When baking, it can be a little confusing figuring out which to use, bread flour vs all purpose flour, but I'm here to help! Here's all the information you need when baking with bread flour vs all purpose flour!
Have you ever discovered a recipe, note that is says bread flour, but then wonder if you can use all purpose flour instead? Or wonder why you would need bread flour in blueberry bagels instead of all purpose flour?
Choosing the right flour can be the key to baking success, and two different flours often stand in the spotlight: bread flour and all-purpose flour.
Bread flour has more protein, making it ideal for yeasted recipes that require a hearty texture. Meanwhile, all-purpose flour is the go-to option for a wide array of recipes, bringing a softer touch to everything from cakes to cookies.
Let's break it down in simple terms so you can confidently choose the right flour for all your delicious recipes.
What is Bread Flour?
Bread flour is a flour that has a lot more strength and protein than standard all purpose flour. It is used a lot in breads because it provides that chewy texture that we desire out of breads.
Yeast and bread flour are a match made in Heaven. When using yeast, it's best to use bread flour to enhance the flavor and texture of the bread. Want your bread to have a good chew? Bread flour is your go-to. It creates a sturdy texture, perfect for things like bagels and artisan bread.
What is All Purpose Flour?
All-purpose flour is like the superhero of the baking world. It's the flour that's ready to jump into action whenever you need it in the kitchen. All-purpose flour is made by milling wheat grains and is a blend that strikes a balance between being not too strong and not too soft. When baking or cooking and you think about flour, all purpose flour is the way to go.
When you're whipping up pancakes for breakfast, stirring together a quick batch of peanut butter and jam thumbprint cookies, or enjoying a simple chocolate zucchini bread recipe, all-purpose flour is your best friend. I always have a bag of all purpose flour in my kitchen because I am always cooking or baking something that needs it!
When it comes to bread flour, think of it as the muscle flour. Bread flour has more protein (around 12-14%), and protein is like the building blocks that make gluten – the stretchy stuff that gives bread its structure and chewiness.
All purpose flour is like the friendly all-around player. It has less protein (around 8-11%), which means less gluten. It's not as tough as bread flour but works well in many different recipes. When you're aiming for a softer texture, all-purpose flour is the softer side of baking. It's great for cakes, cookies, and even pie crusts.
How To Use Bread Flour
Bread flour, as you may have guessed, should be used in most bread and pizza dough recipes. It creates a delicious chewy texture that you would require in most sourdough recipes as well as in recipes like sourdough bread, sourdough cheddar jalapeno bread, and in sourdough hamburger rolls.
Though it's used in a lot of sourdough recipes, you can use in in yeasted breads too, just like in Instant Pot crusty bread.
How To Use All Purpose Flour
Can You Substitute Bread Flour for All Purpose Flour?
Yes, you can substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour in many recipes, but it's important to keep in mind a few important things. Bread flour has a higher protein content, which means it produces more gluten during mixing. This can result in a chewier and denser texture like in Dutch oven sourdough bread. That means it can be a 1 to 1 substitute for things like breads and beer pizza crust.
If substituting, consider adjusting the liquid content slightly, as bread flour absorbs more moisture. While you can definitely substitute the flours, make sure to keep in mind that the final outcome may differ from the original recipe, so it's best to experiment and find the balance that works in the recipes.
How To Store Flour
Both bread flour and all-purpose flours should be kept in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture. The most important thing to remember is to store them in an airtight container or in a gallon Ziploc bag. Flour can often attract bugs if it is not stored properly.
Believe it or not you can also freeze flour! Place either of the flours in gallon sized Ziploc bag or freezer safe bags. Make sure to label the bags and then freeze the flour for up to 6 months. Sometimes you can even freeze the flour for longer!
I prefer using unbleached flour in all of my recipes.
Bread flour will give you a more chewy texture, but you can use all purpose flour in place of most bread flour recipes.
If you have it, I prefer organic bread flour but it can be difficult to find. King Arthur makes a delicious bread flour that is great for all your bread needs and it is easily found in your local grocery store.