Holy crap! In praise of White Lily flour

A couple of decades ago (plus a few years), I invited a total stranger to Thanksgiving dinner. This was set up by a mutual friend who said, “I wonder if you would do this for me. If you don’t Adele will be alone on Thanksgiving, and that shouldn’t happen.” So I invited Adele to share our crazy family feast.

For some reason, that year I was doing the whol Martha Stewart thing. I had new china (still have it, and it’s still glorious) and some heirloom crystal butter dishes that were round. Round butter dishes? But I had seen somewhere (despite my previous comments, this is long before anyone had ever heard of Martha Stewart) instructions for molding butter into little shapes under cold water. So I made two absolutely fabulous butter roses to go in my round butter dishes. I’ve never done it again. . .

But here’s what I remember most about that day: I walked into the dining room to see Adele, drink in hand, talking to my 7-year-old daughter. “Listen, Inger,” she said. “I am 52 years old and I’ve never been anywhere before that they shaped the butter like roses. That means that no matter how old you get, there are always new experiences to be had, and you should welcome them.”

I’m thinking about this today because I bought some new flour this week. Actually, I bought it about 10 days ago, but what with shipping and stuff, it only arrived three days ago.

Flour? Flour is flour, you say, and a few days ago I would have agreed. But those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile know that I REALLY like to cook. And this particular flour, White Lily, kept surfacing in odd places–a recipe from “The Splendid Table,” a story in the Atlantic Monthly about scones.

Now, when something repeats itself, the universe is trying to tell you something. So I shopped, and looked, and searched, and I couldn’t find White Lily flour anywhere. That only made me more determined. So I looked on the Web.

It’s a southern product, and it has mostly been distributed regionally. The company was recently bought by Smuckers, so this is probably going to change. I hope the distribution is all that changes. This is an amazing flour.

My browser hated their shop online site, I suspect because it was redirecting to Smuckers. So I sent and e-mail and said, “Help! I want to buy your flour. What can I do?” Within minutes I got and 800 number to call. I ordered three different kinds (interestingly enough, not including the one I was most interested in, probably because I was so flustered trying to do it by phone instead of by Web site).

The flour arrived three days ago. The first day, I made white cornbread, something I’d never made before. The second day I used the bread flour to make my artisanal French bread. Today I made a pie using the all-purpose flour. I think it might be the most beautiful pie I ever made. We’re about to cut into it, so we’ll see if it lives up to expectations, but I have very high hopes.

This is amazing stuff. You can feel the difference when  you touch it. It talks to fats better than any flpur I’ve ever used. It requires less water for pastry dough, so I’m confident the pastry will be tender. The bread flour is very high-gluten. You can feel the difference when you knead it.

I’m in love. I’m about to place another order, and next time I’m in town I’m going to see if I can’t get our local organic store to stock it.

For years I’ve been buying what I perceived was the best flour I could get at the market. To discover that there is something out there so far superior to anything I’ve ever touched is an eye-opener.

There’s a new experience to be had every day. Savor them.

28 Responses to “Holy crap! In praise of White Lily flour”

  1. akentuckycreation Says:

    Your blog came up on my tags. The name immediately got my attention since I am from Ky. White Lily products are fantastic. If you haven’t tried their cornmeal mix, try that also, it is heavenly. It looks like you live in Oregon. Believe it or not I am currently living in Oregon with my daughter. I have been here since August because she is having a problematic pregnancy. I started posting weekly menu plans while here since I am cooking for the family. I would be honored if you checked out my site. My cooking has a wide range of influences, but a lot of Southern recipes. I agree that White Lily is the best flour and cornmeal I have ever found.


  2. Marianne Says:

    Lee, I’m sorry you haven’t found the “great” Northwest. You don’t say what part of Oregon you’re currently in. I’m on a farm west of the Coast Range, near Newport, with 100 acres of trees and meadow, a river, lots of wildlife, and other good stuff. The only other places I’ve seen in my life that I thought were as pretty were a valley in Switzerland and a part of rural (and poverty-sunk) Arkansas. But I’ll bet Kentucky is beautiful also.

