"Discover Cooking, Discuss Life."

Go Back   Discuss Cooking - Cooking Forums > Recipes & Ingredients > Desserts, Sweets & Cookies & Candy > Cookies
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 12-10-2012, 09:21 AM   #1
Senior Cook
 
callmaker60's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Camp Hill, Pa.
Posts: 230
Flour question

What's the difference in using all purpose flour or unbleached?

__________________

__________________
callmaker60 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-10-2012, 10:09 AM   #2
Certified Pretend Chef
 
Andy M.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 41,378
All purpose flour can be bleached or unbleached. There's no real difference.

Other flours besides all purpose (cake flour, bread flour) can also be either bleached or unbleached. The bleaching process is separate and can be used on any type flour. All it does is make the flour whiter.
__________________

__________________
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
Andy M. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-10-2012, 10:20 AM   #3
Senior Cook
 
callmaker60's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Camp Hill, Pa.
Posts: 230
Thanks Andy.
__________________
callmaker60 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-10-2012, 01:43 PM   #4
Head Chef
 
GLC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Near Austin, Texas
Posts: 1,216
Know, too, that there is the more common red wheat and also white wheat. All-purpose flours are made from hard red wheat. The freshly milled flour appear yellowish. Over time, the flour is naturally bleached to a whiter color by oxidizing action. "Bleached" flour is whitened more rapidly and completely using harmless chemical treatment. So, all flour is bleached, but accelerated bleaching earns it the "Bleached" label and it's "pure" white color.

Chemically bleached flour is different in more than color. But the differences may not be important to most bakers. The differences, in fact, can be a difference in preference for finely textured "white bread" or more toned rustic end products. But it's not easy to tell which way all of the effects will go. Bleaching affects the color, but bleached flour is also artificially aged, and some maturing agents enhance gluten formation, while some depress it. Obviously, the difference is not huge, but it can be observed by experienced bakers.

Chlorine is a bleaching and maturing agent with many different effects, too many to get into here, but they are generally not good effects for bread. Most bleached flours for home baking are treated with chlorine.

If the consumer can tell the difference, bread from bleached flour may appeal more to the modern eye. A few people can detect the chemical or gas residue.

Obviously, whole wheat flour begins darker. It may or may not be bleached. Or, it may be made with white wheat, and then it comes to you distinctly off-white but not brown, and any miller going to the trouble of using white wheat is also likely to leave it unbleached and promote it as such.
__________________
"Kitchen duty is awarded only to those of manifest excellence..." - The Master, Dogen
GLC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-20-2012, 06:21 AM   #5
Senior Cook
 
Kitchen Barbarian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by GLC View Post

Chlorine is a bleaching and maturing agent with many different effects, too many to get into here, but they are generally not good effects for bread. Most bleached flours for home baking are treated with chlorine.
Actually very little bleached flour for home baking is treated with chlorine. None of the national brands of All Purpose flour are bleached via chlorination (Gold Medal, Pillsbury). I doubt any of the grocery store brands are either as bleaching via chlorination is a more expensive process usually reserved for cake flour (which undergoes additional processing having to do with how finely it is ground and how thoroughly it is sifted to remove bran etc)

The only retail flour I know of for sure that is bleached via chlorination is White Lily. Some other southern brands, such as Martha White, may also be bleached via chlorination but I've not specifically checked into those. Cake flour is nearly always bleached via chlorination (except for a handful of specialty cake flours that are marketed as "unbleached").

When I was a child nearly all AP flour was still bleached via chlorination but it's been decades since that has been true of the mainstream brands.

Chlorine is a maturing agent as well as a bleach. It breaks down some of the larger starches in ways that enhance absorption (the ability to hold water) and reduce the ability of the flour to form gluten - eg it is said to "weaken" gluten. This is great for cakes which are foams and rely on starch structures for form and texture, but lousy for breads which rely on gluten for structure and texture.

Nearly all flour available to home bakers today (if it is bleached) is bleached via a peroxidation process. This process has only a whitening effect, and has no maturing effect (eg does not change the structure of the flour).

