Picture this: your apron is tied on tight, the oven is preheating, and the ingredients for your favorite bread are spread out before you—all, of course, except your bread flour. Can you substitute all-purpose flour? Or will your dreams of the perfect loaf crumble before your eyes?
Your choice of flour can affect the texture, rise, and density of your baked goods. Avoid confusion by learning the differences between the two most-used types of flour: all-purpose flour and bread flour. After learning about what sets them apart from each other, you’ll be prepared to embark on your next baking journey!
Two Most Common Types of Flour
The main differences between bread flour and all-purpose flour are their gluten and protein content, as well as a substantial difference in cost. Bread flour is typically more expensive than all-purpose flour, as it tends to produce better results for those ambitious at-home bakers.
So, with those differences established, can you substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour, or vice-versa? Absolutely! However, if the recipe calls for a specific type of flour, it’s always best to go with that. Save substitutions for true baking emergencies.
All-Purpose Flour: Protein and Gluten Content
All-purpose flour, as the name implies, works in every recipe that calls for flour. Although bread flour has more protein than all-purpose flour, all-purpose flour still has a protein content of 11.7%. In your bread, protein helps keep your crust firm and adds a soft, chewy texture, but all-purpose flour is also ideal for cookies and pie crusts.
Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, so as a general rule, flour with high protein content will also be high in gluten. Gluten helps form the bread’s chewy texture and helps the dough rise. At-home bakers should aim for a gluten content between 11% and 13%. Because it has a gluten content of 8-11%, all-purpose flour can be used for bread, but it’s better suited for treats like waffles and pastries.
Bread Flour: Protein and Gluten Content
Bread flour is best used in recipes that also require yeast, as the high protein content increases the bread’s rise. Bread flour boasts a protein content of 12.7% to help build stability and form in the dough. The gluten content in bread flour is 12-14%, making the dough chewier and airier than it would be than if made with all-purpose flour.
You can use bread flour for other kinds of yeast baking, including artisan breads, dinner rolls, rustic loaves, and baguettes. Out of bread flour? Substitutions are fine—just keep in mind your loaf’s rise may be affected.
Bread Flours at Backwards Bread
At Backwards Bread, we use a few trusted brands to craft our wide selection of pan breads, organic sourdoughs, and more. You won’t be surprised to hear us mention King Arthur flour—since 1970, they’ve been a staple for bread makers everywhere. Responsibly sourced and never bleached, King Arthur flour offers the consistency we need to continuously produce crowd-pleasing carbs.
As a small business, we know how important it is to support our local economy, and we believe maintaining personal relationships with our millers makes the final loaf taste that much better. We’re proud to source our flour from several local Minnesota mills, including Sunrise Mill, Sunset Creek Farm, and Bay State Milling, based out of North Branch, Albany, and Winona, respectively.
Looking for a local resource to fill your flour needs? Backwards Bread carries Sunset Creek rye and wheat flour at our St. Cloud location. We also sell Sunrise Mill heritage grain flour on demand. Stop in or inquire online, and we’ll help you choose the best option for you.
You don’t have to be a master baker to enjoy delicious breads. At Backwards Bread, our mission is simple: providing delicious, nutritious bread. Check out our menu to see what we’re offering today, or order online.