    Enjoyed your menus. They made me nostalgic. The last time I had hush puppies was somewhere in rural Georgia outside Atlanta what feels like 100 years ago.

    Hope all is going well with your daughter and that you get safely home on time.


  3. jennylitchfield Says:

    What is it that particularly makes this flour so amazing?

  4. akentuckycreation Says:

    Marianne, Ky. is beautiful. I am living on the east side of the mountains just south of the Tri-Cities. It is dessert here. I have visited the coastal side and it is beautiful. I was raised a Ky. girl and will probably always be one. Sounds like your area is wonderful. Thanks for the kind words and I hope you will pass on my site and visit often.


  5. Marianne Says:

    Jenny, I’m not a food scientist, so I can only parrot what the package says and what my fingers tell me.

    The flour is made of “soft” wheat, unlike the more common “hard” wheat that most flour is made from. And the grind is finer. My fingers told me that when I opened it. It felt almost more like cornstarch, but it clumped a bit like flour does.

    The fine grind is really imporant. My bread rose in half the time, I suppose because there was more flour surface for the yeast to interact with. The pie pastry took much less water for the same flour/fat mix. It was the tenderest crust I’ve ever eaten.

    I just know I’ll be ordering more. I’m relegating my Gold Medal to thickening gravies, browning stew meat, and so on.

  6. Marianne Says:

    Lee, I grew up in eastern Oregon (although a great deal south of where you are), so I know what you mean about the desert. But it has it’s own particular beauty as well. You have to get out and spend some time walking around it to appreciate it, I think, and it sounds as if you’ve too much on your plate for that. Best wishes.

  7. Barbara Says:

    You have me intrigued. I’ve seen the name White Lily on recipes and wondered why people specified a brand of flour. Tempting, very tempting.

  8. Marianne Says:

    Barbara, this stuff is really amazing. And it’s really different from what I know as flour.

  9. Patricia L.Lucas Says:

    My Lord, Marianne! You made all that good stuff in a big iron can with heat inside! I can’t even bake a pie without scientific apparati and a promise from God that all will turn out right!
    Don’t ever get rid of that stove or your knack for “working” it.
    If you promise me a pie like that on Thanskgiving, I might entertain the thought of visiting you and that grand old oven! Your words alone make my mouth water!

  10. Marianne Says:

    Pat, just got my second shipment of 20 pounds, assorted varieties. It’s truly a love at first touch sort of thing.

    It would be great to have you here Thanksgiving. We can provide accomodations if you reserve soon, otherwise, no guarantees (except perhaps the dreaded hideabed. . .).

  11. Lorraine Palewski Says:

    To add to your praises of White Lily products, I just want to say amen. We have moved from the Chicagoland area 9 years ag to reture in Townsend TN, just outside the Smoky Mountains Natl. Park. When meeting up with my many wonderful new neighbors I was introduced to using the White Lily Flour brand. I, too, also thought I had always used the best flour in the Chcagoland area. I was really surprised at this wonderful product. I believe it is manufactured in or near the Knoxville, Tn area. Thats about 45 miles from me. I make it a point to watch for thier products to go on sale. And, if not andI need it I get it anyway. It definitely does make a difference. I don’t even sift , I just use my wire whip and run it thru the flour to use it. Works just fine.
    I have been cooking and baking for a lot of years. We will be celebrating our 47th anniversary this month, so that gives you a clue.
    Thanks for your website.

    Lorraine Palewski

  12. Marianne Says:

    Lorraine, glad you’re enjoying things here. How lucky you are to live so close to the source. If you have an favorite recipes to share, send them along.


  13. greg Says:

    i want the 800 number to order!!! I am always desperate around the holidays for white lilly cornbread mix.

    thanks so much!

