Finding a suitable substitute for bread flour may seem challenging, but it can be done. Bread flour contains more protein than all-purpose flour, which is vital for the development of gluten. These proteins help create a strong, elastic dough that results in a well-structured and chewy bread. However, there are a variety of alternative ingredients that can be used effectively for your baking needs.
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One popular choice is to mix all-purpose flour with vital wheat gluten, easily found in most grocery stores. By adding the vital wheat gluten, the protein content of the all-purpose flour increases and behaves more like bread flour. Another option is to use whole wheat flour, though it may result in a denser bread due to its higher protein and fiber content.
For those seeking a gluten-free option, a combination of gluten-free flours such as rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour can be used along with xanthan gum or guar gum to mimic the elasticity and structure of bread flour. These alternatives may require some experimentation to get the desired texture, but they can produce satisfying results for those who are unable or prefer not to use traditional bread flour.
Understanding Bread Flour
Protein Content and Gluten
Bread flour is a type of flour that has a higher protein content compared to all-purpose flour. Protein content typically ranges from 12 to 14%, which contributes to the formation of more gluten in the dough. Gluten plays a critical role in providing elasticity and structure to the dough, resulting in a chewy and tender bread texture.
The table below shows the protein content comparison between bread flour and other common types of flour:
|Flour Type||Protein Content (%)|
In bread baking, the higher protein content in bread flour creates a strong gluten network. This network allows the dough to trap gases produced by yeast or other leavening agents, leading to an airy and well-risen loaf.
Ideal Baking Applications
Bread flour is ideally suited for various types of bread, including:
- Yeasted breads (e.g., baguettes, sandwich bread, and dinner rolls)
- Pizza dough and focaccia
While bread flour excels in creating the desired texture for bread and other yeast-based baked goods, it may not be the optimal choice for other baking applications. For example, using bread flour in recipes that require tenderness, such as cakes and cookies, may result in a denser and tougher product due to the higher gluten formation. In these situations, opting for a lower-protein flour, like cake or pastry flour, would be more appropriate.
In summary, bread flour’s higher protein content leads to more gluten formation, making it well-suited for yeasted bread and other specific baking applications. However, its properties may not be ideal for all types of baked goods, and substitutions might be necessary depending on the desired result.
Substitute Options for Bread Flour
All-purpose flour is a versatile option that can be used as a substitute for bread flour in most recipes. Typically containing between 10% and 12% protein, it falls between bread flour and cake flour in terms of protein content. When substituting all-purpose flour, use the same amount as the bread flour called for in the recipe. The resulting bread may have a slightly softer texture and less chew than when made with bread flour, but it should still be a satisfactory product.
Cake Flour and Pastry Flour
Cake flour and pastry flour are other alternatives that can be used in place of bread flour. They have lower protein content than bread flour, with cake flour containing between 7% and 9% protein, and pastry flour containing about 9% protein. To use these flours as a substitute, blend them with all-purpose flour to increase the protein level. For example, a combination of ⅔ cake flour and ⅓ all-purpose flour can result in an adequate protein mix for bread making. These substitutions will yield a slightly different texture and flavor compared to bread flour, yet can still produce satisfactory bread.
Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour, also known as wholemeal flour, can be used as a substitute for bread flour. This flour contains higher levels of fiber and nutrients due to the presence of the bran and germ that are milled into it. Because of the higher fiber content, whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid, so adjustments to the recipe may be necessary. The bread made with whole wheat flour will have a denser texture and a more robust flavor compared to bread made with bread flour.
Self-rising flour is a blend of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt, making it a convenient option for recipes that call for bread flour. When substituting with self-rising flour, omit any additional baking powder and salt from the recipe. Keep in mind that self-rising flour has a lower protein content, so the final product may have a softer texture than bread made with bread flour. This substitution is best for recipes that do not require a high level of gluten to create structure, such as quick breads or muffins.
For those who have gluten sensitivities or allergies, gluten-free flours can be used as a replacement for bread flour. There’s a variety of gluten-free flours available, such as rice flour, sorghum flour, almond flour, and a premade gluten-free all-purpose blend. Adjusting the liquids, binders, or leavening agents in the recipe may be necessary when using gluten-free flours. The final product will likely have a different texture and flavor, as it will lack gluten, the protein that provides structure and elasticity in traditional bread.
Recipes and Substitutions
When substituting bread flour, it’s essential to maintain the texture and structure of the bread. Whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour are common alternatives. Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting whole wheat flour, but be aware that it will produce a denser bread. All-purpose flour can be used as a 1:1 substitute as well, but adding extra gluten such as wheat gluten (1 tablespoon per cup of flour) will improve the structure.
For soft and tender breads, try using cake flour, which has less protein than bread flour. Replace bread flour with cake flour at a ratio of 1.5 cups cake flour to 1 cup bread flour.
Pizza Dough and Crusts
Creating a perfect pizza dough or crust requires elasticity in the dough, usually provided by the high protein content of bread flour. Fortunately, these substitutions can still yield great results:
- All-purpose flour (1:1 ratio)
- A combination of all-purpose flour (80%) and whole wheat flour (20%)
Consider adding vital wheat gluten (1 tablespoon per cup of all-purpose flour) to improve the dough’s elasticity.
|Flour Type||Ratio to Bread Flour|
|80% AP + 20% WW||1:1|
For cookies, the flour substitution will depend on the desired texture. To achieve a chewier cookie, use a combination of all-purpose and cake flour (1:1 ratio). If a crispier cookie is preferred, use only all-purpose flour as a 1:1 substitute.
Cakes often require a more delicate crumb structure than bread. Therefore, cake flour or all-purpose flour can be used as substitutes. Here are the ratios:
- Cake flour (1 cup bread flour = 1.5 cups cake flour)
- All-purpose flour (1:1)
It’s essential to note that heavier, denser cakes might require the addition of a little extra liquid to compensate for the lower protein content in the cake or all-purpose flour.
To achieve tender biscuits, substitute bread flour with a blend of all-purpose flour and cake flour (1:1 ratio). Another option is using only all-purpose flour (1:1 ratio), but the texture may be slightly different. However, this should not drastically affect the final product’s taste and quality.
Bread Flour Substitute: Can You Use All Purpose Flour?
- Gluten Supplementation
- Try our kitchen tested bread flour substitutes.
Use in or with your favorite recipe.