Author Topic: Difference between bread flour and all purpose?  (Read 3890 times)

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Offline rig9919

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Difference between bread flour and all purpose?
« on: July 12, 2007, 12:22:04 AM »
What's the difference in the flours? Does bread flour rise less? Taste better?

I used the pizza inn recipe and it called for all purpose so I used that. On this message board people say to use bread flour. I'm a little confused.

Offline scott r

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Re: Difference between bread flour and all purpose?
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2007, 04:40:58 AM »
rig, this is such a simple, but excellent question that I often wondered about when I first started baking.

In my experience higher gluten flour can be puffier and maybe even rise a bit more, but often at the expense of a chewier and more sturdy crust. The effects are created by the flours extra strong and more intense gluten network formed during mixing and fermenting.  Because of the stronger gluten network the dough has the ability to trap more air bubbles.  This is why you get a more potential rise out of high gluten flour. Oils and other softeners such as bromate, sugar, soy flour, ascorbic acid, enzymes etc. can help to reduce this chewier texture to achieve the desired mouthfeel for your crust and make the best of both worlds. This is especially important when you are baking at lower temperatures like you would find in the typical pizzeria or in a home oven. People that cook in high temperature ovens can often get away with using much lower protein flours since the high heat tends to give more rise and a softer texture than a lower temperature oven, reducing the need for the extra gluten or additives.

I must also point out that many other factors usually involved in mixing fermenting or handling can cause any flour to be extra chewy or puffy or not.

I have not noticed a huge difference in taste between higher and lower gluten flours, but I have read that lower tends to taste better. I find that the flavors of char, fermentation, or wild yeasts will always outshine the slight differences in flavor created by flour.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Difference between bread flour and all purpose?
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2007, 09:39:46 AM »

Another way to answer your question is to look at the specs for all-purpose and bread flours. An example, using King Arthur flours, is given at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/85e624febf29e4c7836066cc68c71648/miscdocs/BFS%20Specs%20-%20Customer%20Copy.pdf and http://www.kingarthurflour.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/528fa553a218e1e5566108ef6e4c55d9/miscdocs/Nutritional%20Analysis.pdf. In the charts, Sir Galahad and Special are the brand names used by King Arthur for its commercial (professional) versions of the all-purpose and bread flours sold to consumers at the retail level. Additional information on the capacity of the two flours to absorb water is given at this thread: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4646.msg39204.html#msg39204.

For the average home user of the flours, the most important differences in the two flours is the protein content, gluten forming capacities, and absorption (hydration) rates. All else being equal, and as noted by scott, the bread flour will produce a finished crust that is a bit higher (greater rise), a bit chewier and tougher, and a bit darker than one made using all-purpose flour. The bread flour crust will also have a bit more taste/flavor because of the higher-protein content. It should be noted, however, that since the dough for a typical cracker-style crust (such as the DKM Pizza Inn crust) is rolled out by either a commercial sheeter or rolling pin, most, if not all, of the height advantage that comes from using the bread flour goes away because the gasses in the dough are expelled by the rolling process. Also, when either flour is used for a cracker-style dough, the hydration will usually be much less than the rated absorption rates of the flours, with a hydration of 35-50% being typical of the dough formulations I have seen posted on this forum.

The members of this forum experiment with flours all the time so it would not be unnatural to see the two flours used somewhat interchangeably in recipes even though they produce somewhat different end results. Some members also use high-gluten flour, such as the King Arthur Sir Lancelot flour mentioned in the abovereferenced materials, for a cracker-style dough. The high-gluten flour will further accentuate the differences noted above.


EDIT (9/24/14): For the Wayback Machine version of the above inoperative first KA link, see http://web.archive.org/web/20060311133639/http://www.kingarthurflour.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/85e624febf29e4c7836066cc68c71648/miscdocs/BFS%20Specs%20-%20Customer%20Copy.pdf; for the second inoperative KA link, see http://web.archive.org/web/20060311133549/http://www.kingarthurflour.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/528fa553a218e1e5566108ef6e4c55d9/miscdocs/Nutritional%20Analysis.pdf