The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

unbromated flour vs. regular flour

tgw1962_slo's picture

unbromated flour vs. regular flour


About two months ago I discovered "unbromated" flour. I had never heard of this before nor did I know what it meant. So I did a little research about it and found out what the difference is. Based on what I learned, I decided to buy a bag of it to try. I made a focaccia using some of this and was really amazed at the difference. The focaccia came out soft and chewy (but firm). I was really happy with the results. A week prior to this I'd made a focaccia using what I'll call "regular" flour and the results weren't as good. The crust was rather hard and crunchy (kind of hard to chew).

So I guess I'm wondering if anyone else here uses unbromated flour? What your experience is.

Please let me know. Thanks.



ehanner's picture


Let me say first that I am not an expert in this area and am just getting a feel for the make up of various flours.

I believe that the mills bromate and bleach their products for two reasons. First, the US market wanted white breads and not that creamy off color that occurs naturally in grain. White breads were all the rage so some genius came up with a process to whiten up the flour. Second, The mills decided that they could temper or age the newly ground grain chemically using bleaches and bromates. The industry became convinced that green (freshly ground) flour needed to age for up to two Months to produce good bread. The large mills produce over a million pounds every day so you can imagine what they thought about storing 60 million pounds of rodent bait while it aged. Adding bleaching and bromating eliminated the wait.

If you want to understand a little about this subject from a historical point, please take a few minutes to read this article. Scroll down to ADULTERATION OF FLOUR

The entire paper is quite interesting and shocking in some ways. If you care about the health of your family (and who doesn't) you should read this paper.

Many of the members here grind their own flours or use unbleached and unbromated flours exclusively. Most of us got started doing so while learning to bake artisan style breads because they are so much better tasting. The myth about aging seems to have been blown recently by the owner of Guistos Flours of San Francisco. They are one of the largest mills in the US and produce a very good artisan grade flour and he says aging is a myth.

So, short question, long answer. Sorry but this is an area that all of should understand a little better and I hope others will check out the report at the link above.


nbicomputers's picture

bromates are used in very small amounts 8 to 16 ppm and for good reason.  although they are used in flour as a dough improver bromates are a known cancer causing agent and have banned in many countries.  they are still permited for use in the US in all states. CA however has a law that states that any baked goods that contain bromates must have a warning lable on the package stating that bromates have been used in the item.

bleaching will whiten the flour which will give the finished product a very white look (see the inside of a wonder bread)  but does have a weakening affect on the gluten. so a bleached flour will be not as strong as unbleached.  this can affect the bread resulting in a more dense loaf.  also when using bleached flour you should watch how much proof you give before baking, because the gluten is weakened the bread that looks like it has the right amount of proof could colaspe in the oven.   as it rises in the oven it will not have enough foundation to support its self and fall completly or sink in the middle.

redcatgoddess's picture

ok... couple of clarification here..

Flours are current bleached for 2 reasons...

  1. Color.  As Eric (ehanner) said, as some point of time.. Good citizen of USA decided that white bread should be white not cream...
  2. Spead up oxidation.  Green (freshly milled) flour is lacked of the gluten developement strength, therefore, as Alton Brown will say, not good eats.  That's why old timers often age them upto 2 months to 'rest' the flour (however, that also increase cost & spoilage).  In the process of 'resting,' flours are conditions by oxygen (oxidation of the gluten).  Nowadays, bleach is used as an oxidation agent to speed up the process & lower cost of storage and spoilage.  So you can have purchase a 5lb bag at your local maret for about $5!
You can purchase unbleached (or as this article entitled,'unbromated') flours in your local market now, which just means they were aged with any chemical.. that's all...
LindyD's picture

Sorry....some of us tend to use acronyms as a short cut.  KA/KAF stands for King Arthur Flour.

The company's been around for 200 years and sells pretty fine flour.  Their website also offers some great recipes and excellent educational information.

I'm also in the midwest - about 50 miles from the Straits of Mackinac - and KA bread and AP flours are sold in just about every supermarket and box store.

jcjust's picture

Hi all -- lots of references to King Arthur Flour in this thread -- here is what they have to say about bromated flour.  It's directed at commercial bakers but I think it help to frame the discussion and so you understand what changes without bromate.