The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread flour or Plain white flour

bobkay1022's picture

Bread flour or Plain white flour

Hello to every one and a Happy Holliday season.  It seems I have been on this forum forever with posts about Ciabatta Bread and the good luck I have with it. Now I must confess I have a bigger problem.

Regular bread baking has never been a ??? success it seems for what I expect from a good tasting loaf.  Not sure why as I do everything according to the recipe including weights, measurements and scaling.

 Having just spent a quick few days with a baker and learning whatever you could in such a short time was more fun that experience.

 I have a question about flour. I looked at the forum and lot of pro and con plus language that is a little over my head. 

 I am under the impression that for normal baking it makes no difference if you use white unbleached flour instead of bread flour.  by hand years ago i have done a yeast white bread with regular flour

 Seems I am spinning my wheels on this one again.  I go through bread flour quick enough with  bad loaves  and trying to achieve a good loaf to start now with regular off the shelve white flour. It still makes a delicious Ciabatta Bread Any comments.

Thanks such a nice past time to read all the posts at my age. lol




wally's picture

Not uncommon, because bread  flour goes under any number of different names, and unfortunately, with great inconsistency.  If you are baking something like ciabatta - or other hearth breads, like baguettes - then the flavor of the finished loaf is derived primarily from the flour that is used.  Most "bread flours" are defined as having a protein content in the 11-12% range. 

You never want to use a bromated or bleached flour - these have had vital nutrients removed in the milling process which leads to poor flavor and color in finished loaves.

So, first lesson is to look for flours that advertise themselves as "unbromated, unbleached."  Some of these go under the name of "bread flour."  But others, such as King Arthur's All Purpose Flour, are really "bread flours" by virtue of their protein content, as opposed to many "all purpose" flours whose protein content is in the 10-11% range.  (Ironically, King Arthur's retail "Bread Flour" has a protein content in excess of 12% and is therefore at the low end of high gluten flours.

Second lesson, then, is never take too seriously the market name of the type of flour - AP and Bread Flour are often used interchangeably.

Better to seek out flours you can trust - such as King Arthur - or which advertise themselves as being neither bromated nor bleached.


bobkay1022's picture

Hi Larry

Thanks  for the quick reply. I had thought of most the possibilities that you discribed.  I have been using until just recently  Bread flour from a known brand.  I have  recently been with a Pro baker and I did ask the question what kind of flour do you use for your bread. His reply was just plain white all purpose flour for all breads that called for a white flour.  His answer also was that price for bread flour was almost 1/2 to 1/3 more than All purpose flour it bakes as well as the known bread flour. 

His bread was delicious  nice crumb and crust.  I was sold on the idea but with so many bad loaves of bread just thought I would throw in a post and see what other novice or pro. folks said.  I am sure I might have opened up a honets nest but I hope not.

Thanks again and have a nice holliday season,


noonesperfect's picture

Bread flour is better for some breads, such as bagels, because it has a higher gluten capability than AP flour, resulting in a chewier crumb.  For other breads, such as baguettes, I prefer AP flour because it results in a more tender crumb.


Ultimately, both types work for most breads, and you should pick the one that makes you happy.  When in doubt, experiment.