminded me more of a birthday cake than a pound cake.

Again, not a bad thing. Just not what I was going for when I developed this cake.

The King Arthur cake was as expected. Consistently delicious and tasted exactly as I wanted it to taste. The flour-y taste was noticeably absent from this cake (not that it’s super prominent in the White Lily cake, but it is there). The King Arthur cake tasted exactly as I intended this cake to taste. And that made me super happy.

Winner of the Snickerdoodle Pound Cake Battle: King Arthur

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Next up in the flour test was my favorite cookie of all time.

So, absolutely no pressure whatsoever. LOL

It was time for the snickerdoodle cookie test.

The Dough

Once again, when I mixed the dough, the White Lily dough was noticeably more loose. It was still a cookie dough, but it wasn’t nearly as stiff as the King Arthur cookie dough. This didn’t concern me, since ultimately the texture of the dough wouldn’t necessarily impact the finished texture of the cookie. But I took note!

The Bake

Again, the bake time was identical for each cookie. Five minutes on the first side, four minutes on the second side. The two batches baked equally and looked nearly identical. In fact, it was hard to tell them apart!

And Finally, the Result

Texture-wise, they were nearly identical. I love a thick, chewy snickerdoodle cookie and neither of these flours disappointed on that front. I was truly happy to see that my cookies could produce a nice chewy cookie with either flour.

Once again, though, the difference came in the taste. With the White Lily cookie, I once again tasted more flour. It wasn’t the most off-putting taste, but it did impact the taste for me.

With the King Arthur cookie, I did not notice that taste. Just pure snickerdoodle nirvana. I might be splitting hairs though…

BECAUSE…

My children positively devoured the White Lily cookies. If they tasted flour (or anything off-putting), they didn’t tell me. Of course, it’s possible that the rate at which they were inhaling the cookies means that this was a failed experiment. With the sheer speed of consumption, they might not have tasted much of anything except snickerdoodle goodness.

This was good news to me.

Winner of the Snickerdoodle Cookie Battle: King Arthur Flour

Final Thoughts

Friends, I thoroughly enjoy ingredient testing. I’m constantly in search of the absolute best ingredients I can source for my baked goods (because ingredients can make a huge difference), so it’s wonderful to be able to do these kinds of tests from time to time.

What do I think? I think you really can’t go wrong with either King Arthur or White Lily. As a baker, you have to determine which flour meets your tastes. So, if you are a die-hard White Lily fan, I say use White Lily! Many baked goods will be lighter than those baked with King Arthur, and if that serves your taste, then keep on keepin’ on with White Lily.

I am going to stick with King Arthur Flour, my favorite flour of all time at this point. I absolutely adore how easy it is to manifest recipes from my mind to a plate. There’s just nothing like finding a product that will give you consistency in a baker’s kitchen. And there’s nothing better.

So I’m staying put. BUT I have about five more things I want to test with White Lily. Biscuits, scones, pie dough…the list goes on.

Will update my findings as I do each project.

I hope you found this helpful as you go about your baking exploits this spring and summer! Whatever you choose, may you have the best bakes of your life.

See you soon!

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14 COMMENTS

  1. I use them both plus Gold Medal AP. King Arthur (AP & Bread flour) for all breads (except biscuits and quick breads)—a biscuit is not a biscuit without without White Lily (at least in the south)! You can make cakes with White Lily, too, but it’s best if your recipe is written in weight to adjust for the much lighter White Lily. Then I use Gold Medal AP bleached (yes, bleached!) for pie crusts, tarts, brownies, etc. Stella Parks gave a great explanation on Serious Eats of why Gold Medal bleached is her preferred AP flour for most baking. It’s ok for biscuits but not as good as White Lily. KA is not great at all for biscuits. Oh, and sometimes I use Swans Down cake flour for certain cakes. Clearly, do not believe there is one flour for all things! Lol ?

