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all purpose flour vs. bread flour

Last post Aug 31, 2009 7:31 PM by ScottsGrace . 2 replies.

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  • all purpose flour vs. bread flour

     what is the difference in all  purpose and bread flour.  Is it ok to switch them in a recipe?  Do you use the same amount if you can switch them?  Is pastry flour only used in pie crust?

  • Re: all purpose flour vs. bread flour

    Bread flour has a higher gluten content than all-purpose flour.  I have used all both kinds when I make yeast bread and I have to say I vastly prefer bread flour.  I hear you can use them in bread interchangeably, but I have to tell you-my yeast breads-both loaves and cinnamon rolls-come out SO much better when I use bread flour...and I always use less bread flour than the recipe calls for when it calls for all-purpose.  I don't use a bread machine or my KitchenAid dough hook to knead bread....I do the kneading by hand so I can "feel" when the dough has enough flour and I usually use at least 1 cup less bread flour than all-purpose flour.


    I've never used pastry flour so I can't help you there. When I make pie crust, I always use all-purpose flour.  I did see whole wheat pastry flour at the grocery store last week but don't know that I have any recipes here I'd use it in.


    Hope this helps you out!


  • Re: all purpose flour vs. bread flour

     Here you go Petey! Are you from Ohio? I am!


    Wheat Flour Basics:

    Wheat flour is the most common flour used in baking. There are different types of wheat flour, and they're distinguished by the amount of gluten they contain.

    Gluten is the wheat's natural protein, and it's what gives baked goods their structure. When dough is kneaded, these glutens develop and become firm. Flours made from hard, high-protein varieties of wheat are called strong flours. They have a higher gluten content. Flours made from softer, low-protein wheats are called weak flours, and are lower in gluten.

    All-Purpose Flour:

    All-purpose flour is formulated to have a medium gluten content of around 12 percent or so. This makes it a good middle-of-the-road flour that can be used for a whole range of baking, from crusty breads to fine cakes and pastries. Even so, most professional bakers don't use all-purpose flour but instead use either bread flour, cake flour or pastry flour, depending on what they are baking.

    One cup of all purpose flour will weigh around 4 ounces

    Bread Flour:

    Bread flour is a strong flour, meaning that it has a relatively high gluten content — usually around 13 to 14 percent. A handful of bread flour will feel coarse and will look slightly off-white. Bread flour is used for making crusty breads and rolls, pizza doughs and similar products.

    One cup of bread flour will weigh around 4½ ounces.

    Cake Flour:

    Cake flour is made from soft wheat and has a lower gluten content — around 7½ to 9 percent. Its grains are visibly finer than bread flour, and it is much whiter in color. Its fine, soft texture makes it preferable for tender cakes and pastries.

    One sifted cup of cake flour will weigh around 3½ ounces.

    Pastry Flour:

    Pastry flour is slightly stronger than cake flour, at around 9 to 10 percent gluten. It can be used for biscuits, muffins, cookies, pie doughs and softer yeast doughs. It has a slightly more off-white color than cake flour.

    One sifted cup of pastry flour will weigh just over 3½ ounces.

    Self-Rising Flour:

    Self-rising flour is a peculiar bird. It's basically ordinary all-purpose flour that has baking powder and salt added to it. Intended as a convenience, it's really anything but — the main problem being that there's no way to control how much baking powder it contains. Also, when stored in humid climates, the baking powder in the flour will quickly lose its effectiveness, making things even more unpredictable. Unless you have no other options, this type of flour is probably best avoided.


    Shannon's Notes -  You can make your own self rising flour in smaller batches so the baking powder doesn't lose its potency from sitting on the shelf. BP does expire. But if you're going to use Self Rising flour for a yeast bread...make your own but omit the salt.


    I have a very difficult time deciphering the line between boredom and hunger.