The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Right Flour for Baguettes: All Purpose Flour or Bread Flour

DonD's picture
DonD

The Right Flour for Baguettes: All Purpose Flour or Bread Flour

I have looked at a lot of recipes for Baguettes and there is no concensus as to whether All Purpose or Bread Flour is the most appropriate. The breakdown is as follows:

Jeffrey Hamelman: BF

Peter Reinhart (Crust & Crumb): AP

Peter Reinhart (BBA): 50% AP & 50 % BF and also either AP or BF

Daniel Leader: AP

Dan DiMuzio: BF

Michel Suas: BF

Joe Ortiz: AP

Richard Bertinet: BF

Personally, being a Libra, I compromise and mix 2 parts AP to 1 part BF and have had good results. I am curious to see how most people feel.

Don

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Don.

Let me start with my conclusion: I haven't reached one yet.

That said, the AP flours I tend to use have a higher than average gluten content, so are probably in between many AP flours and BF. So, I don't use BF for baguettes.

I have two thoughts that push me toward using AP flour: First, the French use T55 which, as I understand it, is most like our APF. Second, a lower gluten flour makes a crackly crust whereas a higher gluten flour tends to make a crunchy crust. 

I haven't made baguettes for a while. Maybe I need to make some this coming weekend.

David

 

DonD's picture
DonD

From what I have read, a lot of French bakers add gluten to their T55 flour so essentially they are baking with the equivalent of our Bread Flour.

Don

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

...pastry flour along with AP flour as the closest you'll come to the flour used in France.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I'm with you DonD.  Although I do sometimes make baguettes (and other breads) using only AP flour, I usually mix it 2:1 with bread flour.  I just like the results of that mix better than either flour used exclusively in bread making.

My starter (100% hydration) is 100% AP flour and that's factored in for the 2:1 mix.

SourFlour's picture
SourFlour

I am also curious as to the differences in the flours and what advantages each might offer.  I have been on Organic All Winter Bread Flour for my last 50lbs, and am just now switching over to Snowflake AP.  I'm not sure the gluten content in each, but will see if I notice any differences.

As I understand it, you don't want to much gluten for baguettes, as it makes it less extensible. On the other hand, more gluten would hold together better for a larger rise. My guess is depending on your shaping skills for baguettes, you would want different feels in the flour.

Interested to see what others say on the matter.

Danny - Sour Flour
http://www.sourflour.org

wally's picture
wally

Don,

A clarification may be in order.  What is called "bread flour" in Hamelman's book is actually AP flour.  My understanding from a series of emails I exchanged with James MacGuire (who reviewed Hamelman's book) is that this was an editorial error - the editors of "Bread" assumed that "bread flour" should be used to designate flour used in bread baking.

The flour Jeffrey used during our course on classic French breads this past July was KAF's Sir Galahad, which is also packaged as their AP I believe.

Hope that helps!

Larry

DonD's picture
DonD

Hi Larry,

Thanks for the helpful clarifications.

Don

copyu's picture
copyu

This may not be helpful, as I live in Japan, but I would go with respondents who suggest 50-50 or 60-40 AP-BF, respectively.

Here, 'regular' supermarket flour (or plain or AP flour) just has the word "flour" on the package. It's always sourced from either the USA and/or Canada, often without percentage of 'protein' info. The package has info that says what it's good for...cakes, pancakes, cookies, tempura, etc...

The other option is something called "Camellia" flour, recommended for 'French bread', and a few other options.

In my experience of baking French style breads with the 'Camellia' flour ("flower"?!) it seems to be a mix of their regular flour and stronger bread flours. I'm guessing, but I'd say its around 11% protein or a tad lower, maybe 10.5%, so that's what I'd aim for. 

I read somewhere [but WHERE? I can't recall the source!] that most French flours contain a small percentage of rye, as stray rye seeds thrive in the same fields as the wheat, so a tablespoon or so of the rye flour might give you some 'authenticity'...just a thought...

Best,

copyu

DonD's picture
DonD

to get a different perspective from someone in Japan. I know that a lot of Japanese are big francophiles so I would think that French style flour for baguettes would be available there. I have added a little rye to my baguette flour mix before but did not know about the wild stray rye in French flour.

Don

copyu's picture
copyu

The Japanese are great francophiles! We're lucky to have a chain of Boulangier Paul in Tokyo and Saitama. They do a few amazing items, my favorite being their flute ancienne, a very long, thin baguette, only available late in the afternoon, which is very chewy--the taste is absolutely superb.

I notice that there are tiny dark specks in the crumb, which, I suppose, is the wee dash of rye they include. I can say (almost) for sure that it's not wheat germ or bran, which one would probably be able to spot by eye or by taste. (These 'specks' are absent from their regular baguettes, however, which are marginally better than most other Japanese bakeries, but not a real 'necessity' for me...) 

I imagine for the more 'rustic' or 'antique' ['re-to-ro' in Japan] baguettes, the rye flour goes without saying...I'm still searching for that reference, though.

Best,

copyu

Elagins's picture
Elagins

French Type 55 flour is about 8.5-10% gluten and 0.55% ash at 0% humidity, which works out to about 0.47% at the standard US 14% moisture rate. Since the average bread flour is about 13/0.53 and the average AP is around 10.5/0.52, both differ considerably from Type 55. Both high (>70%) hydration of higher gluten flours and softer wheats at normal hydration will provide the open crumb. It's just a matter of how, if at all, you want to compromise.

Of course, a good Type 55 clone will behave better than either AP or BF ....

Stan Ginsberg
www.nybakers.com