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What is the difference between all-purpose flour and bread flour?

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wildeyed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 09:40 AM
Original message
What is the difference between all-purpose flour and bread flour?
It is snowing and I am stuck in the house with the kids all day, so I thought I would try bread making.

I have all-prose flour and cake flour but the recipe calls for bread flour. Can I substitute the all-purpose? I have learned the hard way not to be too cavalier with substitutions when baking.
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bearfan454 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 09:44 AM
Response to Original message
1. I'm not exactly sure but I do know that
unbleached flour is what is called for to make pizza crusts. I use all purpose flour for my gravy.
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wildeyed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 09:49 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I ma not even 100% sure what kind of flout I have.
I take it out of the package and put it into a canister for storage. I am assuming it is all-purpose, but it could be unbleached.
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 09:49 AM
Response to Original message
3. find some recipes that call for all purpose flour (they exist) IIRC
from my reading last night there is a higher percentage of gluten in bread flour, less in AP and even less in cake flour

http://www.baking911.com/pantry_flour,grains.htm#WHEAT%... :

link has more info
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wildeyed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 09:52 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Thanks Azdem, I will try to find an all-purpose recipe.
Either that or make a quick dash to the grocery before the roads ice up.
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eyesroll Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-29-05 11:33 AM
Response to Original message
5. Bread flour is higher in protein than APF.
Where do you live?

If you live in the South, don't try making break with APF, because there, it's formulated to be lower in protein/better for biscuits.

In the North, APF is *usually* OK for bread. The texture may be a little different, but it still should be good.

Stay away from the cake flour, though.
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-02-05 01:24 PM
Response to Original message
6. I hope your bread came out okay
Edited on Wed Feb-02-05 01:25 PM by wryter2000
Sorry to be late...

Bread flour or hard flour is made from winter wheat, which is high in gluten. Gluten is the stuff that makes dough stringy, which is what holds in the gas bubbles, which make the bread rise. It also makes the bread chewy. Great for bread.

Cake flour is soft flour and is low in gluten. It's great when you want something tender but without any structure. It's great for cakes and pastry (pie) crusts.

All purpose flour is a combination. You can use it as a substitute for bread flour or cake flour. It may not be perfect, but it'll be close. I wouldn't substitute cake flour for bread flour or vice versa, though.
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eleny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-02-05 01:59 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Gluten question
If you have APF flour, can you then add some gluten to it for making bread?

I was at the health food market the other day picking up some rye flour. They keep various size bags of flour in their fridge and I found some gluten, too. I got a very small bag of gluten just in case as I saw someone post about adding a bit to flour for their bread. I take it that I wouldn't add gluten to rye flour but maybe to an APF or bread flour?
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Stinky The Clown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-02-05 03:28 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. I'm not at all sure what that is
I am also waaaaay not sure it can be added to flour to up the gluten level. Gluten is a pretty precise science. It is measured down to the tenths of a percent. Even flours labeled that same don't have the same gluten. King Arthur flours, for example, are almost always higher than anyone else's (they are also far and away the very best there is).

Actually, go to their web site. I'm sure it explains all of this better than I suspect anyone here can.

Here's the web site:

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/cgibin/start/ahome/main....

PS, if you love to bake, their book is a must have!
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eleny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-02-05 06:28 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. Thanks!
I can get KA flour at my supermarket. I picked up the tiny bag of gluten when I remembered someone mentioning that they added a smidge when making their homemade bread. I can toss it as it was a very small bag and very cheap.

Thanks also for the KA site. I'll check it out. Baking at high altitude, I can use any help I can learn.
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-02-05 07:00 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. i got some KA flour the other day. I went to get cake flour for my
new "monster" determined to get a cake "right"

they sold cake flour by the half pound for about $3

Duncan Hines cake mixes were on sale for $1 each


guess which I came home with ;)

