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Old 12-12-2004, 08:05 PM   #1
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All Purpose Flour - Bleached or Unbleached

Hi guys, what's the difference between these two types of flour? And can you use them interchangeably? Does it make a HUGE difference if a recipe calls for bleached and I use unbleached? Thx!! :D

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Old 12-12-2004, 10:58 PM   #2
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I'd bet you won't have a problem if you use unbleached in place of bleached.
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Old 12-13-2004, 01:38 AM   #3
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Bleaching strengthens the gluten, so if you're making bread it might rise slightly differently, but generally, I say the two are fairly interchangeable.

Unbleached flour tastes a lot better, as bleached flour has a strong chemical taste/smell.
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Old 12-13-2004, 09:21 AM   #4
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My mother used unbleached.
I use unbleached.
I use Hecker's
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Old 12-13-2004, 09:36 AM   #5
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I always use King Arthur Unbleached for anything that calls for AP flour. I want to add as few chemicals to my family's foods as possible (there are enough in there we can't control already!).

Here's a definition of bleached flour:
Bleached flour has been treated with bleaching chemicals to make it look whiter than it really is. In the US, the two most common chemical agents for bleaching flour are benzoyl peroxide and chlorine dioxide. Benzoyl perozide -- yes, the active ingredient in many acne creams -- is added directly to the flour in powdered form. Chlorine dioxide, basically laundry bleach in the form of a gas, is blown into the flour at the end of the milling process. During baking, benzoyl peroxide undergoes a chemical change, leaving trace amounts of benzoic acid in whatever is being baked.
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Old 12-13-2004, 11:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PA Baker
Here's a definition of bleached flour:
Bleached flour has been treated with bleaching chemicals to make it look whiter than it really is. In the US, the two most common chemical agents for bleaching flour are benzoyl peroxide and chlorine dioxide. Benzoyl perozide -- yes, the active ingredient in many acne creams -- is added directly to the flour in powdered form. Chlorine dioxide, basically laundry bleach in the form of a gas, is blown into the flour at the end of the milling process. During baking, benzoyl peroxide undergoes a chemical change, leaving trace amounts of benzoic acid in whatever is being baked.
So, Baker, is this what "bromated" means?


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Old 12-13-2004, 11:49 AM   #7
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Actually, no. Here's what bromated means (I'm learning something new, too!):

Bromated flour means the flour has been treated with potassium bromate. Potassium bromate has long been used to "enhance" the baking performance of low protein flour. Specifically, bromate is most often used to give artificial "oven spring" to yeast breads. It does this by altering the chemical make-up of the flour in a way that produces stronger gluten bonds. If flour contains enough protein, a baker can create sufficient gluten naturally, making bromate unnecessary. Potassium bromate has been banned in Europe, Canada, and Japan as a suspected carcinogen, and food products sold in California containing bromate must bear a warning label.
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Old 12-13-2004, 12:49 PM   #8
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Specifically, bromate is most often used to give artificial "oven spring" to yeast breads. It does this by altering the chemical make-up of the flour in a way that produces stronger gluten bonds. If flour contains enough protein, a baker can create sufficient gluten naturally, making bromate unnecessary. Potassium bromate has been banned in Europe, Canada, and Japan as a suspected carcinogen, and food products sold in California containing bromate must bear a warning label.
Thank you so much, Baker, this is very helpful . . . and interesting too, isn't it?

So if I understand you, the King Arthur unbromated AP flour is the desirable way to go, and one can achieve the same effect as bromation by adding a bit of gluten, yes? (Since AP flour has less gluten than flour designed specifically for bread making.) And if the poster upthread is to be believed, unbleached, unbromated flour is the best alternative of all, in terms not only of health, but of flavor.

Of course, because bromated flour is banned in some places doesn't itself prove that bromation is carcinogous ... and one has to wonder how such a thing is determined. Unless you (or the lab rats) sit and eat nothing but bowlfuls of flour as their daily diet, it would be tough to separate the effects of the bromation from the effects of dunnamany other things most people include in their diet. Unless the scientists have figured out a way to separate the bromate from the flour and feed it to the lab animals ...


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Old 12-13-2004, 01:23 PM   #9
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cats, somewhere at home I have a chart listing the gluten content of various brands of flour. I'll try to post it here later tonight.

I use unbleached, unbromated flour for everything unless 1--the recipe calls for bread flour or 2--the recipe calls for (or I choose to use) wheat flour. All of the King Arthur flours are unbleached. For other brands, be sure to read the packaging.
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Old 12-13-2004, 02:13 PM   #10
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Wow, all this info was really helpful! Thanks. I have been using more whole wheat flour in my quick breads and cookies latrly. Bob's Red Mill brand of pastry flour. I like it. I've heard a lot about King A. I'm going to have to try that next.

