Monday, July 07, 2008

White Lily baking flour leaves Tennessee

FOR generations of Southern bakers, the secret to weightless biscuits has been one simple ingredient passed from grandmother to mother to child: White Lily all-purpose flour.

Biscuit dives and high-end Southern restaurants like Watershed in Atlanta and Blackberry Farm outside Knoxville use it. Blue-ribbon winners at state fair baking contests depend on it. On food lovers’ Web sites, transplanted Southerners share tips on where to find it, and some of them returning from trips back home have been known to attract attention when airport security officers detect a suspicious white dust on their luggage.
But at the end of June, the mill, with its shiny wood floors, turquoise and red grinders and jiggling armoire-size sifters, will shut its doors. The J. M. Smucker Company, which bought the brand a year ago, has already begun producing White Lily at two plants in the Midwest, causing ripples of anxiety that Southern biscuits will never be the same.

Maribeth Badertscher, a spokeswoman for the company, said the new White Lily was the result of thorough product testing and promised that customers “won’t know the difference.” But in a blind test for The New York Times, two bakers could immediately tell the old from the new.

Read the complete story in the New York Times/ Dining.

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