The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

To Sift or Not to Sift... for Bread

dantortorici's picture

To Sift or Not to Sift... for Bread

I am wondering if sifting of flour is a good practice when making bread?

Do you sift?  Why?  All your flours?

Its my understanding that it used to be necessary but that milling practices and equipment today do a much better job so sifting is not necessary. But then again, I have nothing to back that up.




Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I sift if I'm living in a tropic zone.  If you routinely have bugs in your flour, sift it.  If you don't want to know, don't sift it.  :)   Sifting will also remove large pieces of bran, bits of glass, plastic, leaves, threads from flour bags and any clumps.  Like I said, depends on where I live.

Sifting is also done to mix ingredients together, like cocoa, baking powder and soda into flour.  If the flour is lumpy, sift it.

cryobear's picture

When I'm in Oregon for the summer, I find that 4.5 cups of flour weighs about 1 pound.  In Hawaii 4.5 cups weighs in at 1.7 pounds.  The moisture level makes it pack up.  It also puts a load on the mixer.  Put it on a scale and see if 4.5 cups is over 1 pound.  If yes,sift it.  You may be surprised to see almost 6 cups. 

What kills me in the islands is when you go to bake and the flour smells like dirty mildewed laundry.  And talk about wild yeast; mix in some water and you'll have dough rolling all over the bake area!  I now keep it in the freezer when I leave.

dantortorici's picture

So it sounds like sifting is really all about the mechanical benefits of removing particles bigger than the sifter from your flour and not really about any chemical or physical change in dough as a result of sifting.

The one exception seems that its a great way of mixing in thoroughly some ingredients into the flour like cocoa and baking powder.



charbono's picture

Sifting into a measuring cup and leveling off will give a consistent amount.