There are a few flours that are treated with ascorbic acid (Vit C) but the only one I know of that is available to home bakers is White Lily bread flour. Ascorbic acid is a maturing agent that enhances gluten development, hence it's presence in a bread flour. It has no whitening effect.
__________________
Kitchen Barbarian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-20-2012, 04:53 PM   #6
Executive Chef
 
bakechef's Avatar
Site Moderator
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 4,082
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitchen Barbarian View Post
Actually very little bleached flour for home baking is treated with chlorine. None of the national brands of All Purpose flour are bleached via chlorination (Gold Medal, Pillsbury). I doubt any of the grocery store brands are either as bleaching via chlorination is a more expensive process usually reserved for cake flour (which undergoes additional processing having to do with how finely it is ground and how thoroughly it is sifted to remove bran etc)

The only retail flour I know of for sure that is bleached via chlorination is White Lily. Some other southern brands, such as Martha White, may also be bleached via chlorination but I've not specifically checked into those. Cake flour is nearly always bleached via chlorination (except for a handful of specialty cake flours that are marketed as "unbleached").

When I was a child nearly all AP flour was still bleached via chlorination but it's been decades since that has been true of the mainstream brands.

Chlorine is a maturing agent as well as a bleach. It breaks down some of the larger starches in ways that enhance absorption (the ability to hold water) and reduce the ability of the flour to form gluten - eg it is said to "weaken" gluten. This is great for cakes which are foams and rely on starch structures for form and texture, but lousy for breads which rely on gluten for structure and texture.

Nearly all flour available to home bakers today (if it is bleached) is bleached via a peroxidation process. This process has only a whitening effect, and has no maturing effect (eg does not change the structure of the flour).

There are a few flours that are treated with ascorbic acid (Vit C) but the only one I know of that is available to home bakers is White Lily bread flour. Ascorbic acid is a maturing agent that enhances gluten development, hence it's presence in a bread flour. It has no whitening effect.
I believe that Pillsbury bread flour has added ascorbic acid.
__________________
I'm Bloggin'

http://bakingbetter.com
bakechef is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-20-2012, 05:16 PM   #7
Certified Cake Maniac
 
LPBeier's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: The Great "Wet" North, Surrey, BC
Posts: 18,935
I don't know the technical details, (but appreciate them, a very interesting read ) but I do know I prefer unbleached flour.
__________________
Living gluten/dairy/sugar/fat/caffiene-free and loving it!


http://beinglydia.com
LPBeier is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-20-2012, 11:51 PM   #8
Senior Cook
 
Kitchen Barbarian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by bakechef View Post
I believe that Pillsbury bread flour has added ascorbic acid.
As of a few months ago they assured me they had not, but if they have, it will be listed as an ingredient. Like potassium bromate, it stays in the flour.

Chlorination and peroxidation are gas-based processes that leave very little "stuff" in the flour so they don't have to be listed as ingredients, but ascorbic acid and potassium bromate are actually added to the flour in solid form and remain there, so they are required by law to be listed as ingredients.

Potassium bromate has fallen out of favor in many quarters due to fears that it may negatively impact health so you are unlikely to find it in a consumer-level product anymore. To my knowledge, all the Con-Agra mills flours now sold through Costco and Sam's Club are now treated via a peroxidation process - up to about 2 years ago they were still using potassium bromate, but last I checked I couldn't find an area where that was still being used. You can tell for sure by checking the ingredients list.

However it is still pretty commonly used in many commercial level flour products in 50 and 100 lb bags, and it is still often used to make pre-packaged bread for resale.

You should also see some form of malt listed as an ingredient for the many flours that are malted. Malted barley (usually) or some other malted grain is an additive that aids in the development of yeasted doughs. It contains alpha and beta amylase enzymes which break down carbohydrates (starches, all flour contains at least some starches) into fermentable sugars, which feed the yeast. This is especially helpful in retarded (cold ferment) doughs.
__________________
Kitchen Barbarian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-21-2012, 12:58 AM   #9
Senior Cook
 
Kitchen Barbarian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 160
Most people can't tell the difference between a bleached and an unbleached flour. If you can then you should obviously choose the one that tastes best to you.

The only place it makes a huge difference in performance is when a flour is bleached via chlorination. You get much MUCH lighter cakes with a bleached cake flour than with unbleached. You will get soup instead of bread dough with a chlorinated flour though, LOL!

There is a heat process that approximates the effect of chlorination on flour, you can google "Kate Flour" if you want to read about a home method approximating this process. Unfortunately no flour is so treated in this country, to my knowledge (this country being the USA), and even in the EU where it is being produced it is not available to home bakers but only to commercial bakeries in commercial quantities. Since chlorination of flour is one of the many maturing processes that is banned in the EU, cake baking has become an exercise in disappointment for many who yearn for the light fluffy cakes possible before the ban. Hence, the development of "Kate Flour".

