baking bread with all-purpose flour

  • I'm a bread-baking novice and have acquired a vast quantity of all-purpose flour.

    If I follow a typical bread recipe, for example one of these, but use all-purpose flour instead of the recommended variety, what will happen? Will the bread be edible?

    [How] could I modify such a recipe to work with all-purpose flour?


    Used Canadian all-purpose flour with this recipe, unmodified; results were delicious.

    Note that country and region both matter here. Canadian AP flour is generally higher gluten content than American AP flour. And in the US, they vary north-to-south as well. Just something else to take into account.

  • Aaronut

    Aaronut Correct answer

    10 years ago

    Bread is basically just flour, water, and yeast, so it's pretty hard to make it inedible unless you burn it to a crisp in the oven.

    The difference between all-purpose flour and bread flour is gluten strength; if you substitute all-purpose flour then your bread won't rise as high or be as strong; this is a desirable quality in, say, cake, but not bread.

    However, AP flour isn't that far off from bread flour in terms of gluten; while cake flour may be as low as 6% and bread flour can be as high as 14%, AP flour tends to weigh in at around 10% or more, which is why it's called "all-purpose". As Michael says, yeast bread is actually not as sensitive to the exact quantities as (for example) most pastries, but it's still better to use a recipe that was actually built around AP flour instead of just trying to substitute it for bread flour.

    If you are determined to make the substitution, then I would suggest you try to find some wheat gluten and add a small amount of that to the AP flour. Mathematically, if you assume that you're lacking some 3% protein, then you'd want to add about 1 tbsp of gluten for every 2 cups of flour. It's really not much, though, and if you don't have or can't find wheat gluten then your bread would probably survive anyway with AP flour, it just might be a little denser than you expect.

    Any other alternatives to adding gluten? What about more yeast/less salt/more sugary stuff?

    @intuited: No, that won't help. Reducing salt will just take away the flavour. Adding more sugar will cause *less* gluten to form, making the bread more cake-like. And adding more yeast won't help much because its main role is to produce carbon dioxide which gets trapped by the gluten; you can't really compensate for a lower gluten level by adding more gas. As I said, you can try to use the AP flour straight up, and probably end up with a slightly denser/flatter bread; otherwise you either need to add actual gluten or use a recipe created for AP flour in the first place.

    There's probably some other protein besides gluten that would fulfill the same purpose. However, I've never seen it named.

    " it's pretty hard to make it inedible unless you burn it to a crisp in the oven." - For my first loaf I followed directions that didn't say anything about a second rise. This was with a rather slow SD I captured myself. The result had a crust that was .25+ inch thick, hard as weathered concrete, and tasted like a gym sock. My dog burried it under a tree when I gave it to him...he couldn't chew it. Slamming it against the concrete patio resulted in a few crumbs falling off. So it's actually pretty easy--just stick your bread in before the second rise :p

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM