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Do You Know the Difference Between Bread Flour and All-Purpose Flour?

Published about 1 year ago • 1 min read

"Can I substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour?"

It's one of the most common questions people ask when making bread--especially beginners with a new bread machine.

Best Japanese Milk Bread Dinner Rolls made with Tangzhong and a Bread Machine (New! whole wheat variation)

Here are the facts...

All-purpose flour:

  1. A blend of hard wheat and soft wheat
  2. 10-12% protein (average is 10-11%)
  3. Available in bleached (less gluten) or unbleached ( better for bread)
  4. Results in a softer, finer texture in bread
  5. When substituted for bread flour, requires less liquid

Bread flour:

  1. Made from hard wheat (source of most protein)
  2. 12-16% (usually 14%) protein
  3. Turns out best when kneaded by machines
  4. Gluten absorbs more liquid creating a more elastic dough with a chewy and coarser texture
  5. Adds structure and strength (combine with wheat flour for a sturdier loaf)

Remember, the more protein in flour, the more gluten it contains.

So which flour is best? It depends. Ask yourself these questions.

  1. Do you want a soft texture or a chewy texture?
  2. Do you want a fine texture or a more coarse texture?
  3. Are you making a recipe that needs structure such as a free-from loaf?

Let's make it easy:

  1. If you want chewy bread for French bread, an artisan loaf, focaccia or pizza, choose bread flour.
  2. If you want soft and fluffy bread for dinner rolls or sandwich bread, all-purpose works great.
  3. If you want to incorporate whole grain flours, bread flour will help prop them up.
  4. Some recipes can go either way (like pizza dough). In other recipes, bread flour is essential, especially in bread that is free-formed and not baked in a pan.

Just this morning, I tried substituting the flour in my Tangzhong dinner roll recipe as seen above. I wanted to maintain their soft and fluffy texture while adding whole grains.

I chose the best all-purpose flour I have with 11.7 percent protein, (almost like bread flour). Then I substituted one cup of whole wheat flour for a cup of all-purpose flour. This ratio of 240 grams of AP flour + 120 grams of whole wheat flour preserved the texture but gave me more fiber along with a mild wheat flavor. Score!! (These would be delicious for a holiday meal.)

I hope you find this helpful the next time you are considering a flour substitution. One thing for sure--when it comes to yeast bread, using a different flour than specified will change the final product, but it doesn't have to be bad if you make decisions based on knowledge.

Wishing all of you a Happy Easter and a Blessed Holiday. Thank you for your interest, kindness, and sharing.

With love and appreciation,

Paula

Salad in a Jar

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