There is no difference in performance between flours that have been merely whitened (eg where the bleaching agent has no maturing effect on the flour) and those that are "unbleached" - when the flours being compared are the same in all other respects. However, many bleached flours in the USA are blends of soft/white spring/summer wheat varieties, while many (but by no means all) unbleached flours are intended for bread and are usually comprised solely of hard wheat varieties with the higher protein content that make for better bread.

Pillsbury's bread flour is 100% hard red spring wheat and is nominally 12% protein; I'm not sure how tight the tolerance is on that, I couldn't get them to tell me. I would guess it varies around 12% by probably +/- 0.25%, at least.

GM bread flour is a mixture of hard/soft winter wheat and is nominally in the range of 11.7% to 12.3%. Again, I do not have any information on how tight the tolerance is but it varies by at LEAST that much. Also, the varying amounts of hard vs soft winter wheats introduces additional variation in performance due to a fluctuation in the proportion of gliadin vs glutenin. It's perfectly usable for bread, don't get me wrong, but it's a bit temperamental for something like artisan loaves or (especially) a baguette.

I think the GM flour is bleached but the Pillsbury bread flour is not. I'm not positive though; I didn't write that down in my notes.

King Arthur bread flour is 100% hard red winter wheat. It is unbleached. It is 11.7% protein, within 0.02% tolerance (very tight, and hence very uniform between batches).

Although hard red spring wheat is nominally a little higher in protein content than the hard red winter wheat, many bakers prefer the winter wheat nevertheless when baking bread because most varieties have a slightly different proportion of glutenin to gliadin (the proteins mainly responsible for the development of gluten networks). The proportion of gliadin (helps with extensibility/stretchiness) to glutenin (helps with elasticity/recovery) is felt to be more favorable in general in most hard red spring wheats; hence the thought is you get better oven spring and a better handling dough.

Which brings us back to relative performance in bread. Many of the "tests" of bleached vs unbleached flours that I have seen reported are comparing King Arthur AP flour to GM or Pillsbury AP flour (or both) and there just is no comparison because they are totally different types of wheat. They report the difference in performance is because the KAF AP flour is unbleached and the other two are bleached, but they are actually not even comparing apples to oranges, they're comparing apples to pomegranates. KAF AP flour is not REALLY an "all purpose" flour, it's a bread flour.

Mainstream retail AP flour produced for consumer sales runs right around 10% to 10.5%, with a range of 9.8% to 12% - you will generally find it on the higher end of the scale in the northern USA and towards the lower end of the scale in the southern USA. What this means is that sometimes - sometimes, but you can't be sure when - you can get a decent bread out of a retail AP flour, but sometimes all it's good for is biscuits. Note that regional northern brands such as Robin Hood or Dakota Maid are more similar to KAF AP flour, but the national brands vary too much to turn out reliable bread.

More appropriate comparisons of KAF AP flour to actual bread flours are less clear regarding relative "superiority" for bread. Generally KAF AP flour is felt to be superior, but that result is moderated by the fact that KAF AP flour is a much more uniform and reliable product because of the much tighter standards at the mill. That's a real effect but it's not due to bleached vs unbleached.

When I can't get KAF AP flour, I prefer either Con-Agra bread flour from Costco or Sam's, or failing that, Pillsbury bread flour or a mixture of Pillsbury bread flour in a 3:1 ratio with the GM bread flour. I don't care for GM bread flour in general. I would like to try the White Lily bread flour one of these days, before we move out of the area to somewhere where I can't get it any more. There are undoubtedly better (or at least cheaper) flours for bread but they're only available commercially and I don't have a source.

Anyway. Basically, for those bleaching processes that have no additional maturing effect (the only commonly used such agent among retail level consumer flours currently being chlorination), there is little or no measurable effect when comparing the same types of flour.
__________________
Kitchen Barbarian is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-23-2012, 12:16 AM   #10
Executive Chef
 
bakechef's Avatar
Site Moderator
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 4,082
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitchen Barbarian View Post
As of a few months ago they assured me they had not, but if they have, it will be listed as an ingredient. Like potassium bromate, it stays in the flour.

.
Here is the page with ingredients.


Pillsbury&reg BEST Bread Flour - Pillsbury Baking
__________________

__________________
I'm Bloggin'

http://bakingbetter.com
bakechef is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
flour

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



» Discuss Cooking on Facebook

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:11 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.