The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Unbleached versus Enriched Flour for Artisanal Loafs

ngdale21's picture

Unbleached versus Enriched Flour for Artisanal Loafs

I have not been the purchaser in our household of white flour, which is poured into a large bin on purchase. I discovered recently that instead of unbleached white flour she has been getting a good quality so-called enriched white flour. Now, I know that if I were creating a new starter that would not be good. But what do you artisanal bread makers think of using that enriched flour in the standard artisanal bread making. Is it likely that my levain and the subsequent bulk fermentation will be affected? 

idaveindy's picture

Ah yes.  No universal consensus on bleached vs unbleached in the main dough.

But, unbleached and enriched are not opposites. So some additional clarity is needed as to what you are comparing.


The  possibilities for any given white (ie refined, such as AP and bread) flour are:

Enriched and bleached.  Very Common.

Enriched and unbleached. Common. This is what I get when buying AP or Bread flour.  I use it to feed the starter, and as part of the main dough.

Not enriched, and bleached. Rare.

Not enriched,  and not bleached. Less common, but available.


Edited to add: At retail grocery stores, at least the ones i've been to, the white flour bags are clearly marked as to whether they are bleached or not.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I thought all white flour in the US had to be enriched by law? (That's assuming the poster is in the US, of course, but something tells me they are)

Petek's picture

In the US, the FDA doesn't require white flour to be enriched. See Overview of Food Fortification. The relevant portion states:

A6. Is nutrient fortification of foods mandatory in the United States?

With the exception of some standardized foods, fortification is not mandatory in the United States. Foods subject to certain standards of identity may be required to be fortified with certain vitamins and minerals. For example, enriched flour must contain particular levels of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, and folic acid specified in 21 CFR 137.165. However, you are not required to enrich your products. For every standard of identity for an enriched product, we have a corresponding standard of identity for the unenriched product.

Also see the following thread about King Arthur no longer enriching certain flours: King Arthur Flour and Enricnment | The Fresh Loaf.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Right, thank you!

I guess I subconsciously extrapolated the UK law (where all white flour indeed has to be enriched).

idaveindy's picture

I left out bromated / unbromated.  Like the other two treatments (enrichment and bleaching) it is independent of the others.

mariana's picture

No, neither your levain, nor the subsequent bulk fermentation would be affected.

Enriched flour might be better for starters, because it is more nutritious, but those vitamins are not exactly yeast food, and the amounts are so tiny that the fermentation times are all the same. I bake in a bread machine under strictly controlled conditions, so I would've noticed the difference in levain, dough and bread when switching flours. But no, no difference.

I prefer baking with unbleached enriched, but bleached enriched is my second choice. 

Unbleached and unenriched flour from Europe is wonderful as well, very tasty in bread and performs just as well.


cfraenkel's picture

Is the bane of my existence. I am allergic to something they use in the enrichment process. I live in Canada where by law all white flour has to be enriched, unless it is imported. (huh?) So I make trips to the US and come home with a freezer full of not enriched flour, or sometimes I find imported 00 flour from Italy when I'm in a pinch. I even tried making friends at a mill that is about an hour from my home to be told no way, they'd get in big trouble. So I mill my own flour (mostly) but when I want fluffy white flour, I hit the freezer. Sorry this didn't answer your question, but if you want to know about food additives, I read a LOT of labels and make a LOT of phone calls to manufacturers.