How to turn your AP flour into Bread Flour

DON’T HATE ME: Because I’m beautiful

Plus if you have some Bob’s Red Mill Vital Gluten, you can turn any flour into “bread” flour:

Thanks! This will come in handy as I’ve just run out of BF

I would just use that flour at the 11.7 mark.

Have added gluten before and it’s not worth the effort. The difference is too minor.

BTW - did you write the purchase date on the bag?


They call themselves all purpose, but King Arthur and Heckers are both used by a lot of home breadmakers with perfectly fine results.

Save the gluten flour for this bialy recipe:


Edited for correctness.

That’s just a silly analogy. We’re talking about home bread making here, so if anything the comparison would have to be an even sillier analogy between an amateur making wine in their garage in Burgundy vs. an amateur making wine in their garage in Oregon. It’s one thing if you’ve got a professional oven, complete with steam injection. In that case sure, the incremental gluten content you get can make a subtle, but real, difference. But under normal home conditions, it all gets lost in the roundup. And if you do have professional equipment and are that serious, why aren’t you sourcing commercial quality bread flour instead of trying to MacGyver some stuff you bought at the supermarket?

I still maintain that Craig Claiborne’s wonderful bialy recipe is a much better use of gluten flour for the home cook.

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Curious if anyone knows of a simple primer on flour types, appropriate uses for different applications etc.? I know there are plenty of books out there on the topic, but curious if there is a cheat sheet of sorts that you’ve used as a go to reference?



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Joe - I don’t have a cheat sheet because I know different flours, but in addition to what was posted, here’s some more info:

Hard red spring wheat from the northern states has the highest protein content. It may be up to 12-14 percent, or even higher, sometimes hitting 16 percent. King Arthur whole wheat flour is made from hard red spring wheat at 14% protein. Stone Buhr Bread flour is over 16%. Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat is over 15.5%.

Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour is around 13.9 but it also has malt added. Malt helps in browning and gives the yeast something to eat.

King Arthur Bread Flour comes in at 12.7 and King Arthur all purpose comes in at 11.7.

General Mills Harvest King comes in at around 12%.

Moving down the protein scale from hard spring wheat would come hard winter wheat, which has a slightly lower protein number than hard spring wheat, roughly 10 -12 percent. There isn’t much difference between red and white wheat insofar as protein is concerned. White whole wheat is just a mutation of the gene that provides color.

Further down the protein scale is soft wheat, white or red, which has a protein content of maybe 8 percent and sometimes even less, depending on the producer. Soft wheat is usually winter wheat, grown in the east and the south where the winters are not as harsh as they are in the northern plains.

In the 1800s there were real regional differences in flour. Famous flours from the south like White Lily or Martha White or Red Band are from soft wheat and they’re milled finely. They’re one reason southern cooks were famous for biscuits and pastries. But soft winter wheat is actually grown in Yankee New York too and you can even buy some at the NYC Green Markets.

Farthest down the protein scale, something like “cake” flour may be 6 – 8% protein. In addition, it’s almost always bleached, which further breaks down the protein. Queen Guinevere Cake Flour, made by King Arthur, has a protein content of 8%.

There is yet another type of flour from durum wheat. That has the hardest kernels and the highest amount of protein. The Italians call the flour from hard durum wheat "semola di grano duro”, or “semola from hard grains”. “Semola”, unlike flour, is usually milled to a fairly large grain size that you can see with the naked eye. Instead of being powdery, the grains are so hard that when milled, the flour is actually granular. It is usually pale yellow as it is almost never bleached. “Semola” is what my mother called it and she first had it growing up in France so I suppose the word is the same in French as it is in Italian.

“Semolina” is the diminutive. In the US this flour used mostly for macaroni and pasta, although you can use it for bread, as in “pane di semola”. In central Europe they cook it on the stove like grits.

The more powdery flours come from softer wheat than durum. The Italians call them “flour from tender grains”, or “farina di grano tenero”. This includes all the flours discussed above.

Many of the flours have additions - usually vitamins like niacin, iron, riboflavin and folic acid, as well as malted barley.

There’s no legal definition of “bread” flour but it’s usually one of the company’s higher protein flours.

I’ve used all of the above as well as many others. Other than the soft flours, they’ll all do a good job for bread and pizza.

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Bookmarked, thank you. I appreciate the insight. I’ve always followed pretty regimented recipes that turn out fine, but I’d like to continue learning more about the process so I can make my own adaptations down the line.

Well in that case, here’s some additional insight. Or whatever.

The thing to remember is that all of these different flours produce slight variations in the dough, but the big thing that’s going to influence your final product is the heat.

Gluten can absorb up to 200% of its weight in water. When you bake a dough, as the temperature rises, the structure of gas and air bubbles in the dough forms, causing an increase in volume of the dough pieces. In other words, the “web” made of gluten fibers swells. At temperatures over
50°C or around 120F, the proteins start to denature and as the temp increases, the gluten coagulates. At that time moisture is released from the gluten and that hydrates and gelatinizes the starch.

So look at what you want to make. If you’re making a pizza for example, you typically want a high protein flour.

If you cook a high-protein flour at a relatively low temperature for a long time, it will get pretty hard because of what I described above. The gluten gives up its water, which is then baked out of the dough. That’s one reason a lot of home pizza is often disappointing. If you get a pizza out in under two minutes, or even under three, the dough will still retain enough moisture to give it the chewy quality you want. But if you cook it at a lower temp for say, six minutes or more, the dough will end up way too dry.

Typically if you want a tight and chewy crumb, you want a higher protein flour that’s cooked quickly.

If you use a lower protein flour for your pizza and cook it for a longer time than the two or three minutes, it sometimes actually works better because the gluten has not absorbed as much of the water, so there’s more water left in the dough to keep it from drying out entirely. The crumb won’t be quite the same, but it may give you a superior product.

And if you’re making something like a cracker or biscuit or cookie, a low protein dough is probably best. For those, it’s important that the surface of the item doesn’t dry too quickly so it can continue expanding. You want the surface to remain moist and flexible for as long as possible so your cookie gets a nice spread. Once that’s formed, you continue cooking to evaporate the rest of the water and to caramelize the crust.