The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

High protein bread flour vs all-purpose flour

mrpeabody's picture

High protein bread flour vs all-purpose flour

Hello again,

I had looked at a website called "The Artisan" (I think that many may have stumbled upon this link: that specializes on rustic Italian bread. It is really comprehensive. However, one of the points that they make is that all-purpose flour is really more appropriate for rustic Italian bread that the high-protein bread flours. I've only made bread using high-protein flour (well, except for the Christmas stollen that I make). Do any of you regularly use all-purpose flour for rustic bread making?

Mr. Peabody
P.S. I tried a quick search of the archives of this Forum to see if this was discussed before, so if this an old topic just redirect me to that past discussion.

dasein668's picture

I have found my rustic breads to be much better since I switched to bread flour. A much more open crumb. Just my experience.

Nathan Sanborn

SteveB's picture

Using terms such as "bread flour" or "AP flour" can be misleading, since there are no standard definitions for these terms. One manufacturer's AP flour can be the same as another manufacturer's bread flour. One would be better served by referring to the flour's protein content; flours with around 11.5% protein content are quite suited to the preparation of most European-style artisan breads.

JohnnyX's picture

I totally agree with you on that. I am from Minnesota and I buy a local brand of flour called Dakota Maid. I usually buy bread flour and AP flour. One daY I was curious as to the difference of protein levels between the two, so I called the company and asked them.I was very surprised to learn that they were almost Identical, within a half of a percent from each other.They said the only real difference between the two was that the bread flour had a much higher ash content.

chris's picture

I usually buy AP and add a few teaspoons of Gluten Flour with it.

Lowans (Australian) makes Gluten Flour 70% Protein.


dasein668's picture

That's a good point. I should have noted that I was buying the local grocery store AP, and I'm not sure who makes that. (Hannafords, here in the northeast) and I swtiched to King Arthur bread flour. I haven't tried King Arthur AP....

Nathan Sanborn

mrpeabody's picture

Well, the first few loaves that I baked were with AP and I wasn't that pleased with them. But perhaps it was just my inexperience. When I switched to bread flour, my loaves looked better. It's just that I read that blurb in "The Artisan" website and it made me wonder. Since I am having some success with bread flour, I am reluctant to switch (and I don't really have alot of time to do a side by side comparison).

Another variable might be that the AP flour that I use for other baking is the cheap supermarket variety and the bread flour is a bigger brand name (Gold Medal). Maybe there is better consistency in the name brand.

Mr. Peabody

dasein668's picture

I wouldn't worry about it, if its working for you. If you are getting better breads, then that's the goal, right? Bread baking is, IMO, more art than science, and there is huge variance in different flours by different manufacturers and in different parts of the world. I've had better luck since I switched, but like you I was using cheap (5 bucks per 25 lbs) flour vs. a brand name bread flour, so who knows, really!

Nathan Sanborn

jowilchek's picture

This may be a "stupid" question, but here goes.

I have three different 5 lb. bags of flours one bread, one AP store brand (Kroger) and one AP name brand (Gold Metal).

On the side panels the Protein is listen in grams...out of all three two have 3 grams protein and the bread flour has 4 grams.

On this and other sites people talk about protein percentages like 11 %.

How do I find out the percentage of flour?

Thanks for all your help in the past, present, and future...

I am relatively new to bread baking and want to learn so much

mrfrost's picture

You(or anyone else) cannot tell the precise protein percentage of a flour by reading the label. Usually, only the minimum nutritional info required will be on the label. 3 grams of protein may actually be 2.5 grams or 3.4 grams, or anything in between.

2.5 / 30 = 8.33 % protein

3.4 / 30 =  11.33 %. Similarly for the 4 grams, etc.

Suffice it to say, the maufacturer knows the precise values. Some choose to freely release this info(website specs, contact info, etc), some don't.

You can usually find GM specs. The retail GM AP, if I am not mistaken, is known to be 10.5%. I suspect the Kroger is about the same(10.3% or so).

yozzause's picture

Another point to remember about flours is they are being milled all year round and the qualities can vary, we are fairly lucky that millers are able to give us a pretty cosistant product by mixing and selecting their grain source. Millers usually send a report out to commercial bakers on the flour each month, i used to always enjoy reading the report and comparing with previous reports, it also enabled bakers to compensate if gluten levels were falling, or help give some insight if the resulting bread was showing different characteristics either in mixing handling or baking requirements.