  14. Marianne Says:

    Greg, here you go:


  15. Billy Says:

    TY, TY,TY,TY I was about to lose it because I didnt see that you had published the phone number.(here’s my story)
    I grew up in east Tn. about 50 miles from knoxville (home of white lilly)
    I know live in central oregon and you cant get a decent cornmeal out here much less one that is self rising. I know this because I just spent over 2 hours going to every store in this town of 70,000+ I grew up and for the most part raised my kids on these products. I’ve live here 3 yrs and in that time I have gotten aggravated every time I have attempted to make cornbread, It never turns out right. So tonight after throwing yet another pan of ,(something that nowhere closely resembled cornbread) away it hit me what the problem was and I went on my trek to every store in town I will definately be making a phone call first thing in the morning. once again Thank you

  16. Marianne Says:

    You’re welcome, Billy, glad I could help.

  17. Lorraine Says:

    I was trying to find the online web site for white lily flour. I have been an avid fan of this product since moving down here in east TN from Illinois. It is by far the best quality flour to use. But————-the other night on our local TV station, WBIR, Knoxville, They had a story on the near future closing of the plant that makes this flour in Knoxville. 72 people will be out of work by June. I knew Smuckers bought them out but I never thought this would be an outcome. I wonder what will become of this product. Who knows, we might have to try India , China or Mexico to get this product like every other good thing we had in this country.

  18. Marianne Says:

    No! I am devastated!

  19. Faye Cornett Says:

    Will we still be able to find White Lily products if they close the Knoxville plant? I will not use other brands and do not know what to do!!!!

  20. Marianne Says:

    Faye, I guess you have to ask the Smuckers folks. The other question is, if you can still buy them, will they be the same?

  21. John Hackney Says:

    Being an employee of what was the White Lily Foods Co. I feel it is my duty to inform you that the quality of flour will not be maintained. The process of Milling flour can not be achieved by any other company in the world. Our milling process is difference and the dedication of the employees in assuring the quality of our product will be lost forever. Do not blame Smuckers for this. They as just recently purchased the Name. C. H. Guenther & Son bought the plant ten years ago. They were never interested in keeping the highest quality of baking Flour on the market. Hearing the joy of what people said about using our products which we hear even from our neighbors and letters from all over the world give all the employees at White Lily a great satisfaction of what we were able to do.

  22. Marianne Says:

    John, I’m mourning with you. I made chicken and dumplings tonight for the first time in many moons. I used White Lily four, and even though it pains me to be so vain, the dumplings were superb–light, fluffy, and wonderful.

  23. akentuckycreation Says:

    I’ve been on vacation in the west. When I return to Ky. I will try to investigate. We have the JIF plant in a nearby town, owned by Smuckers’. Maybe I can get some info. I am also saddened as I use the flour and cornmeal mix as well. They are great. I’ll keep everyone posted if I get any answers.


  24. Marianne....another one Says:

    I just ordered White Lily from the Smuckers online store. You have to buy at least in packs of 2, but you can choose whatever product you want for the pack.

  25. Southern Family Man Says:

    I am DEVASTATED! How can you eat SUCKERS without White Lily Flour Bisquits. NO MORE SMUCKERS, JIF or WHITE LILY FLOUR for me! It’s all about the root of all EVIL! The pursuit of that almighty DOLLAR. For the white collars at SUCKERS. I hope you CHOKE on your new biscuit flour with your jam!

  26. Philip Says:

    @Southern Family Man, I’ve come to the party a bit late. Just recently heard about White Lily flour only to discover that I’ll never have an opportunity to experience the real deal. That being said I’ll probably purchase some from Smuckers to see how their version of White Lily flour compares to the flours that I’m using now. Believe me I’d much rather try out White Lily milled in Knoxville, but that can’t happen, can it? Your anger and vitriol are misplaced Sir. Shame on you for cursing an innocent baker who had nothing to do with Smuckers purchasing White Lily.

  27. Torrence Says:

    Wonderful post! gud stuff..

  28. Tammy Madrid Says:

    This is a massive along with a highly interesting email check out on this great blog.

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