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Bread Flour vs. All Purpose Flour

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

What are the main differences?

 

Are some breads made with APF?

 

Would there be any benefit to go half and half?

 

TIA

post #2 of 35

Go navigate a website called The Fresh Loaf to find the answer.

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post #3 of 35

bread flour has more protein and is good if you want more gluten developement. as such, it is a stronger flour. all purpose is right in the middle, as far as strength goes. cake flour is the delicate one. they all have their purpose and there is a difference. just use what the recipe calls for.

post #4 of 35

Think bagels and their chewiness when thinking of bread flour.  AP flour would have less chewiness, like Wonder Bread.  The flour lowest in protein is known as pastry or cake flour and has the least chewiness and is more crumbly as in biscuits.

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post #5 of 35

The basic difference is percentage of protein, Abe.

 

Flour is made from two kinds of wheat. Hard winter wheat is high in protein, and is always used for bread flour. Pastry flours, on the other hand, are low in protein, made from soft wheat.

 

The higher the protein count, the more gluten you can develop, and the tougher the dough.

 

Knowing that you can immediately figure why. For pastry you want a tender dough. Gluten development is discouraged, and you strive for short threads. For bread, on the other hand, you want strong gluten development, with long threads.

 

Shirttailing on KoKo's analogy, you would use bread flour to make bagels, but pastry flour to make doughnuts.

 

All Purpose Flour is a combination of the two. As such, it can be used for any baking project. But, like all Jacks-of-all-trades, it doesn't do any of them quite as good as a specialist.

 

There is also some overlap, depending on brand. That is, some all purpose flours have as much, or more protein as some bread flours. So it's good to read labels.

 

Are some breads made with APF?

 

Actually, quite a few. In fact, most older American cookbooks, and many new ones that aren't specifically about bread making, specify all purpose. As a general rule, it's more useful for loaf breads than free-standing ones; but that's not always true.

 

 Would there be any benefit to go half and half?

 

Not much purpose that I can see. All you'd accomplish would be to up the protein percentage of the all purpose, but by lowering the bread flour's. You'd wind up with a high protein count all purpose flour.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #6 of 35

As already said, the primary difference in AP and bread flour is the amount of glutens, and bread flour has more than AP. 

 

The difference is attributable to the types and locations of the wheat from which they are milled.  Bread flour is not AP with glutens added, nor is AP bread flour with glutens removed. 

 

The distinctive percentages of glutens is not constant throughout the US, but varies.  As a rule, flour in the American south is "softer" (less glutens) than flour in the north. There is some overlap between northern AP and southern bread flours. 

 

As a rough rule of thumb, chewier breads are made with stiffer doughs.  The differences between AP and bread flours are much less important than the amount of hydration and the handling.

 

In fact, handling is where most of the rubber meets the road.  Bread flour stands up better to long and violent kneading better than AP, and should be favored with food processors and large mixer/kneaders.  With hand kneading, AP tends to work better -- not only with lighter "bread pan" loaves, but with European style, "artisanal" loaves as well.

 

Of course, the above is just my experience.  There are no hard and fast rules.  And any apparent disagreement between my remarks and KY's should probably be best viewed from a "both right -- no hard and fast rules" perspective.

 

BDL 

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post #7 of 35

Some bakers will, I've heard, mix a bit of bread flour with AP flour just to give it a tad more 'chewiness'.


Edited by kokopuffs - 5/23/10 at 10:29am

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

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post #8 of 35

And any apparent disagreement between my remarks and KY's should probably be best viewed from a "both right -- no hard and fast rules" perspective.

 

I certainly agree with the sentiments, BDL. But reading both your post and mine, I don't see where there's any disagreement.

 

Hmmmmmm? How'd that happen?

 

Sometimes, I think, we can get overly involved in the technical aspects and forget whom we are talking to. From the type of questions he asked, for instance, I would guess Abe is at the point where he's buying national brand flours. So, talk about regional differences, while correct, might be gilding the lilly, as it were.

