Can you really tell bleached from unbleached flour?
I hope this topic hasn't been 'done to death' already, but I was wondering...Can any of you guys actually see (or taste? or feel?) a difference between bleached and unbleached wheat flours? My search of this topic on TFL yielded lots of cries for help that usually start: "My recipe calls for unbleached APF, but..." and the usual responses are to visit KAF online.
SOME BACKGROUND: I live in Japan and, last Xmas, I went to Australia, where I picked up a lot of groceries that are either completely unobtainable [or 'almost unobtainable'] here and shipped the stuff back to Japan. My 'stash' included 1kg of 'organic unbleached plain flour'. To be quite honest, I can't tell, by looking at it, that it's any different from the usual "Nisshin" brand of plain/regular flour that every supermarket sells here. We also have a 'specialty' baking store that sells a huge variety of goods, with a slant towards home bread-baking. However, I can't tell any difference in color among their flours—or between them and the regular flours that I can buy in the supermarket. I can't see any difference, either, between the specialty flours and the Aussie unbleached. Recently, a very good flour called "Kobe Flour" with 11.8% 'gluten' has appeared on supermarket shelves at a very good price—for me, that's a good 'bread flour'. I've been told (by a University Professor, who is also a home-baker and actually teaches baking techniques as a volunteer) that you can't get unbleached flour here. [I later found out she wasn't 100% correct—it's for sale online at about US$5 per pound from the "Foreign Buyers' Club" Japanese website.]
So, I'm wondering—what is all the fuss about? Japan has virtually the same rules as the EU for imported flours. Top of the list: NO BROMATED FLOUR is allowed to be imported. I don't know what bleaching, if any, IS permitted, however. Is it *just possible* that all of the US / Canadian flour we buy here is just your regular, non-organic, unbleached flour? If there's a visible difference, would someone please let me know what I'm missing? Thank you!