but I did pick up some KA APF for H2S's pasta "volcano" recipe
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Stinky The Clown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-02-05 07:49 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. "High Altitude Baking"
Where are you that you're at high altitude? I passed through Denver on Sunday to change planes. I am always amazed at how winded I get due to the higher altitude. I spent a weekend in Aspen a few years ago and was barely functional for the first day. That same weekend I had to go through Vail Pass. Is there even any oxygen up there???????? :)
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eleny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-02-05 09:05 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Hee!
We live in Lakewood - about 8 miles west of Denver. 'Tween Denver and the mountains. I never have had that "winded" problem. I've been here since '76.
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Mandate My Ass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-03-05 06:19 PM
Response to Reply #10
15. I add gluten to my homemade breads
Often when baking I use a blend of flours and for that extra oomph I put a pinch or two of gluten into the dough. I've had excellent results with it especially when using whole wheat flours or as an addition to my foccacia. Just remember, a little bit goes a long way.
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Stinky The Clown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-03-05 08:06 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. Do you measure when you add the gluten?
Or is more a touch and feel kinda thing?

Once added, is there anything one needs to keep in mind? Longer/shorter knead or fermentation? Lower or higher temperature for baking? That sort of thing.
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Mandate My Ass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-04-05 09:36 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. It is a touchy feely thing for me
I get better results on my foccacia particularly when I add a little extra gluten (I also add some honey to my yeast). I've noticed a better rise and a more chewy texture when I use it than when I don't.

Kneading is always by feel for me so I stop when it feels like I should but I haven't noticed any significant increase in kneading/rise/baking time.

Additional gluten is recommended for higher altitudes.
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Stinky The Clown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-04-05 09:53 AM
Response to Reply #17
19. Ahhhhh .... Higher altitudes.
Are you at a higher altitude? I'm essentially at sea level.
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Mandate My Ass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-04-05 01:57 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. I'm at sea level too
That's why I have to have a very light hand when the extra gluten goes in. Even a pinch too much will make your bread hard and dry but I've been lucky so far. I know eleny had asked about higher altitude baking and that gluten is especially helpful in preventing those dreadful collapses that can happen there.
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wryter2000 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-02-05 03:41 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. I don't know if that would work
I've never heard of adding gluten to flour. I have no idea if that would work.

One thing about gluten, though, is that it develops with heat and exercise (for lack of a better word). "Working" the dough, such as kneading "develops" the gluten. That's why ingredients for pie crust are kept as cold as possible and why you try to handle the dough as little as possible. You don't want the long strands of gluten to form.

APF is fine for most things. You only really need to buy cake flour or bread flour if you do a lot of baking. Otherwise, use APF for everything.
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eleny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-02-05 06:29 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Thanks so much
I'm going to read up and learn more about all this. At least I only purchased a tiny bag of it. I wonder if I can do some fun science experiments with it!
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Mandate My Ass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-04-05 09:52 AM
Response to Reply #11
18. I just found this-info with some exact measurements
Also keep in mind that you can add vital wheat gluten (glutina de trigo) to just about any wheat flour (harina de trigo) to increase its protein content. When adding gluten to a flour, remember that for each 250grams that you add to 22.5 Kg of flour you will increase the total protein content of the flour by 0.6%. For example: If you have 22.5 Kg flour with 10% protein content and you add 500 grams of gluten, the protein content of the flour will now be 11.2%; if you were to add 1.250 Kg of gluten to the flour the protein content would increase to 13%, and so on.
I hope this helps,

Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

http://www.pmq.com/cgi-bin/tt/index.cgi/noframes/read/6...
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SOteric Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-04-05 03:04 PM
Response to Original message
21. Bread flour is made from hard wheat,
AP flour is made from softer wheat, typically in a blend. Cake flour from only the softest wheat and is aerated to improve the softness even further.

What that means for baking is that the product will develop gluten better with a harder wheat. When you bake, you knead a product to develop the gluten. Your dough get's elastic and stretchy and has the consistency of an earlobe. That's the action of the gluten in hard wheats.

If you're using your flour to make a roux or a gravy, pie crust or if you're using it in a quick bread (muffins, pound cake, etc.) then you don't necessarily need the high gluten content. In fact, rubbery, elastic cake and muffin batters are likely to give you something with a the texture of a hockey puck in end result.

You can substitute AP for bread flour with better success than you can substitute bread flour for AP flour. You'll just have to knead a bit longer to get the dough the correct texture before you proof it.
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