Some might say all-purpose flour is all that you need for baking as its name suggests. But is that always the case? Why else then would we have bread flour? Time to learn the differences between bread flour and all-purpose flour and when do you use them.
The Humble Bread.
Looking back, the humble bread has long been a staple food in our diet. It was about 8000 years ago that grains were first cultivated in agriculture in mankind’s first true civilization. It’s not hard to see how quickly bread grew to become so popular. Reasons are such as the ease that comes with growing them in big volumes; this made grains a great choice for ancient cities to grow to feed a large population. Aside from its growing capabilities, it was also not difficult to store grains. Grains that were harvested then could be stored for a long while making it a great staple food source. As such, men had always been able to farm grain in huge quantities and have sufficient leftovers to feed them throughout the year, from one harvest to the next.
So that’s part of the historical context. We have established that grains have always been a reliable source of food for people and thus, making it no surprise that cultural cuisines around the world include them in their own ways. Despite all the abundance of food that have been heaped upon us in a developing world where we don’t necessarily need bread anymore, we still love bread. Whether it’s a very deep-seated tradition that makes us respect it or the familiar and comforting taste we love, bread is here to stay.
What’s in your pantry?
Open your pantry and tell us what do you see? Probably different kinds of flour, yes? There’s also a high possibility of you owning a bag of all-purpose flour for your baked goods like biscuits, tarts, cookies, and cakes. What about bread flour then? Because we think having bread flour in your pantry might prove to be useful for you. Therein comes the question we are about to tackle here: What are the differences between bread flour and all-purpose flour, and when is it the right occasion to use them?
Let’s address the definition of flour before we dive into bigger things. The most basic kind of flour you can possibly get for baking is the wheat flour. It is first made through the milling process that wheat grains go through, the grains are then cleaned and tempered with water before they are grounded and sifted into a fine powder.
Made from hard spring wheat, that’s how we get a high-protein flour such as the bread flour. Bread flour is primarily used for bread baking due to its protein content; it typically contains about 10 to 13 percent protein compared to an all-purpose flour, which has 9 to 11 percent protein content. It’s also worth noting that its protein content is what gives a yeasted bread elasticity and structural integrity, also, how much a gluten can develop when you knead and bake it depends on the amount of protein in the flour you are using.
There are two main proteins within the flour known as gliadin and glutenin, that are important during the kneading process to combine so that gluten strands are formed. The action of kneading warms up those gluten strands allowing the proteins to expand during fermentation. This helps the molecules to stick to each other giving the dough more elasticity and an overall, better structure. Thanks to its protein content, bread flour has the ability to absorb liquid well and develop a stronger gluten structure giving you a beautiful lofty bread!
As its name suggests, the bread flour is ideal for you when it comes to baking bread, and especially if it’s yeast bread where its structure must be held and rise well for a lofty and airy loaf. Typically, bakers would use bread flour for when they are making dinner rolls, bagels, pizza dough, or even sourdough loaves.
The all-purpose flour, also known as AP flour, is a white flour that is made from the endosperm of hard and soft wheat varieties and is mild-flavored. There will be two wheat kernel components known as the bran and germ, and these two components will be separated from the endosperm during the all-purpose flour milling process. Because the bran and germ contain oils in them can cause spoilage, they are removed during the milling process so the all-purpose flour can have a longer shelf life than other whole-grain flours.
Compared to the bread flour, and all-purpose flour has a more extensive use. From its name being ‘all-purpose’, this flour does find itself in a wide range of applications. Anyone can use all-purpose flours in pretty much any recipe that calls for flour, which is includes and not limited to sweet and savory applications like moist muffins, buttery pie crusts, layered cakes, gooey brownies, and such. Aside from all the baked goods that you can incorporate all-purpose flour with, you can also use it as a base for dredging fish you want to fry or thicken your sauces and gravies making them richer.
The Differences between Bread Flour and All-Purpose Flour
Let’s dive in and take a closer look at the few differences between bread flour and all-purpose flour.
Firstly, the difference is in their protein content. The bread flour has a higher amount of protein, between 10 and 13 percent protein, while the all-purpose flour has a lower protein content, between nine and 11 percent. Secondly, the development of gluten. Because bread flour has a higher gluten content than all-purpose flour, bread doughs made with it will have a higher gluten content, giving the bread a better rise—you also get a bread with a stronger, crustier structure and better elasticity too. Last but not least, the amount of liquid they absorb. In terms of liquid absorption, bread flour absorbs liquid better than all-purpose flour due to its higher protein content. That also means bread flour will need more water than all-purpose flour to create the right dough consistency.
Can you substitute Bread Flour and All-Purpose Flour?
With people baking at home more often than ever now, the demand for bread flour and all-purpose flour has been increasing. So, if you are not rushing to the store fast enough, you might just find that plenty of flours being sold out. Thankfully, it’s not all that bad if you want to make a loaf of homemade bread even when the store is fresh out of bread flour, or when you have none in your pantry.
So, no bread flour? That’s where the all-purpose flour takes the spotlight because it works as a substitution for bread flour. So… the finished baked goods may not rise as high or develop as strong a structure as compared to using bread flour, but hey, it’s still kind of similar overall. And it’s better a lot better than having nothing. Interestingly enough, when it comes down to making tender baked goods, there are baking experts that encourage the use of all-purpose flour than bread flour—the reason being that the high amount of gluten from the bread flour can make your cakes tough or your cookies too chewy if you are not careful with it.
That said, if you do intend to substitute between bread flour and all-purpose, the general rule is that bread flour will always absorb more liquid than all-purpose flour. Bearing that in mind, if a recipe requires bread flour, just know that you will have to add in more liquid accordingly.
Delicious Bread recipes to try out.
So now that we have established the differences between those two flours, you should be trying out some bread recipes, because there’s nothing better at home than freshly baked bread. Here are some bread recipes for you to bake:
This Curry Chicken Bread made with our Rich’s Double Cream is extremely tasty. In our opinion, we believe that using our cream gives the dough a good amount of flavor without being overpowering. Adding the cream into the bread dough also helps the bread to remain soft for a longer amount of time too. A fun fact shared by our Chef who made this too is that, using Rich’s Double Cream in bread recipes would mean lesser kneading time too as the product results in a softer bread crumb texture! Pairing that into the delicious curry chicken filling too makes the curry much richer and tastier, and honestly, the taste is perfection. You get a moist and fluffy bread filled with amazing curry inside. So yes, we definitely think this recipe deserves more attention even though it’s simple. You will love it!
When you make this Korean Kimchi Cheese Bread fresh, the combination of the cheese and the bread together just melts in your mouth and it’s delicious. While some of you may not be a big fan of kimchi, we do intend to change your mind on that and say that the kimchi is one of the few pluses in this recipe. Using Rich’s Double Cream here too in the dough, cheese filling, and garlic butter sauce, makes everything even better. It also gets quite addicting too, each piece of bread is just amazing with every bite you take.
Hey, you might have noticed that both bread recipes call for our Rich’s Double Cream. Rich’s Double Cream is a multi-purpose dairy blend that is versatile and consists of up to 30% fat content—it can be used for culinary, pastry, and beverage applications. If you are up for learning more about this wonderful product, you might want to read Rich’s Double Cream for Easy Culinary Recipes and get one for yourself!
More from us.
Nothing brings people together quite like good food. The aromas and flavors; the shared enjoyment of every mouthful and seeing the smile on the faces we love, it’s beautiful. If you like what you are reading so far, feel free to explore our recipes and products for more inspiration—start sharing your favorite food moments with us.