 

Are there differences between White Lilly and Pillsbury? You betcha! But, based on my experience, it takes a lot of bread baking before those differences make much of a difference in practical terms.

 

I would guess, too, that a lot of our brand preferences actually reflect the differences you brought up, even if we're not consciously aware of them. Case in point: When I switched from King Arthur to Weisenburger mills, a few years back, I had no idea what the actual differences were. Didn't even know there were differences, frankly. My switch was made because Weisenburger is local.

 

The fact that I now understand the difference, and know why I prefer it, is really irrelevent. At the time, far as I was concerned, flour was flour.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 35

KY:

 

Just made some bread using a newly acquired 25# bag of Weisenberger and methinks that the resultant loaf differs a bit from one made with KA Bread Flour but can't exactly tell the reason why. 

 

What's your impression concerning the difference(s) between KA and W? 

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

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post #10 of 35

well i do know that many go to the trouble of importing flour and water from their specific region to keep the bread similar. it will probably still taste different since the wild yeast varies from place to place, though.

post #11 of 35

KoKo, speaking just with gut feelings, cuz I haven't done any comparisons, but my impression is that the Weisenberger is slightly softer. I know all the wheat for their bread flour is grown right here in Kentucky, and that could explain it.

 

But, being as I can't remember the last time I baked without using a retarded fermentation, the additional softness doesn't seem to matter.

 

I do like the taste better, but can't actually describe what the difference is.

 

So, all in all, I'm like you. I can tell a difference, which I can't describe. But of the two I like the Weisenberger better. KA would be my second place choice, though, of flours I've tried.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #12 of 35

Yeah, overall the W had a better flavor although the flavor of KA is not bad by any stretch of the imagination.  Sigh, when I lived in Denver in the early 2000's, I had my choice of about 15 different bread flours offered by the Rocky Mountain Flour Mill that, at this time, has pared down their selection.  Boy oh by was I ever spoiled by that mill: 50# bags selling for less than $12 on site.


Edited by kokopuffs - 5/23/10 at 6:32pm

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post #13 of 35

Yeah, now it's almost twice as much: 11 bucks for #25.

 

Just out of pernicious curiousity, what was the shipping on your #25 bag?

 

Interestingly, I don't care for W's high-gluten flour. I've made several things with it that, when I substituted bread flour, actually came out better.

 

There's is the only high-gluten I've used, however, so really don't have anything to compare it to.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #14 of 35

If you're hard core about baking, you'll want to seek out high grade suppliers.

 

The USDA requirement for labeling flour is pretty shoddy. From memory, it's based in grams of protein in the flour per cup. So beside mixing and matching measurement scales (Metric/US), they mix a weight measurement with a volume measurement. AP is supposed to be 4 grams per cup. Bread higher, cake lower. But because of regulations for rounding fractions, there is often negligible diffrences between them. Even by percentages there's only about 5% between the lowest protein cake flour (8%) and highest bread four (13%). Generally speaking cake flour is the lower 2 percent, AP flour the middle 2 percent and bread flour the upper 2 percent, but there is some overlap in them.

post #15 of 35

Well, it's really pernicious.  Well over $15 to ship a 25# bag to south Georgia.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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post #16 of 35

If you're hard core about baking, you'll want to seek out high grade suppliers.

 

Conceptually, I have no disagreement with this sentiment, Phil.

 

The problem is, what constitutes high grade? Price certainly isn't the criterium when we're talking about flour. And, as is apparent from Koko's and my comments, preferences are often based on indefinable nuances. F'rinstance, I certainly have nothing against King Aruthur; used it for years very happily. I just prefer the Weisenberger; even though I can't tell you why.

 

And the fact is, thousands of loaves are successfully baked using national brands bought in the supermarket.

 

I think the trick is to try as broad a spectrum of flour as possible, then decide which works best for you, keeping in mind that there are a lot of things beyond raw ingredients that influence flavor.

