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October 11, 2009

Is there really a difference?

I have always used all-purpose flour for everything. It is the least expensive, and we are on a budget. It doesn't matter... it always works out. Well... sometimes works out. My sister, who has A LOT of allergies at her house, was taught a recipe for Milk and Egg Free bread. She shared this recipe with me. I have hesitated to make this recipe, because it uses Soy Lecithin in place of the milk and or eggs. It also calls for A LOT of Bread Flour. So I had to ask-

"What is the difference between All-Purpose, bread, and cake Flour?"

I've heard the density, the gluten. But honestly, I didn't understand. So I am hoping to shed some light and experience on this subject.

I looked it up on O Chef and learned this:

"Bread flour is a high-gluten flour that has very small amounts of malted barley flour and vitamin C or potassium bromate added. The barley flour helps the yeast work, and the other additive increases the elasticity of the gluten and its ability to retain gas as the dough rises and bakes. Bread flour is called for in many bread and pizza crust recipes where you want the loftiness or chewiness that the extra gluten provides. It is especially useful as a component in rye, barley and other mixed-grain breads, where the added lift of the bread flour is necessary to boost the other grains. All-purpose flour is made from a blend of high- and low-gluten wheats, and has a bit less protein than bread flour — 11% or 12% vs. 13% or 14%. You can always substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour, although your results may not be as glorious as you had hoped. There are many recipes, however, where the use of bread flour in place of all-purpose will produce a tough, chewy, disappointing result."
I also went to HubPages for the facts, and here they are:

"... The primary difference between different types of flour are the quantity of the wheat germ and bran that are milled with the flour, and the type of wheat used for the flour, and the relative protein content of that wheat.
Whole wheat flour is simply wheat that has been milled into flour with some, or all, of the germ and bran still attached...
The higher the protein content, the more gluten can be developed. These chains of gluten are important for bread, as they are what allow the dough to capture the created gasses during the cooking and leavening processes, and expand from dense to light. High gluten is not considered an asset when making pastries, pie crusts, biscuits etc, as the gluten can make these tough and chewy...
Cake flour is a low gluten flour that has also been chemically altered slightly for better use in cake baking.
Self raising flour is generally all purpose flour that has had baking powder mixed in, and do not require any additional baking powder to be added when making biscuits, pancakes or muffins.
Always look for flour labeled unbleached, as it tastes better, and store whole wheat flour in the fridge or freezer."

I went ahead an made the recipe using a mixture of White and Wheat flour. Hoping that the extra wheat would help in the lack of gluten in the all-purpose. But lo, I read on, AFTER I mixed, and found out that the proteins in Wheat don't have the same reaction as the gluten added to the bread flour. But... oh well, all ready done, let's see what happens?

This recipe makes about 4 loaves of bread. But can be used for things like rolls, bread sticks, cinnamon rolls, pizza dough. This recipe comes from Pantry Secrets.
I made rolls, bread sticks, and 2 loaves of bread. Some of them rose really well, others, not so well. As you can see in the next two pictures.

I think that using the Wheat flour usually makes the bread/ rolls hard as rock. But this time, they were fluffy and soft, even the ones that didn't rise so well.

My family gave me another idea for a food investigation. I enjoy learning. So I may do more Food Investigations again, soon.

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