Few things in life can compare to the smell of freshly baked bread. But have you ever wondered what kind of flour is used to make that perfect loaf?
Enter bread flour, a special type of flour that is designed for making bread. With its high protein content and gluten strength, bread flour is the go-to choice for bakers who want to create a lofty, chewy, and delicious bread that rises to perfection.
In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about bread flour, from its characteristics and uses to its nutritional value and storage tips. Let’s go!
What is bread flour?
Bread flour is a type of enriched flour that is high in protein, specifically gluten, which makes it ideal for baking bread. The higher protein content in bread flour provides strength to the dough, helping it to rise and hold its shape during baking.
It’s made commercially by milling hard wheat varieties that have a higher protein content than soft wheat varieties used for all-purpose flour. The wheat is first cleaned and tempered, which means it is allowed to rest in water to soften the outer layer of the grain. Then, it is ground into flour using a roller mill or stone grinding.
Bread flour comes in white and whole-wheat varieties, and some commercial manufacturers may also add additional vital wheat gluten to further strengthen the flour.
What’s the difference between bread flour and regular flour?
The main difference between bread flour and regular all-purpose flour is the protein content. Bread flour typically has a protein content of around 12-14%, while all-purpose flour usually has a protein content of around 10-12%.
The higher protein content in bread flour allows it to form strong gluten networks when mixed with water and kneaded, which helps give bread its structure and chewy texture.
On the other hand, all-purpose flour is more versatile and can be used in a variety of baked goods, including cakes, cookies, and pastries – yielding a more tender and crumbly texture.
Benefits of bread flour
The major benefit of bread flour is its higher protein content which allows for better gluten development. This makes it ideal for making yeast bread, sourdough bread, and other baked goods that require a strong gluten network to rise properly.
Using bread flour not only helps the dough rise consistently and form a uniform texture, but also allows the dough to withstand longer fermentation times, leading to better tasting bread!
Additionally, bread flour can handle more hydration than all-purpose flour, resulting in a more open and airy crumb.
Finally, bread flour is a good source of essential nutrients, such as iron and B vitamins!
Bread flour nutrition facts
|Flour (¼ cup)||Calories||Carbs||Fiber||Sugar||Fat||Protein||Glycemic Index|
|Bread flour||130||26 g||1 g||0 g||0.5 g||5 g||90|
|All-purpose flour||120||24 g||1 g||0 g||0.5 g||4 g||85|
How to bake with bread flour
Bread flour is best used in recipes with yeast, such as bread, pizza dough, bagels, and any other baked goods that require a chewy and elastic texture.
When using bread flour, it’s important to knead the dough well to develop the gluten properly. You can also let the dough rest and rise for longer to allow for better flavor development.
You can also use bread flour for things other than bread! It can be used to make homemade pasta, which will be chewier than pasta made with regular flour, or in some cakes, giving them a denser, more substantial texture.
You can substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour using a 1:1 ratio in some recipes, but keep in mind that bread flour’s higher protein content helps it to absorb more water, which can make some recipes too tough or chewy. It’s best to use bread flour in recipes that specifically call for it.
Popular bread flour baked goods and dishes
Here are the most popular uses for bread flour:
- Bread (loaves, baguettes, rolls, etc.)
- Pizza dough and crusts
- Cinnamon rolls
- Yorkshire pudding
How to make bread flour at home
In a small bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour and vital wheat gluten until well combined. Use the bread flour immediately in your recipe or save for later!
Keep in mind that while this homemade bread flour substitute may not be exactly the same as store-bought bread flour, it should work well in most bread recipes.
How to store bread flour
For store-bought bread flour, I recommend keeping it in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat. Bread flour lasts for about 6 months in your pantry.
If you’re making your own bread flour by combining all-purpose flour with vital wheat gluten, I suggest storing it in an airtight container and labeling it with the date and contents to keep track of its freshness. Store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat, and use it within a few weeks for the best results.
What are the best substitutes for bread flour?
Of course, bread flour is ideal for bread making but you don’t NEED it to make bread. Semolina flour and durum flour are both types of wheat flour that are commonly used in pasta making, but they can also be great substitutes for bread flour in some bread recipes due to their high protein content.
All-purpose flour is the closest in flavor to bread flour. You can also use whole-wheat flour for a healthier option. This will make denser, less airy loaf. Or you can use a combination of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour in equal parts as a substitute.
Yes, you can substitute regular flour for bread flour in a recipe, although the texture and rise of the bread may be slightly different.
Using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour may result in a denser and chewier texture in baked goods, as bread flour has a higher protein content and more gluten-forming capability than all-purpose flour.
To convert all-purpose flour to bread flour, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of vital wheat gluten per cup of all-purpose flour to increase its protein content and make it more suitable for bread baking.