 

For instance, a premium flour, used to make a direct dough that's baked the same day might produce a bread that doesn't taste as good as one using preferments and delayed fermentation but made with a lesser flour.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #17 of 35

I usually always use all purpose flour. I would have said that I am quite hardcore about baking so it seems I have picked up some wise words of wisdom in this discussion!!

 

Thanks

Chris

post #18 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by torkuk View Post

I usually always use all purpose flour. I would have said that I am quite hardcore about baking so it seems I have picked up some wise words of wisdom in this discussion!!

 

Thanks

Chris

Yep!  Looks like there is always more to learn.
 

post #19 of 35

Ain't that the truth! I figure, give me another 20 years, and I'll be able to call myself a baker.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #20 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

Ain't that the truth! I figure, give me another 20 years, and I'll be able to call myself a baker.


Annually, I myself bake approximately 40 loaves of bread using a 6C recipe.  And one figures that a 'real' breadbaker bakes at least that much in two days makes me realize that I have a long, long way to go in achieving mastery at bread making.
 

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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post #21 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kokopuffs View Post




Annually, I myself bake approximately 40 loaves of bread using a 6C recipe.  And one figures that a 'real' breadbaker bakes at least that much in two days makes me realize that I have a long, long way to go in achieving mastery at bread making.
 


Hey if you get good at it you can always start selling loaves to the neighbors.

post #22 of 35

I don't really know the exact difference of these two flour. It is like the full cream milk and the whipping cream.. :)
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by abefroman View Post

What are the main differences?

 

Are some breads made with APF?

 

Would there be any benefit to go half and half?

 

TIA

post #23 of 35

As analogies go, HomeMade, that isn't a bad one, in that they are both rated based on the percentages of one component.

 

With cream it's the percentage of butterfat. Flour is rated based on the percentage of protein.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #24 of 35

If I remember my years working at the mill...

 

Flour breaks down into 3 classes

Patent, 1st clear & 2nd clear

Patent flour is the lightest = cake, pastry

1st & 2nd = bread

all 3 = straight four

all wheat spring and winter make all 3 classes after the 1930 and the smart scientist altered the genes through cross breed of the wheat. Bread flour needs water for the gluten to form and meld with the ash, yeast is the key to relax the gluten and soften the dough. This is way bread flour is not a good choice for cake unless it is a yeast rise cake or a baked product with heavy fruit. This aides in suspending the fruit in the cake. If you make large amounts of bread you will run test on the 30+tons of flour you buy by the train load to find the H2O percent for your bread formula.All flour is different and all flour has mill lots and all mill lots are different. Kansas wheat is the best, through breeding you now have states south and west of the rockies producing wheat not so good.  AP flour has additives that aide in this differential. I will say that AP flour make darn good cookie if shortening is used and it is not HR shortening. Most folks dont have SweetTex with is emulsifiers. AP flour is kinda a leftover using chemicals to make the constent product. As we all now age is the best whitener of flour.

If you want a great read try getting a hand on

A TREATISE ON CAKE MAKING its a textbook from standard brand copy right 1935 by Fleischmann group.

 

Good luck

post #25 of 35



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cabotvt View Post

...I will say that AP flour make darn good cookie if shortening is used and it is not HR shortening. Most folks dont have SweetTex with is emulsifiers. AP flour is kinda a leftover using chemicals to make the constent product....Good luck

 

What is HR shortening?  The book entitled Artisan Baking Across America makes a good read, too, as far as flour types, techniques, recipes and photos are concerned.  A really entertaining boook for the general public and foodies who might like to delve into breadbaking.

 


Edited by kokopuffs - 6/10/10 at 4:13am

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post #26 of 35

Hello, the HR short is made by adding emulsifiers is enables the fat to absorb and retain moisture which is need in cakes and icings due to the high sugar content. HR enables the batter to absorb the extra moisture from the addition sugar. Hope this clears up your R question.

post #27 of 35

Cabot,

 

Where do you get, "AP flour is kinda a leftover using chemicals to make the constent product?"

