Bread flour is a high-gluten flour which gives breads their signature chewy texture. Gluten is formed from protein in wheat flour. This gluten helps the bread to maintain its structure after it rises. If you do not have bread flour, you can substitute another type of flour for it with some slight adjustments.
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White Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour without the dark colouring is used to make lighter loaves of bread. This flour has similar nutrition statistics to whole wheat flour, but breads made with white whole wheat flour are lighter in texture and slightly sweeter than whole wheat breads. Look for it in the baking aisle with other flours. This is a higher protein flour than whole wheat, making its gluten production capability similar to bread flour. Substitute an equal amount of this speciality flour for bread flour in your recipes.
All Purpose Flour
All purpose flour stands in for bread flour in recipes not dependent on yeast for rising. If you do use all purpose flour in yeast breads without adding vital wheat gluten, your baked goods will have a softer, less chewy texture. This substitute works best in recipes such as cookies or pastries which call for bread flour.
Vital Wheat Gluten
To increase the protein content in any flour used to replace bread flour, supplement the flour with vital wheat gluten. This is a highly potent additive available in supermarkets with other flours. Add 1 tsp of vital wheat gluten per cup of any flour used to replace bread flour. This will overcome the texture problems of using lower protein flours such as all purpose flour. The bread will be chewier if you add vital wheat gluten to your flour than if you did not.
Gluten-Free Flour Mixtures
To replace bread flour with a gluten-free substitute, you must mix several types of grain flours with thickeners. These thickeners -- guar gum, pre-gel starch and xanthan gum -- are available at health food stores. Look for gluten-free wheat flour substitutes at health food stores or make your own. Combine 2/3 cup of white rice flour with 2/9 cup of potato starch and 1/9 cup of tapioca starch with 1 tsp of a thickener. Alternatively, mix 1/2 cup of brown rice flour with 1/4 cup tapioca flour and 1/4 cup of soy flour. Stir in 1 tsp of one of the three thickers -- xanthan gum, guar gum or pre-gel starch. This will replace 1 cup of bread flour in your recipe. Ideally, use this in recipes which do not rely on yeast. Cookies and pastries turn out better than yeast breads if using a gluten-free substitute for bread flour.
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