Bread Flour vs All-Purpose Flour


How well do you know about pastry? Well, the much you know makes it

How well do you know about pastry? Well, the much you know makes it exciting when you go shopping for flour. On the flip side, lack of the right information sends shivers down your spine every time you walk down the supermarket aisle, looking for flours. There are dozens of flours, and you can easily make a regretful mistake. Talking of flours and their sibling rivalry, bread flour vs all-purpose flour is the mother of all battles. First of all, these two are common in almost every household. However, they have a fair share of their differences, and it helps to know them.

In this post, we are going to make it rain flour. We are telling you about two types of flours that you may already have on your kitchen shelves. Afterward, you get to know about bread and all-purpose in close quarters. Finally, we take you through a detailed comparison of the two. Does that feel like what you need to improve your pastry bank of knowledge? Keep reading.

Know Your Bread Flour

Any type of baking requires a specific kind of flour, and so it is with baking bread. Bread flour is manufactured explicitly for the preparation of yeast bread. 

It is made from hard wheat, which also gives it the name strong flour. The flour has a high protein content of 12% to 14%, making it ideal for baking yeast bread. Consequently, the high protein content in the flour automatically warrants for high gluten levels. The high gluten levels help in making the dough lighter and elastic. This results from the two proteins in gluten, which are glutenin and gliadin. Glutenin does the work of making the dough elastic, while gliadin makes the dough widespread. This, in turn, makes your baked foods quite airy as well as chewable. A significant feature of bread flour is that it requires much more kneading than the other types of flours.

Bread Flour vs All-Purpose Flour
A Chef Kneading Bread Flour

Commercial Production 

Bread flour basically comes from red hard wheat.  From the flour mill, it usually has varying particle sizes or protein levels depending on the specifi

Bread flour comes from hard red wheat. The flour mill usually has varying particle sizes or protein levels depending on the specifications of commercial bakers. 

Notably, the flour ash content is the measure of the flour’s refinement. If the ash content is low, it’s an indication that the flour is highly refined. If it’s high on the other hand, then the flour isn’t quite refined. 

There are several types of bread flour that you will come across at your favorite store. They vary in protein level and blend as well. Some come from hard winter wheat, spring wheat, or a blend of both. Furthermore, bread flour is available in both bleached and unbleached forms. 

Origin 

Joseph Lee invented bread flour in Boston in1902. However, it does not mean that there was no bread before the invention.

Nutrition Value

Bread flour has quite a significant amount of nutritional elements. A single cup of bread flour contains 1.22g fat, 455 calories, 12.91g protein, and 95.3g carbs. 

Bread Flour Recipe

Bread flour is best in baking pretzel bites, dinner rolls, bagels, cinnamon rolls, and sourdough bread. 

And there you have your bread flour vs all-purpose flour comparative analysis. Does this enrich your knowledge for flours? Let us know in the comment section.

How to Prepare Bread Flour Substitute 

If you run out of bread flour while preparing one of its many recipes, you could spare yourself a trip to the store by preparing yourself. You can use all-purpose flour in place of bread flour for your bread flour recipes. Still, it’s usually challenging to find a perfect substitute for bread flour because most types of flour lack enough protein needed for baking bread. 

The vital wheat gluten in bread flour can be found on the baking aisle at the supermarket. This mixed with all-purpose flour works as a perfect substitute for bread flour. The purpose of wheat gluten is to enhance the protein level of all-purpose flour, which normally is at 8% to 11%. Note that you should not use other types of flour like cake or pastry flour as a substitute for bread flour. 

Preparation Procedure

Get one cup of all-purpose flour or an equivalent of 129g and mix it with 1 ½ teaspoon of vital white gluten. First, put the all-purpose flour in a bowl and then scoop 1 ½ of flour that you will replace with the same amount of vital white gluten. Finally, whisk the two to mix. 

Know Your All-purpose Flour

As the name suggests, this type of flour takes care of almost all your baking needs in the kitchen. Mostly, it’s that type of flour you will have in your kitchen and be sure of never going wrong in any of your baking recipes. 

It is made from wheat grains without germ and bran. This elimination process removes most of the nutrients, leaving it with a protein content of 9% to 11%. Bran and germ increase the oil levels of flour, which in turn shortens its life span. All-purpose flour tends to have a longer life span because of the absence of germ and bran. With the average protein levels, AP flour also has an average gluten content, hence giving its foods a good structure. Furthermore, the flour is white and soft. All-purpose flour is usually enhanced with minerals and vitamins to make it up for the lack of bran and germ.

Bread Flour vs All-Purpose Flour
A Spoonful of All-Purpose Flour

Origin 

Originally, all-purpose flour comes from the Southern part of the United States. Later, it spread to the North and the rest of the world. 

