Flour is the most important ingredient of a good loaf of bread. It’s used to make the dough that is then shaped and baked to create that delicious bread all bakers are looking for. However, not all flours are created equal, and some might be better suited for certain recipes than others. Find out what kind of flour you need, how to choose it and other tips on making your own bread!
So, what is the best flour for bread?
There are many different kinds of flours out there, but two main ones: all-purpose flour and bread flour. They can be used interchangeably to make a nice loaf of bread, but each one has its own properties that makes it better suited for certain recipes:
All-purpose flour – All-purpose flour is the most common variety of flour out there. It was created as a compromise for all different kinds of recipes where flours need to be substituted, so it can be used in any recipe that calls for white or wheat flour. The main difference between these two flours and all-purpose flour is the amount of protein they contain, and since protein is a necessary component for bread to rise nicely, all-purpose flour has more of it than white or wheat flours. This makes it better suited for recipes that need to rise like cakes or yeast rolls, where you want the dough to puff up as much as possible after baking.
Plain Flour Vs Wholemeal Flour: Which Is Healthier?
Bread flour – Bread flour was created specifically for making bread. It contains a higher amount of protein than all-purpose flour and less carbs than whole wheat flours. The high amount of protein causes the dough to bind more easily together so you don’t need as much kneading time compared to when using other kinds of flours. It also allows the dough to hold onto its moisture longer which is better for bread with a nice, soft crust.
When you’re making your own bread from scratch, it’s best to use bread flour since all-purpose flour will result in a crumbly texture and a dough that’s hard to handle. However, this doesn’t mean that all-purpose flour can’t be used – it still makes an acceptable loaf of bread as long as you take more care when kneading and shaping it.
Your choice of flour really depends on what type of recipe you want to make. If you’re planning to make some yeast rolls or pastries, choose white or wheat flours; if you want rustic country style loaves of bread, use bread flour.
Flour is not the only factor that determines how your bread will turn out though, so here are a few other tips on getting great tasting bread every time:
Use warm water – Water temperature can affect yeast dough, so make sure you’re using lukewarm or even slightly warmer water when making yeast recipes like bread. Cold water might kill the yeast and leave pockets of air trapped in the dough while hot water would kill off gluten strands before they have time to bond together properly. The result? You’ll end up with a flat loaf of bread that doesn’t rise properly. Use bottled spring water for best results!
Use high-quality ingredients – A lot of recipes will call for refined white sugar instead of brown sugar, or white flour instead of whole wheat. You should give it a try the healthier way first to avoid any substitutions in your recipe. For brown sugar, my recommendation is Muscovado Sugar since it goes well with yeast breads and desserts.
Food Science: When Should You Refrigerate Flour? The reason for this is that refined white sugar tends to be drier than brown sugar so using it will result in a dryer texture which will absorb more liquid from other ingredients. Same goes for all-purpose flour vs bread flour – see above for the reasons why you might want to make these changes!
Let dough rise properly – Yeast dough needs time to rise nicely before baking so that air pockets can form and the texture will be nice and fluffy. Letting it rise for too long or not enough could kill off your yeast, so be sure to check out our easy bread-making tips here for more information on this!
Wrap dough nicely – Leaving dough exposed to air can dry it out and cause a crusty layer over the loaf instead of a soft one. To prevent this from happening, you want to shape your dough in a way that allows it to rise as much as possible without being exposed to hot oven temperatures . For example, when making an oblong shaped roll or loaf of bread, make sure you place the seam side down in your pan (see pictures below). This creates a space between the top and bottom halves of dough to prevent it from shrinking too much.
If you are using a bread machine, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to shape your dough. If you’re working with just one or two loaves of bread, try shaping them around clean empty water bottles for best results. Just make sure that the water bottle is tall enough so that when you place your shaped loaf in the pan, its seam side will land against the bottom of the pan and not exposed to hot oven temperatures!
There we go – there are more factors than flour used to determine how good your bread would turn out. So as long as you use good quality flour, give it time to rise properly and wrap it up nicely before baking.
You will need to put in a lot of work and make corrections along the way, but you can achieve that perfect result every time.