The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread flour alternative?

TXdad's picture

Bread flour alternative?

Hi all, I'm new to the site and to bread machine baking.  I'm very excited about the bread machine and look forward to my adventures with it but have an initial question/concern I hope you may be able to help me with.  

The main reason I decided to make my own bread is that my son has a medical condition that makes him unable to eat many types of foods, including some that often are present in bread: barley, malt, soy, and dairy.  As far as I can find, bread flour always contains malted barley flour, which I cannot use.  I also cannot use all-purpose flour for the same reason.  I can, however, use regular, plain flour (which can be surprisingly hard to find!)  I am concerned about whether or how I can substitute plain flour for bread flour in bread machine recipes.  

I have read that a possible way to make a substitute for bread flour is by adding vital wheat gluten to all-purpose flour.  Do you think it would work to add the gluten to just plain flour?  If so, do you think I would need to add even more than if I were substituting with all-purpose flour?  

Thank you in advance for any guidance you can offer!

clazar123's picture

There are possibly many different avenues to explore but it all depends on what country you are in and poss what location in that country.

If you are in the USA, a lot of local health food stores and coops carry flours that may be helpful. The cost is higher but if you use it just for this purpose, it won't break the bank.

All natural flour from Hodgson Mill:

Vital Wheat Gluten:

Arrowhead Mills:

Here is their vital wheat gluten:

Other ideas are:

1. See if there is a local mill nearby that may produce the flour you need but if it is an allergy situation that induces anaphylaxis or if even small amounts would be harmful, you need to consider cross contamination between batches.

2. Buy a mill and find a source of wheat berries to grind your own-but that is a whole different learning curve.

3. Go wheat free so he develops a taste for breads and products made with other grains and it is easier to avoid unintended exposure. In this wheat based society, it will always be difficult for him to avoid barley/soy/malt in any wheat based products he encounters at relatives, friends and at restaurants.

All food allergy/sensitivity situations are a daily challenge (personal experience) so I hope you have the support of an appropriate support group to help you. Food Allergy Network is VERY helpful with food avoiders of all different problems whether it is allergy or reaction. They have a large voice and have been organized for many years. They are responsible for some of the food labeling in regards to allergens.

All this info is USA based and I hope this is helpful.

Good luck and keep asking questions. When it comes to dietary adjustments, the learning curve can seem overwhelming but it is do-able.


nicodvb's picture

is another alternative. Take the protein content close to 12% considering that in vital wheat gluten there's approximately 75% proteins. Cake flour is not malted.

In any case keep in mind that in all wheat flours the main sugar is maltose. If maltose if the source of your problem no wheat flour is good for you, whether soft, hard, durum, spelt, emmer or kamut.

TXdad's picture

Thanks for all the helpful tips and comments, everybody!  clazar123, in answer to your question, I am in the U.S. and live near lots of different health/natural food stores, so will check out your suggestions.  

In adding VWG to (non-bread and non-AP) flour, is there a ratio you recommend?  Or perhaps a method of calculation I could use once I figure out the protein content of the flour I use?  (Is that something typically stated on the package?)

Thanks again for your help!

pmccool's picture

They offer flour that is unmalted.

Great River Milling has a bread flour with protein levels at 14%.  It performs very well.  From their website, I can't tell whether it has malt added, or not.


TXdad's picture

Thanks for the tip, PMcCool!  Heartland Mills looks to be just the ticket, I'm so glad you informed me about them!

proth5's picture

Last time I recommended Heartland Mills - some folks found that their shipping costs were eye-popping.  That may not matter to you, but be warned.  That was a few years back, so things may have changed.

The reason that flour contains malted barley is to correct the "falling number".  This is a measure of the amylase action in the flour - which to try and be as non technical as possible affects how rapidly the starch in the flour is broken down into the sugars that feed the yeast. I bring this up, because you may experience issues with standard bread machine recipes due to your unmalted flour. Normally a baker compensated for this by adding malt - but you don't have that option.  You may need to do some adjusting (or not) to get the results you desire. Just be aware of this.  I have used unmalted white flour in non-bread machine baking and I noticed a difference.

You might just want to try whole wheat flour - which is never malted and available everywhere.  I've made 100% whole wheat flour in the bread machine and although it ideally should use sourdough, can be made with all commercial yeast.  No vital wheat gluten needed.  It's in my blog on these pages.

I do bread machine baking using flour a little less than 11% protien - which I do not consider to be "bread" flour.  Stuff comes out fine.  No vital wheat gluten needed.

Good luck with your quest!

suave's picture

I think your best bet could be organic flours - not all, but at least some of them are unmalted.

dabrownman's picture

P all the time with VWG.  If you know the protein of the AP and the VWG ( mine comes in 65%) it is  simple math to make the addition of VWG to what ever % protein you want - and you know it is the right kind of protein too.   For unmalted four it is best to grind your own from berries but you may not be able to tell what the protein level is.  But if the grain is sourced from the US or  Canada then there should be no problem with protein or gluten.

John the Elder's picture
John the Elder

I live in the UK, and have never heard of VWG before reading USA bread forums. What is it (eg Xantum gum)? I have an intolerance to wheat - is it safe for my to include in my bread?

John the Elder

chris319's picture

Allow me to recommend Giusto's: They have all kinds of interesting flours. They explicitly label their flours that contain barley.

Meliss's picture

I heard that the best way to substitute for bread flour is by adding a small amount of vital wheat gluten (which is just pure protein/gluten) to all purpose flour to increase its protein content.It can be helpful.

pantone_000's picture

Just this day I have read a blog site that swears to the binding power of psyllium husks for her gluten-free diet. Hope this helps: