If this is your first time to dabble in baking, it will be no surprise that you will find flour as one of the main ingredients in any bread.
The basic bread contains a few ingredients – usually just flour, water, yeast, salt plus oil or butter, seeds, eggs, grains, and nuts. With only a few ingredients, it is vital to use the best quality and store them properly.
An introduction to flour
Two diverse protein types in flour provide bread its construction – glutenin, which produces elasticity and the chewiness factor. In contrast, gliadin provides extensibility, protein’s ability to bounce to attain a better rise.
These proteins require water to unite and develop gluten, which is the supportive framework of bread. The gluten strands secure the carbon dioxide bubbles rising from the fermentation process until baking when the starch gelatinizes and sets in place.
Flours with varying levels of protein are suitable for different types of bread. The unbleached all-purpose flour is ideal for soft varieties of baked products such as white sandwich bread. High-gluten flour provides bread with extra protein, making it ideal for chewy bread, such as bagels or pretzels.
Always remember that various brands of flour vary in their protein content as well. When a recipe requires a specific brand of flour, its protein content will work for the recipe. Alternately, some flour manufacturers note down the protein content of their flours.
This will help you choose the suitable flour for the bread you are preparing. Take note that working with various brands requires some trial and error on your part.
What you need to know about high-gluten flour
High-gluten flour is made from hard wheat and includes a higher amount of gluten than the other types of flour in the market. Once it is worked by hand-kneading or processing in a dough hook in a hand mixer, gluten develops and imparts a chewier consistency to baked products, especially among artisan bread.
It provides the ideal structure to the dough, making it the supportive element. I highly recommend this flour if you want to achieve extra-chewy baked products such as bagels, pizza dough, and pretzels due to its heavy and dense texture.
What do you need to know about all-purpose flour?
When stocking your pantry with baking essentials, you must include all-purpose flour.
This type of flour contains only the seed head’s endosperm, which makes it more shelf-stable than whole wheat flour. Sadly, it also means that it contains less nutritious qualities such as protein and fiber. Take note that you can find all-purpose flour in bleached or unbleached varieties.
18This is the ideal flour if you are preparing cookies and other delicate baked products.
Recipe for homemade bread with high-gluten flour
Now that you know the difference between high-gluten and all-purpose flour, I will now share a simple homemade bread recipe that you can prepare using high-gluten flour.
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 5-6 cups flour (you can use high-gluten flour or all-purpose flour)
- 2 cups warm water
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoon active dry yeast
In a bowl with warm water, liquefy the sugar and add the yeast. Let it rest until yeast has a cream foam-like consistency, ideally for 5 minutes.
Combine the oil and salt into the yeast mixture. Add flour, ideally one cup at a time.
Knead the dough for 7 minutes. Transfer in a well-greased bowl and turn the dough to coat. Cover it with a moist cloth. Let it rise until it doubles in bulk, ideally for an hour.
Punch down the dough. Manipulate for 1 minute and split it in half. Form into loaves and transfer into two 9×5 inch loaf pans that are well-greased. Let them grow for 30 minutes or until the dough has augmented to 1 inch above the pans.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes.
Allow to cool, brush with butter, and serve.
If you are worried about a sunken bread, there is a way to avoid this. I highly recommend using a cooking thermometer to check the interior of the bread. When the bread is fully cooked, it will register a temperature of 200 F on the thermometer.
Can I substitute high-gluten flour with all-purpose flour?
You can substitute high-gluten flour with a different type of flour if it is absolutely necessary since it affects the final product’s overall quality. If there is a need to find a substitute, you can use all-purpose flour. Make sure that you will follow the same amount in the recipe you are following.
High-gluten flour has 12-14% protein content and contains trace amounts of malted barley flour and vitamin C or potassium bromate, which are added externally. As for the purpose of barley flour, it improves the purpose of the yeast while the other additives boost the elasticity of gluten, which allows it to hold carbon dioxide generated by the yeast as the dough grows and bakes.
This type of flour contains more gluten due to the high protein content. It holds more carbon dioxide from the yeast to provide chewy, firm, and fluffy baked products. It is available in white, organic, whole wheat, bleached and unbleached, and often conditioned with ascorbic acid that improves its concentration and better texture.
High-gluten flour and all-purpose flour weigh differently. While substituting, always remember the following:
- High-gluten flour – 1 cup (140 grams)
- All-purpose flour – 1 sifted cup (125 grams)
Generally, flour varies in quality and quantity of the gluten it contains since various wheat strains from different regions and growing seasons have varying gluten profiles.
When using all-purpose flour as a substitute when preparing bread, it produces a typical blend of soft and hard gluten wheat that works best in almost all flour recipes. It has a protein content that ranges from 11%-14%, making it the ideal substitute.
The results will often not be as good as you expected, and you might end up with a dense flatbread. When dealing with this issue, I suggest supplementing all-purpose flour with wheat gluten to 2 teaspoons per flour cup.
In case you are not confident in adding gluten, I suggest trying the autolysis technique to get more out of the gluten already present in the all-purpose flour.
- Combine the flour and water in the recipe you are following, but do not start kneading it.
- Let it rest for 20-25 minutes.
- Add the salt, yeast, and other ingredients.
- Knead thoroughly to make the dough.
The 20-minute rest period is the time that activates the gluten and provides it enough time to start working, thus producing a lighter, firm bread. Take note that you can use this method even with high-gluten bread to achieve a better final product.
Whether you will use high-gluten flour or all-purpose flour, the main objective is to prepare a tasty bread with a good texture.
In most cases, high-gluten flour is readily available in grocery stores. If a recipe requires high-gluten bread as the main ingredient, it should not be substituted or replaced with other flour types. Nevertheless, in scenarios when you do not have a choice but to use a substitute, all-purpose flour can help you achieve a similar product if the right proportion is used.