The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread, all purpose flour. Both?

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

Bread, all purpose flour. Both?

I have several bread books that list using one or the other in their recipes. Does all purpose flour make a good yeasted bread loaf? Anyone with experience making brad this way?

Thanks,

rat.

Lechem's picture
Lechem

AP will give a softer crumb and bread flour (depending on how strong it is) will give a more chewy crumb. Whether you use one or the other or a mix depends on what you want in a loaf. 

Queen of Tarts's picture
Queen of Tarts

North American all-purpose flour is pretty high in protein, so it makes great bread.  I only use bread flour when I want more chewy crust (pizza), or in combination with rye and other non-wheat flours when I want more gluten to give the dough some strength. The rest of the time, AP works very well. All-purpose flour is especially well suited for French, Italian and other European breads and viennoiserie, as they were originally developed for weaker flours.

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

Thanks for the answers! That's good to know. The town I live in has a very limited supply of bread flour. I think I've drained this place dry. : ) Looks like it's AP bread this weekend. One thing I read and don't remember where. To get flour more consistent to the flour of old Europe breads you mix three parts AP into one part bread flour. 

Queen of Tarts's picture
Queen of Tarts

Thank you for that tip!  I use King Arthur flour (their AP is 11.7% protein) and one of their bloggers did a side-by-side bake using bread flour and AP: https://blog.kingarthurflour.com/2016/07/21/substitute-bread-flour-all-purpose-flour/

The conclusion was "use bread flour if you want a tighter crumb and a loaf that holds its shape, or choose all-purpose if you’re looking for a slightly more open texture and a bit more tenderness."

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

A topic that typically elicits a bit of a rant from me...so...there is very inconsistent use of the term "bread flour" in baking circles.  Most home bakers, and grocery store packages, distinguish between AP and bread flour and that may all seem clear (except when moving from the South to other regions of the U.S.)...but in professional baking circles bread flour often refers to what AP flour is to home bakers (flour that is appropriate for making bread).  "Hi-pro" is then used for the higher protein flour that is like grocery store bread flour (although there is variation in all of these, e.g. KA bread flour is 12.7% protein, Central Milling High Mountain is 13.5%; KA professional line of Sir Lancelot is 14%).

Where this gets really confusing is when folks like Hammelman (love his book otherwise) use the term "bread flour" throughout a book of formulas and techniques for both home and professional bakers, without clarifying what he is referring to (at least that I can find...but my understanding is that he is talking to professional bakers' sense of "bread flour", meaning a moderate protein flour in the 11.5% protein range, and not asking everyone to use high protein flours).

Analogous issues exist in the many inconsistent ways rye flour is labeled in the U.S. (it would be nice if we could have a sticky for a discussion thread clarifying these and other terms in baking!!!).

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Amen Prof.  The book certainly seems directed at the professional, with a nod to the home baker.  And I did scratch my head over where in the book he defines "bread flour".  And the answer seems to be - nowhere.  Up until recently, I was taking him at his words "bread flour" and using "my over the counter" supermarket bread flour.  But then started to scale back again to AP.

I can't say that I'm disappointed in the results I've had from baking his breads, rather the opposite.  But with your comment here making a lot of sense to me, I'll revisit my BBGA spreadsheet snd make that correction for entries attributed to him. 

As far as nomenclature which a few of us address here intermittently, a "starter kit" might include chef, mother and starter.  But I get the idea that there will always be other names - these are just in English of course...

Thanks, alan

suave's picture
suave

If you can't find it it does not mean it's not there. 

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

Thanks for that...I was always amazed that one of THE authorities on bread and author of one the best books on the subject would make such an oversight.

That said, it still seems to be a source of confusion for people who didn't catch the bottom of p. 146

alfanso's picture
alfanso

You are so right.  I spent my time leafing back and forth, well mostly forth, his "ingredients and their function" section.

Well, all those bakes with my Gold Medal Bread Flour didn't seem to mind too much.  Now I'll have to revisit them all.

Thanks, alan

Now, where did I leave my keys again? ;-)

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

As soon as I find my glasses, I'll help you look for them...

Queen of Tarts's picture
Queen of Tarts

I absolutely agree -- that's why in any setting, whether it's in a bakery or at home -- formulas need to be tested and folks usually stick with the flour that gives them the best results, regardless of what's in the name.  I wish the protein and ash content were prominently displayed on the bag, as it's done is other countries.  We have made great progress with chocolate, as even supermarket brands are now prominently displaying the cocoa percentage on the package.  Maybe flour will be next?

bikeprof's picture
bikeprof

YES! (I hope so, and ash content too)

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

It is important to me to have a bread with a tighter crumb. Most of it ends up in sandwiches. The recipe I've modified works for me. I've even learned that if I make the dough a bit dryer the slices are denser. The slices hold up better for sandwiches. The crust is not the smoothest. But I'm not going for looks. The overall rise of the bread is the same. Wether I've used 6 1/2  or 7 cups of bread flour.  Guess I'm more of a utility baker than an artisan. For now anyway. So if no one gets bread flour in by Sat. I'll give AP a try with confidence. I've tasted the gold. I do not want to go back to the plastic. : )

 

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

AP flour is all over the map in terms of protein content. *Some* brands are totally unsuitable for bread.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Posted by someone else a few years ago...

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/382578#comment-382578  But I forgot about this chart until tgrayson's post.

I'll use either Gold Medal Bread Flour or Pillsbury Bread Flour, whichever the supermarket has in stock or for sale.  I can't say that I ever had a problem with it that I can recall.  Seems to work for me. 

