Bread Making: Introduction to Basic Flours

girlHeather says:

The first few bread recipes will be made with flours that should be carried by your local grocery store.

  • All Purpose Flour – is also known as plain flour.  It can be found in bleached and unbleached varieties.  Unbleached flour has more of the wheat’s protein intact and is typically better for bread making.   Bleached flour has been chemically treated to speed processing, it is best for those instances where toughness or chewiness is undesirable: pie crust, muffins, etc.  All purpose flour is a blend of both soft and hard wheat. Different brands may use different ratios of the two.
  • Bread flour – has a higher gluten, or protein, content than all purpose or pastry flours; the structure provided by the protein make it a good choice for baking products made with yeast.  It is made from hard  wheat.
  • Whole Wheat Flour – unlike white flours, whole wheat flour uses the whole wheat kernel (surprised?).  While whole wheat flour has a lot more fiber and is generally much healthier, ounce for ounce it does not have the same protein content as bread or all purpose flour.  When making breads, it is common to use bread or all purpose flour to create the structure necessary to trap the carbon dioxide created by the yeast to give the bread an appealing amount of loft.  Whole wheat flour can go rancid, store it in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for the longest shelf life.


  1. Fawn on January 24, 2008 at 3:11 am

    If any of your readers are Canadian like me, they might find it handy to know that U.S. “All-purpose” flour is not the same as Canadian “All-purpose” flour.

    In my bread machine instructions, it specifies that in the U.S. one must use bread flour for the recipes to be successful. In Canada, we are told, use all-purpose in the bread machine.

    I don’t know the actual makeup of our all-purpose flour, but it might be useful to know that there is a difference from one side of the border to the other.

  2. Makeshift Mama on January 23, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    I have never used bleached flour for my pie crusts and they always turn out fabulous! My mother-in-law passed down a great recipe, I guess. Anyway, I’d rather avoid bleach.

  3. Margaret on January 23, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    I can’t be bothered to keep 2 different kinds of white flour in my canisters, so I just use unbleached all around. But I have also been learning to make pie crusts. My question is: do you think the difference in flour is significant enough to keep all purpose bleached on hand?? If you do, how do you manage this storage?

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