Will Owens finds that Gold Medal and other generic supermarket flour brands seem gritty; that’s because they’re made from hard wheat. The generic stuff is fine as a thickening agent, or for dusting, but mediocre for serious baking.
For baked goods that require strong gluten content–like bread and some pastas–the hands-down favorite is King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour. It has the highest level of gluten protein of any name brand, says Nancy Berry. You can get it online, at Costco, and in some supermarkets. Here’s a list of stores that carry it.
When you want light and tender biscuits, cakes, and pie crusts, a lower gluten content is desirable, advises Nancy Berry. She recommends White Lily all purpose flour. The difference in your biscuits will be amazing. Be careful not to pick up their self-rising flour by mistake! The sacks look almost identical. It’s not available everywhere, but you can order by phone or online.
Most of the time, bleached flour is not recommended, but Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of “The Cake Bible,” takes different tack. She says, “The reason that it is essential to use bleached flour is that unbleached has particles that are smooth and round and the butter slips right through them and lands in a gummy layer at the bottom, causing the cake to fall in the center while cooling. The bleaching process, however, roughens these flour particles enabling them to hold the butter in even suspension.”
Here’s an article on choosing the best flour for the job.