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

So your saying you get what you pay for when buying a .99 five pound bag of flour. : ) There's even difference in performance between to name brand flours. I like brand Pillsbury because I've always gotten great results. Tried Gold Medal. I got bad results. Same everything except flour. We are talking cookies and pie crusts. Years ago I made biscuits at a fast food joint. We ran out of five pound bags of Pillsbury AP flour. The same flour you can buy in most any store. So they sent me across the street to a gas station that sold Gold Medal AP. The same bad results. The last batch of bread I made was with King Arthur's. I liked what I got. But for me it's the same as Pillsbury. Again to all truth I'm not an artisan baker. I'm the guy who plows through a fresh loaf of bread with all the graces of a possum. If it tastes good, eat it. So the differences between art and good food will be lost on me. I do like the taste of bread using a sponge. Having that sponge sit for up to 45 minutes. I've modified a bread recipe to start this way. Read it in other recipes. Decided to try it in a bread I've already made to taste the difference. Gives the bread a stronger flavor. So I guess i'm not the neanderthal in the kitchen after all. 

Thanks again everyone for the answers and help. And I totally agree with the idea of a list of flours by their protein. Even their usability as bread flour. A way to keep complete novices like me from dropping out due to unfortunate ingredient choices. 

Queen of Tarts's picture
Queen of Tarts

After I retired from the pastry business, I started using King Arthur flours at home almost exclusively. They are available in my local supermarkets and I get consistently good result. And one day they were out of KAF!  I got Gold Medal instead because my starter couldn't wait.  Long story short, I ended up with a very dense, tasteless loaf, and -- worst of all -- my mother starter was dead...  That was the only time it ever happened... 

gwschenk's picture
gwschenk

I've never had problems with Gold Medal bread flour. I wonder if there's a difference depending on where it was milled.

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

Gold Medal is Rose Levy Beranbaum's favorite flour for bread, so it's perfectly fine. Just because one has a bad experience after using a new product doesn't mean the product is at fault. It may easily be a coincidence. When you fail after using a product that so many others succeed with, it's probably your fault. It's sort of like seeing bad reviews for books like "Bread Bakers' Apprentice", saying the recipes don't work. Seriously?

Somasdad's picture
Somasdad

I suspect that supermarket flour tends to be old. I get better results buying flour from bulk sellers — likely because of turnover of stock. Ask your merchant how often the flour is restocked. The bulk seller I like best is the local Amish store. Each week, they go through several 50 lb. bags of King Arthur high-gluten flour. As a caveat though, the Amish ladies all insist that all-purpose flour works well for their bread.

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

Can't say I even thought of looking at the date on the bags of flour I got from the gas station. But they were from a gas station. Early 80's. Small town. Those bags of flour could have been there when they built the station. : ) The flour I used at home was from a store. If you get great results using Gold Medal awesome. Perhaps one day I'll try it again.

This has got me thinking I'll have to start another thread. To keep things on topic. 

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

Thanks again everyone for answering my question. I'll try using AP flour in my next loaves. 

katyajini's picture
katyajini

I absolutlely concur. Goldmedal unbleached AP flour just does not work for bread.  I used to buy this off supermarket shelves and bread recipes I tried just failed.  Over and over. So it was not just old flour that I got once or twice. And the supermarket I go to has enormous turn over.  Of course I thought it was me that I just don't have what it takes to make even the simplest bread and stopped making bread (with great sadness) for a number of years.  Then I started again with Goldmedal Better for Bread Flour, KAF AP and Bread Flour, Wheat Montana AP, and Pillsbury Bread Flour and those same recipes turned out delicious and beautiful.  For my own edification, just to be sure, that maybe it was again me, getting it right this time and maybe not the flour.....I went out and bought a bag of Goldmedal Unbleaced AP Flour and and used it side by side in two recipes.  GM UB AP for most part does not work for bread, not reliable. The gluten deveops poorly and breaks down quickly in a mixer.  Whole grain additions even in small amounts and overnight bulk retardations turns dough very weak and deflates in oven

Really, GM UB AP does not work for bread!  Have I said it enough?  Not just this thread, atleast in one other post someone wrote the GM did not work for him, did not like it. 

In all fairness from my limited experience:

a) Goldmedal Better for Bread flour, however, works very well.  It is 'softer' than KAF AP or Wheat Montana AP and makes a more 'extensible' dough.  The other two flours make a more elastic dough.

b)GM UB AP does all right in various chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cakes I have made.  I have not tried many other flours in this context, just Pillsbury unbleached.  I think Pillsbury unbleached tastes a little better.

I don't know what Rose LB is talking about.  She recommends GM UB AP in her Bread Bible and based on that, with complete trust, I used GM UB AP in my bread baking.  And my supermrket both here in New York and in Boston often had good sales on GM UB AP.....

Anyway I know a lot better now.

I am starting a new thread because I have some more pertinent  questions about AP flour in bread making.

 

Queen of Tarts's picture
Queen of Tarts

Tdgrayson,

Of course it was a coincidence!  But it makes a good story and it's sort of interesting when it also happens to other people.  Let's lighten up a bit (seriously)...

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

Never wanted this thread to be a through down between two flours. If either of them work better for you that's that. The good news is if we lived in the same town. Went to the same store and found only two bags of flour. One of one and one of the other? We'b both be going home to make bread. 

I tried AP flour. Same great taste. The bread holds it's own when being sliced 1/4 inch thick for sandwiches. A bit of a softer bight to it. The crust is a bit softer. Personally i prefer the chew of bread flour. But I would proudly feed both to friends and family.