Commercial Manufacturing of All-Purpose Flour 

AP flour can be processed from hard wheat or a blend of hard and soft flour. Here are the steps to the making of AP flour;

  • Milling wheat grains to separate the endosperm from the germ and bran
  • Bleaching the flour if it’s not to be left for natural aging
  • Enrichment with minerals and vitamins such as thiamine and folic acid 

Nutritional Value

The nutrients in all-purpose flour include 10g protein, 3.3g fiber, 76.67carbs, 33mg calcium, and 133mg potassium. 

All-Purpose Flour Recipes 

All-purpose flour comes in handy in preparation of cakes, cookies, muffins, pie crust, and pastries. The flour is a blend of both soft and hard flour, a characteristic that makes it hard enough for baking bread and also soft for cake baking. 

How to prepare all-purpose flour 

If you can’t find all-purpose flour in your pantry, you don’t have to rush to the grocery store because you can always get a substitute. Cake flour and bread flours make great substitutes for all-purpose flour. 

For the general-purpose, you can substitute all-purpose flour with 60g of cake flour mixed with 70 grams of bread flour. For the preparation of pastries, cakes, and pies, it can be substituted with 130g of cake flour per serving. Moreover, in preparation of bread, pizza, and rolls, you can substitute all-purpose flour with 130g of bread flour. It is advisable to use a weighing scale during substitution other than using a measuring cup. This is because they both have different weights, and you could add more of the substitute flour. 

Bread Flour vs All-purpose Flour 

The bread flour vs all-purpose flour showdown is evident in several characteristics;

Protein Content 

One of the differences between bread flour and all-purpose flour is their protein content. As you already know, bread flour has a protein content higher than that of its AP flour. Bread flour contains 12% to 14% of protein, while the all-purpose flour includes 9% to 11% of protein. Bread flour has more protein necessary for a high gluten network to make bread dough elastic and airy. On the other hand, all-purpose flour has low levels of gluten due to average protein levels. 

Uses 

All-purpose flour is quite versatile and is useful in the preparation of most of your baking recipes. You can use it to prepare cakes, bread rolls, muffins, noodles, pancakes, pastries, and cookies. On the other hand, bread flour is limited in use since it’s specifically meant for cooking bread and pizza recipes. 

Production 

All-purpose flour is a blend of two wheat types. It’s a mixture of both low and high gluten wheat varieties. On the other hand, bread flour is made from hard wheat. Depending on the manufacturer, other grains like barley and rye are added into bread flour production. 

Structure 

With the high gluten levels, bread flour foods tend to have quite a stable structure. This is contrary to those prepared from AP flour that tends to be spongy and soft. Note that despite having a stable structure, bread flour foods are also airy and easily chewable. 

Nutritional Value 

Also known as the plain flour, all-purpose flour contains low levels of protein. On the other side, bread flour has high levels of protein content. 

Price 

Due to the difference in gluten levels, these types of flour vary in prices as well. Bread flour is usually more expensive than the all-purpose flour because it has higher gluten content. 

Rising Capability 

Bread flour enhances dough rising more than AP flour. This is because of the former’s enhanced ability in liquid absorption that causes the dough to spread upward. Moreover, foods made from brown flour have a rich color crust due to the high gluten levels. On the other hand, AP flour foods tend to be lighter in color because of less gluten.

How to Store your Flour Properly 

Most consumers think that flour is a shelf food that doesn’t have an expiry date. As a result, they don’t know how to store flour properly hence attracting bugs and weevils. The steps highlighted below should help you a big deal in prolonging your flour’s life span. Note that this procedure is applicable in all types of refined flours and not only the bread and all-purpose types of flour. 

  • Put your flour in the freezer for about 48 hours. This will be enough to kill any invasive insects or eggs that may be present. 
  • Avoid tucking your bag of flour at a corner in your kitchen. Once you get it out of the freezer, you should put the flour in a container, either plastic or glass. Make sure that the container has a tight lid. This will help in preventing the flour from absorbing moisture from outside and insects from getting inside. Moreover, odors from other foods could reduce the flour’s lifespan hence the importance of sealing the container. 
  • Place the container on a dry surface away from direct sunlight.

Measure your Flour Properly 

Most of your recipes end up more dry and crumbly than you expected because of failing to use the correct measurements. It’s essential to use an exact amount of flour on baking recipes. The key to having the correct measurements is using a weighing scale always. 

Note that scooping the flour directly from the bag with your measuring cup ends up with more flour than necessary. For instance, a cup of all-purpose flour is supposed to weigh 125g. If you measure your all-purpose flour by directly scooping the flour with your measuring cup you will end up with 150g. This leaves you with an excess of 20% of the required flour, and that spoils your recipe.

Last Word

The bread flour vs all-purpose flour rivalry mostly leans towards their protein levels. It is the protein content that brings a whole difference in the characteristics of these two flours. However, both can step in for each other, albeit with a little modification. Additionally, before starting to bake some recipe, it’s always important to determine the texture and gluten levels you require for your recipe. This will help you determine the type of flour you need and know if a substitute will do. 

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