The Fresh Loaf

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Using bleached AP flour (question)

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WilderThanYeast's picture
WilderThanYeast

Using bleached AP flour (question)

I was wondering if it's AT ALL possible to get an airy light crumb with large holes using a bleached all purpose flour. Where I live, it is extremely difficult and expensive to acquire bread flour or any high gluten or unbleached flour, and the ONLY time I made bread with large holes was when I used bread flour. So I was wondering if that was coincidental or there's a science behind it. I know that gluten helps strengthen the dough and "trap" air bubbles, so is it possible to do that with a bleached 11.5% protein flour?

 

 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Hi,

This is not the answer to your question but rather a piece of advice.  I would do whatever it takes to find unbleached flour.  The bleaching agents used for most flours have been banned in many places around the globe including the entire EU.  These chemically bleached flours are not good for you at all.  The cost of not using toxic flours might be high but it is nothing when compared with the possible negative effects of treated flours.

Jeff

WilderThanYeast's picture
WilderThanYeast

I did not know they were that bad! Thank you for the advice. There are several "unlabeled" flour brands at the supermarket and it just says "all-purpose flour", how can I tell if it has been bleached or not?

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

The original packaging should say either "bleached" or "unbleached" some where on the package.

Jeff

GAPOMA's picture
GAPOMA

Yes.  You can get a light crumb with large holes using bleached AP flour.  Just keep your hydration high.

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

"ONLY time I made bread with large holes was when I used bread flour."

Bread flour has nothing to do with getting big holes. 11.5% is actually ideal for artisan type loves.

MichaelH's picture
MichaelH

This forum is not the place to get any kind of an objective opinion on bleached flour. Regardless of what others say, keep in mind that unbleached flour, especially among artisan or hope to be artisan bakers is a relatively new phenomenon. The fact is that hundreds of millions of people have been eating bread baked from bleached flour for many decades, and have lived long and healthy lives.

For the record, I prefer unbleached mainly for the color of the flour and the bread, but I seriously doubt that anyone could tell the difference between the two in a blind taste test of identically baked loaves.

 

 

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

Agreed. Everything is toxic or not toxic, depending on the quantities consumed.

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Chemically bleached flour did not exist prior to the early 1900's.  Upon its introduction in the US, it was met with vehement oppostion from Harvey W. Wiley, MD, head of the Bureau of Chemistry, an agency that ultimately evolved into the FDA.  Dr. Wiley took the issue of bleaching flour all the way to the supreme court where it was ruled that flour could not be bleached or adulterated in any way.  The ruling was never enforced.

As a matter of historical fact,  unbleached flour has been used for thousands of years and, as such, few would consider it to be a relatively new phenomenon.  My opinion, on the other hand, is that we should all be free to choose whatever flour we like.

Jeff

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

According to the FDA website:

1914

In U.S. v. Lexington Mill and Elevator Company, the Supreme Court issues its first ruling on food additives. It ruled that in order for bleached flour with nitrite residues to be banned from foods, the government must show a relationship between the chemical additive and the harm it allegedly caused in humans. The court also noted that the mere presence of such an ingredient was not sufficient to render the food illegal.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

sticks and stones and God knows what else in unbleached flour.  Flour used to be aged to become whiter, now they bleach it.  I've made wonderful bread, holey and otherwise, using bleached flour, until I found a cheaper source of the unbleached.

Elagins's picture
Elagins

Getting an open crumb isn't about protein content or whether a flour is bleached or not. Rather, it has to do with kneading technique and duration.  I get an extremely open crumb from 2-3 minutes of hand kneading, followed by a couple of hours of stretch and fold every 20-30 minutes, then very gentle handling of the dough, which should at that point show good gluten development and large gas bubbles just under the surface. I've gotten an equally open crumb with AP flour, bread flour and high gluten flour, both bleached and unbleached.

As for bleaching, whether one is in favor of it or not, it improves gluten formation and helps make doughs easier to work, which is why a lot of pizzaoli use bleached flours like Mondako and Kyrol. Some flours, like cake flour and most first clear flours, can only be had in bleached form. The one thing I would recommend is that bromated flours be avoided at all costs. The U.S. is the only industrialized country that permits millers to use postassium bromate, a known carcinogen, in food, and California is the only state that requires disclosure of bromate content.

Stan Ginsberg
www.nybakers.com