Thx again! :)
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Old 12-13-2004, 09:23 PM   #11
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I remembered! Sorry I didn't get a chance to post this sooner, but I did want to get back with the info I promised Cats, HTC and others about gluten content, etc. in flours. My resource for this is Baking Illustrated. Again, it's a cumbersome book, but it's useful! :D

First, some basic definitions and info:

AP flour usually has a high protein content, usually, on average, between 10 and 12 percent. Cooks Illustrated tested 9 different kinds of AP flour and found that they acted according to the basic principles of protein content. The ones with a higher content yielded heavier, denser biscuits in their tests than the lower-content, and the lower-protein flours spread more in tests of cookies and muffins. Flavors were fine. However, in a taste test, the four bleached flours did not perform as well as the unbleached and were criticized for tasting "flat, off, or metallic." This wasn't as detectable in recipes that contained a large percentage of ingredients other than flour. Overall, King Arthur and Pillsbury ranked the highest.

Bread flour is a flour with a protein content above 12%. On the opposite end, cake flour is very low in protein, about 6-8%. This ensures a a delicate, fine-crumb in the product. Whole-wheat flour uses the whole wheat berry--outer bran layer, germ, and the endosperm. White is usually just the endosperm. The germ is perishable so wheat flour doesn't store as well. Cooks Illustrated says that if you don't plan to use an entire package of wheat flour within a month, it should be stored in the freezer.

Here is the ranking I promised you of unbleached AP flours by protein content. Some recipes call for a specific level of protein (higher vs lower)--this can help you choose your flour accordingly. Like I said before, I usually always use King Arthur.

Protein Content of Unbleached AP Flours
King Arthur 11.7%
Heckers/Ceresota 11.5--11.9%
Hodgson Mill 11%
Gold Metal 10.5%
Pillsbury 10.5%

Next time I need to stock up on flour, I might try Pillsbury just to compare results vs King Arthur.
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Old 12-14-2004, 12:58 AM   #12
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Wow, that info was really interesting PA Baker! Thanks for posting this!

I always use whole wheat flour and have never heard that I should freeze it! I will definitely keep this in mind for the future.

It seems like there is SO much technical information to baking. I'm a novice home baker and so this forum has been a wonderful educational tool.

Thanks again all! :D
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Old 12-14-2004, 01:24 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by htc
Wow, that info was really interesting PA Baker! Thanks for posting this!
Me, too. Many thanks, PABaker. (I posted a thank-you awhile ago, but it has vanished into the cybersphere.)


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Old 12-14-2004, 02:06 AM   #14
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I may be a minority in this opinion, but I don't like the taste of King Arthurs flour. At least, not their bread flour. I haven't tried their all purpose.

I also might be in the minority in this area as well, but I'm not a big fan of all purpose flour. All purpose flour is a compromise that, in the long run, yields compromised results. I reach for the right tool for the job. Pies, cookies, cakes, dumplings, biscuits, gravy - unbleached pastry flour gives you the best results. Bread - bread flour. Pasta - semolina flour. I obtain both by bread and my pastry flour from a local bakery. Commercial flour is about a thousand times better than supermarket fare. I get my yeast from bakeries as well. Again, far superior.

My best tip for comparing different brands of flours is to smell them side by side. Also, take a tiny pinch of each and taste them. Their inadequecies are usually quite evident when compared in this fashion.
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Old 12-14-2004, 11:26 AM   #15
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Scott, you mean just taste the flour right out of the bag? Man, I never thought of doing this! And yet it seems so simple.

I figured the only way I could compare flours is to bake a batch of something using the exact same recipe but with a different flour.

I like the idea of buying the flour from a local bakery. We have one that sells flour (come to think of it), and yet I always forget that this is an option.
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Old 12-14-2004, 07:30 PM   #16
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Htc, your sense of smell will tell you more, but a very very small taste is a good second line of defense. Raw flour isn't the most pleasant taste in the world, but if it's of good quality, it won't be that gross in a small amount. It takes a little practise. It really helps to have a good flour next to a bad one. The wide disparity helps to train your palate as to what good flour should taste like.
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Old 01-14-2009, 05:44 PM   #17
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You guys know your flour! But I have a question. I have a prospective customer that is mixing 3 flours for his pizza dough. Sir Lancelot, Bouncer and Winona, unfortunately I don't know the exact ratios but the King Arthur makes up the bulk of it. Does anybody know what other flours or flour types could be subbed for the Winona and Bouncer as we don't stock them. Could an AP and maybe Pillsbury 4X or something like that work. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Oh yeah his crust is not exactly thin but it does have a bit of crisp to it and he bakes it on a screen, thanx
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Old 01-14-2009, 05:51 PM   #18
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I use Honeyvillegrain flours , unbleached AP and bread flours Wholesale Ingredients to the Food Service Industry, Honeyville Food Products. Premium Corn, Flour, Whole Grains, Sugar and more.
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Old 01-14-2009, 05:53 PM   #19
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We've recently switched at work to Bouncer and found no difference between that and the others we use. (this is for bagels)
We do not use unbleached, the bagels look sickly that way.
Here's the rub, I can't remember at this moment what the other was we switched from.
HTH. probably not.
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