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Your Ultimate Guide to Buying and Baking with Bread Flour
Bread flour is a high-gluten, high-strength flour used to make pizza dough, crusty breads, pretzels, bagels, and other chewy baked products. Yeast breads prepared with bread flour tend to rise more because the higher protein content creates more structure. Baking has recently become an extremely popular hobby, with so many people taking up the practice that there was a significant flour shortage. Fortunately, that appears to be a thing of the past, so if you have been unable to try your hand at baking a cake, cookies, or a loaf of bread, now may be the time.
What Basically Is Bread Flour
Different wheat strains are inherently stronger in protein than others, and they are utilized to make different flours for various applications. High-protein wheat is described as "hard," and the flour made from it as "powerful." Bread flour is a hard flour that is often manufactured from hard red spring wheat, a kind recognized for its high protein content (gluten), which adds chewiness and structure to baked foods. Bread flour has a coarse texture and an off-white tint, whereas all-purpose flour has a finer texture and a whiter color. If you put bread flour and all-purpose flour side by side, you'd notice a big difference.
Gluten level in bread flour ranges from 12 to 16 percent, depending on the brand. In comparison, all-purpose flour typically has 8 to 11 percent gluten. While many bread recipes call for all-purpose flour, bread flour works well for baked items that need to be chewy and crusty with lots of rise. You can either look for recipes that call for bread flour or just replace it with all-purpose flour.
Using Bread Flour in Recipes
One distinction between baking with bread flour and all-purpose flour or cake flour is that bread flour is typically used in yeast-leavened recipes. Chemical leavening agents such as baking powder and baking soda are commonly employed in the preparation of meals such as cakes, quick breads, muffins, and pancakes, which require soft and tender texture, hence all-purpose or cake flour is typically utilized. In the case of bread flour, however, you almost always use yeast, or in the case of sourdough, a natural starter, which is simply a type of wild yeast.
Bread flour, like all flours, must be measured accurately, and the best way to do it is by weight. This is more exact than using volume measurements like cups and ensures that your recipes work out correctly. A "cup" of bread flour can range from 120 to 140 grammes, depending on the brand. Therefore, it is beneficial to use recipes created by the producer of your specific kind of flour, especially if their flour measurements are in grams. Fortunately, it's more usual these days to discover recipes that specify flour quantities by weight rather than volume, which eliminates all guesswork.
Look, Taste and Smell of Bread Flour
Bread flour is not something you would eat on its own, and it has no flavor other than a bland, dry, powdery flavor. Bread flour flavors foods in two ways: first, from the other components, such as yeast, sugar, salt, and fats, and second, from the caramelization of starches that occurs when the dough or batter is cooked (i.e., when it turns brown in the oven).
Substitute for Bread Flour
If a recipe calls for bread flour and you only have all-purpose flour, simply swap all-purpose flour and the recipe will turn out great. Remember that if a recipe specifies the amount of flour in grammes, simply use the same amount of whatever sort of flour you are substituting.
If you are very determined, you can produce your own bread flour by combining crucial wheat gluten with all-purpose flour. To prepare a cup of bread flour, weigh out 125 grams of all-purpose flour, then remove 1 teaspoon of flour and replace it with 1 teaspoon of essential wheat gluten. To blend, whisk or sift the ingredients together thoroughly.
Storage of Bread Flour
Bread flour can be kept in a cold, dry place, such as a pantry, for 6 to 8 months if the package is firmly sealed. If you live in a hot or humid climate, seal the unsealed flour bag in a large plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator.