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Old 11-15-2007, 08:43 AM   #1
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Bleached vs. Unbleached Flour

What is the difference between bleached and unbleached flour? What are the advantages of using one over the other - or - what do you use one for vs. the other? Is there a huge difference?

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Old 11-15-2007, 08:47 AM   #2
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I read once that the bleaching just takes more of the good for you stuff out of the flour, other than that it's just color?

We use bleached at work, otherwise the bagels look sorta sickly - colored.
I made some cherry cookies woth unbleached last year and they looked funny too.... but didn't taste any different. I still ate 'em!
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Old 11-15-2007, 08:55 AM   #3
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A quick google:

All-purpose flour is a blend of hard and soft wheat; it may be bleached or unbleached. It is usually translated as "plain flour." All-purpose flour is one of the most commonly used and readily accessible flour in the United States. Flour that is bleached naturally as it ages is labeled "unbleached," while chemically treated flour is labeled "bleached." Bleached flour has less protein than unbleached. Bleached is best for pie crusts, cookies, quick breads, pancakes and waffles. Use unbleached flour for yeast breads, Danish pastry, puff pastry, strudel, Yorkshire pudding, éclairs, cream puffs and popovers.
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Old 11-15-2007, 08:58 AM   #4
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Thanks so much! That was fast!
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Old 11-15-2007, 09:13 AM   #5
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I use unbleached flour for everything. For some

reason the word bleached just doesn't appeal to me when it is describing my food.
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Old 11-15-2007, 09:48 AM   #6
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Technical descriptions aside, there is little or no discernible difference between the two.
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Old 11-15-2007, 10:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Technical descriptions aside, there is little or no discernible difference between the two.
Thanks Andy M - all of the sudden I'm getting confused - I never paid much attention to it until my mom asked me if I knew the difference....I knew I would find the answer here!
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Old 11-15-2007, 10:20 AM   #8
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Bleaching is simply using a chemical to hasten the process of whitening the flour. The endosperm has a natural yellow pigment. Although this pigment fades with exposure to air, flour producers often try to speed up the process using chemical bleaching agents. Bleaching has nothing to do with protein content. High protein flour (for breads) or low protein flour (for pies, cookies) can be bleached.

Another term often on the labels of flour is "bromated". Buy a bag of King Arther flour and you'll see the phrase "Never Bleached. Never Bromated". Flour performs better and more consistently if it's been aged a bit after milling. It can be a bit expensive to let the flour just sit around to age so some producers use chemicals like potassium bromate to chemically age their flours quickly. Producers like King Arther, age their flours naturally.

My own choice when using white flour is unbleached flour that has not been bromated. As for whole wheat, I grind my own.

Michael
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Old 11-20-2007, 12:28 AM   #9
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There's not just a difference between bleached and unbleached, but also between flours of different regions. I use a Southern bleached all-purpose flour for biscuits, pancakes, and muffins; basically anything that's leavened with baking powder. I use unbleached and bread flours which have a much higher gluten content for making breads and pizza crust.

Some southern bleached flours are white lily and martha white. Northern all-purpose flours will have a higher gluten content. I know King Arthur is one. Then there are some nationwide flours which fall in between, such as Gold Medallion and Pillsbury.

The main reason to use bleached or unbleached is gluten content. If you don't want to take my word for it, make biscuits with unbleached and make them with bleached, given both are all-purpose. The lower gluten content flour makes for biscuits that are more dense and moist.
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