Both bread flour and all-purpose flour are made from wheat. However, the two flours have very different characteristics. Understanding these differences will help you choose the right one for your recipe. Bread flour is made from hard red wheat and has a higher protein content than regular all-purpose flour. It is also more highly refined than regular all-purpose flour, which has larger chunks of bran and other fiber-rich substances. Because of these properties, bread flour is commonly used to make breads, rolls, bagels, biscuits and other baked goods that require a higher protein content than an all-purpose flour would provide.
What is All Purpose Flour?
All-purpose flour is made from a blend of hard red wheat and softer red wheat, along with malted barley flour, sesame seeds and other seeds, and germ (the embryo) of the wheat. The process of making all-purpose flour uses the whole grain of wheat, which is why it is often referred to as “whole-wheat flour.” All-purpose flour can be used as the base for many baked goods, such as cakes, pastries, muffins, crumpets, scones and cookies.
It can even be used when making pizza, which calls for a higher protein content than cake or pastries might. All-purpose flour can be used in place of cake flour in most recipes, with one important exception: The leavening agents in cake flour react with acidic ingredients, such as lemons, limes and other citrus fruits, in a very different way than they do with other ingredients. If you plan to use any of these ingredients in a recipe, it is best to use cake flour instead.
What Is All-Purpose Flour?
All-purpose flour is made from a blend of hard and soft red wheat, along with other seeds, malt, and yeast. The source of the wheat for this flour is important, as it affects the end product. Hard red wheat is the most optimal source for producing flour, so all-purpose flour is made from a blend of hard red wheat and softer red wheat.
The soft red wheat is what gives all-purpose flour its elasticity and strength, so it’s perfect for pizza dough, pasta dough, biscuits and other items that require elasticity. The other ingredients are also important and affect the final product. Yeast is a natural microorganism present in the wheat, and when combined with the other ingredients, it causes the flour to rise during baking.
Differences Between Bread Flour and All-Purpose Flour
– Protein Content: Bread flour has a high protein content, which helps to make gluten in the dough. The ideal ratio for making good bread is 90% protein and 10% gluten. All-purpose flour does not contain as much protein, which makes it perfect for items such as cookies, pancakes and muffins that don’t contain gluten.
– Fat Content: Most flours contain fat from the germ of the wheat and from the seeds. All-purpose flour has a much lower fat content than bread flour; most all-purpose flour is around 3.5-4% fat.
– Sulfur Content: Bread flour contains sulfur, which gives it a distinct flavor and aroma that is not present in all-purpose flour.
– Taste: All-purpose flour can be used in place of wheat germ in recipes that use wheat germ, as the once has a similar taste.
How to Store All Purpose Flour
All-purpose flour can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. You should store flour in an airtight container, because air can cause it to develop an off taste. Flour that is exposed to too much air can absorb the flavors of other ingredients or bacteria present in the air, causing it to develop an off taste.
This can be avoided by storing your flour in an airtight container at room temperature. If you keep flour in the refrigerator, it will last longer, as it will not be exposed to air as much. However, the taste and texture of the flour may be affected, especially if you don’t use it quickly.
How to Store Bread Flour
Like all-purpose flour, bread flour can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Because bread flour has a high gluten content, it should not be kept for long periods of time at room temperature, where it could develop off flavors, as with all-purpose flour would. Bread flour should be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. This is because bread flour contains yeast, which can be easily ruined by exposure to moisture.
Tips for Using All Purpose Flour
– When substituting all-purpose flour for wheat germ or other wheat proteins, use only about 3/4 of the all-purpose flour in a recipe. The wheat proteins may react with the other ingredients, causing them to develop an off taste.
– When substituting all-purpose flour for wheat flour in a recipe, add an additional 2-3 tbsp of liquid to the recipe. This will compensate for the higher gluten content of all-purpose flour and help the other ingredients to rise during baking.
– When substituting all-purpose flour in a recipe that uses leavening, use less than wheat flour would. All-purpose flour contains less sulfur than wheat flour, so it reacts differently with the yeast during baking.
– When substituting all-purpose flour in a recipe that uses sour or acidic ingredients, such as lemon juice or vinegar, use less than wheat flour would.
– When substituting all-purpose flour in a recipe that uses honey or molasses, use less than wheat flour would. These ingredients are very acidic and react with all-purpose flour in a very different way than they do with wheat flour.
– When substituting all-purpose flour in a recipe that uses chocolate, use less than wheat flour would. This ingredient contains a lot of couverture chocolate, which is a very acidic ingredient.
All-purpose flour is a great staple ingredient, and can be used in any recipe that doesn’t require a high protein content. Bread flour, on the other hand, is much more specialized, and is best used when making bread. Bread flour is available in many grocery stores, while all-purpose flour is found in most supermarkets.