 

AP flour is simply flour with a gluten content which is between "high gluten" (also known as "bread flour") and pastry flour.  (For completeness, there's a fourth category, "cake flour," with even less gluten than pastry flour.)  Chemicals are unnecessary.

 

For what it's worth, almost all bread baking -- commercial and residential -- is done with straight flour.  The patents and clears are mostly reserved for the low gluten, cake and pastry flours.  For instance, the really high quality cake flours like Swan's Down are made from patent.

 

For European type artisanal breads mixed and kneaded by hand, with ordinary residential mixers, or made with a no-knead technique, the sort of AP flour you find outside of the US south works extremely well.  Southern AP flour might be a little too soft.  On the other hand, if you bake in commercial quantities and/or use a very powerful machine  -- especially if you're trying to make a spongey white bread -- high gluten bread flour may be just the same thing.  

 

On the other hand, I find a mix of northern AP and cake flours mimics southern AP flour and produces outstandingly tender biscuits.   

 

Patent flour is not readily available in home quantities and is quite expensive. Flours which are ordinarily available aren't labled, graded, or sold as patent, clears or straights.  While the discussion of patents and clears is interesting, but since it's not sold that way it's not relevant to any but a very few home bakers.

 

Yes it is possible to buy patent flour as such, but in addition to being relatively pointless for most baking, it ain't easy.  As far as I know, the smallest available quantity is a 50 pound bag.

 

Finally, if your source is the 1935 text you suggest, it's either wrong or the outdated language confused you.

 

If you're interested, I suggest reading this short article (which I linked in another thread as well).

 

It may seem like I'm following you around just to disagree.  But, I assure that is not the case and hope we can be friends.  I recognize that you're a professional baker, and don't mean to be disagreeable, competitive, assert superiority (which I don't posess), or start a fight.  But you have several other things wrong in addition to the idea I quoted.  We can go through them if you like. 

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 6/15/10 at 5:22pm
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post #28 of 35

BDL,

 

No issues at all, I would recommend the NAMAMILLERS.org. They have all the information on milling, I guess my use of chemicals are the vitimins, and minerial added  to blends in the AP process. Please note the Patent, clears section. Great web site, you can get a tour at some mills its pretty awsome. And my 1935 textbook was a gift from and old lifelong candie/bread maker, my grandfather, and I can assue you its very acurate as it was writen by a major ingredident manufacture, Fleischmann and was used by many colleges as standard text the same company that printed, Standard Text.

 

Get Frosted:)

post #29 of 35

Anything that says it’s for making bread. Those kinds of flours have to much gluten and can result in heavy, too-chewy cupcakes. Regular whole wheat flour is also to heavy and coarse for cupcakes (but great in muffins;). If you love self-rising flour then feel free to use it-just be sure to omit the baking soda and baking powder from the recipes.

SUGAR AND OTHER SWEETENERS:

Granulated sugar: Most vegan cupcake recipes use sugar, mostly because the flavor, consistency, low cost and ease of use can’t be beat when it comes to baking cupcakes. Where I say “sugar” I mean ordinary granulated sugar or evaporated cane juice interchangeably. In fact, any dry sweetener will do.

CONFECTIONERS’ SUGAR, OR POWDERED SUGAR as it’s known in some circles, is essential for making fluffy buttercream frosting. Rejoice in knowing that there are many great organic and vegan varieties of powdered sugar hitting the shelves every day. You can make your own by whirring granulated sugar in a food processor or blender till powdery. If you’re going to use it to make frosting, I recommend adding 1 teaspoon of cornstarch per cup of granulated sugar, as it will help thicken the final consistency of the frosting or icing.

post #30 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Cabot,

 

..Southern AP flour might be a little too soft.  ...

BDL

 

Not so, imho, based on my experience with White Lily flours.  I've made 6C loaves of bread using White Lily AP Flour as well as White Lily Bread Flour.  According to the label the former clocks in at 3g protein per serving whereas the latter at 4g.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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