  2. I live in the southwest and would like to try out White Lily flour for myself . I’m an ardent King Arthur flour user for like 13 yrs now . But I’d love to try Whute Lily ?? I live here in the high altitude part of America where I think White Lily us primarily in low altitude which makes a difference I most bake goods . But I’m all in for a fun experience and learning curve in my life ????

  3. Awww… baking a pound cake in a bundt pan. Something that was never invented when pound cakes were.

    1 lb sugar
    1 lb butter
    1 lb flour
    1 lb eggs
    1⁄4 teaspoon salt

    And yes, King Arthur’s not Lily which would give you a layer cake texture instead of the iconic heavy-as-a-brick texture which neither of yours has.

  4. White Lily is what I use exclusively for biscuits and pie crust…anything flakey. I wouldn’t use it for cookies, personally. So I think you’d get a better sense of White Lily if you put it against King Arthur with biscuits.

  5. I used King Arthur Flour on my best pound cake recipe from Julia Child, and it was so dense that I threw the cake out. I haven’t purchased KA Flour since. I don’t like going through the effort of making a cake and being so disappointed. I use Bob Red Mill Pastry Flour for my cakes. I would like to try White Lily though.

  6. Hi lovely. This is Kisha from Kisha’s K’onfections – a new IG follower as of this morning. 03.11.24. I thought your laughter was what made me view your video from beginning to end; but this blog entry really shows you’re my kind of girl! You’re so transparent and detailed and it’s obvious you took out the time and shared for your viewing audience. I love that! You content gives commercial, but your personality and spirit seems truly that of a friend. Now…, about this flour comparison…THANK YOU! I must admit I cringe when Bakers refer to soft fluffy cakes as Pound Cakes. I’m like, “Please don’t confuse the upcoming generation.” If it’s “soft and fluffy”, it’s not a Pound Cake. Just refer to it as a BUNDT. I’m so with you on this…tight, dense, and moist crumb is what our grandmothers fed us. I don’t like confusing the two. lol! Although I haven’t figured the business acumen to share my insights as organized and eloquent as you, I tested White Lilly in my kitchen for my Signature Bundt Pound Cake and found the same result. It was a tender and lighter Crumb and my brain 🧠 reacted…THIS AINT POUND CAKE. You are also absolutely 💯 correct about the lingering flour taste on the palate. I’ve only used King Arthur Bread Flour for my cinnamon rolls. I really like the KA Bread product, but my WL test was up against regular Gold Medal AP, and Gold Medal won.
    Sidenote: I do like the comment the nice lady left about using White Lilly for biscuits, Pies, anything flaky…. Since I have WL hanging out in my pantry, I’ll consider making Easter Pie shells with it. ❤️ Keep being wonderful! Your sharing and caring spirit is a much needed delight!

  7. FWIW, White Lily, in their FAQ, suggests adding 1-2T of their AP flour for every cup of flour in recipes not written specifically for WL AP. This will compensate for the lower protein making for a wetter dough/flour.

    I’m a *huge* fan of White Lily Self-rising in pancakes, though I haven’t perfected biscuits yet… Just using the recipe on the WL website, the batter is pretty lumpy, and spreads out on the griddle a bit, but then cooks up super-fluffy.

    • I’m so glad that you’ve had such good experiences with White Lily! I actually prefer it now as my “cake” flour. Totally understand the manufacturer’s suggestion to add 1-2 tbsp/cup of flour, but I’ve found that I still prefer higher protein flours for pound cakes. Thank you for sharing that information! ❤️

  8. I am not as familiar with King Arthur flour as I am with White Lily. My family has used White Lily for generations- literally. Perhaps it is because most of the baked goods were biscuits, pancakes, dinner rolls, bread and layer cakes- mostly softer textured foods. I often wondered why mom and even grandma would use cheaper flour for cookies- Gold Medal. I bake now if I get any baked goods and I appreciate knowing why I saw different flours at home and a test that explains texture with the different flours. It all makes sense now.

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