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Perhaps you didn’t realise that you could buy a special flour for your bread machine which you can use instead of all-purpose flour? Well, there is and it’s called bread flour. So, what’s the difference between the two? Well, firstly bread flour is made from spring wheat which has more protein than the winter wheat which is used to make all-purpose flour.
Bread maker flour has between 12 – 14% of protein while all-purpose flour has between 8 – 11%. So what is the point of protein? Well, it adds strength to the dough as well as allowing the bread to rise well.
In addition, bread flour has more gluten than all-purpose flour. Gluten makes the bread denser and chewier. It holds the bread together and helps the dough to rise. The more protein there is the more gluten there will be as protein helps with gluten development.
Whole Wheat Flour vs. White Flour
You can use either whole wheat flour or white flour in your bread machine and the same goes if you are making your bread by hand. So which is best?
The wheat plant used to make bread is known as the wheat berry and it has 3 parts; the outer shell, the inner part and then the innermost, the endosperm. To make whole wheat flour, all 3 parts are used. However, with white flour, only the endosperm is used.
Because of this, whole wheat flour contains more fibre than all-purpose flour. ½ cup of white flour contains just 1.3 grams of fibre while ½ cup of whole wheat flour contains 6.4 grams. Fibre is important in our diet as it helps to avoid constipation, lowers blood cholesterol and helps you to lose weight. In addition it helps to prevent some diseases like diabetes, heart disease and bowel cancer.
In addition, whole wheat flour has a glycaemic index of 51 while white flour has a GI of 71. The higher the GI the more likely it is that your blood sugar will spike and then crash, leaving you hungry and tempted to eat more. Low GI foods are absorbed slowly so stop any blood sugar spikes and crashes. This means that you will feel full for longer and less likely to overeat.
Whole wheat flour has more vitamins and minerals than white flour which can only be good for us. It has folate, riboflavin and vitamins B1, B3 and B5. In general, white flour has less of these vitamins because they are destroyed in processing.
For example, vitamin B3 or niacin is a very important nutrient that helps every part of your body. It can stop you from having high cholesterol, ease arthritis pain and help with brain function. ½ cup of whole wheat flour contains 3 milligrams of niacin while white flour has only 0.8 milligrams.
It isn’t difficult to see which bread is better for you, but some white breads are enhanced with vitamins so it’s worth reading the ingredients.
Whole wheat flour is generally more expensive than white flour but personally, I think it’s worth paying that little bit extra for a healthier bread.
Whole wheat bread tends to be darker and heavier than white bread because of the fibre content but it is delicious. It’s also exciting to add all sorts of nuts and seeds to whole wheat bread making it even tastier and healthy.
What’s the Best Flour for a Bread Maker?
I personally think that whole wheat flour is the best choice for a bread maker mainly because of the fibre and nutrients it has. However, the bread may be denser than if you use bread flour. Whatever you use you should look for a high-quality flour.
You might save a little if you buy a low-quality flour, but you won’t get the same results. High-quality flour contains more protein which makes for a better loaf of bread. In addition, low-quality flour probably won’t contain as many nutrients as high-quality flour and there’s a chance that the bread won’t rise evenly.
Bread flour is better than all-purpose flour in your bread machine as it contains more protein than all-purpose flour.
You also have to think of what type of bread you are baking. Bread flour or high-protein all-purpose flour is great if you want a high rising bread. If you would rather have a bread that is dense use whole wheat flour.
Best Flour for Gluten-Free Bread
In this day and age, many people are going on a gluten-free diet for health reasons, but there are also those who have celiac disease and have to keep gluten out of their diet otherwise they could have serious health problems. I have a friend like this and it really takes a lot of thought to prepare a meal for her.
There are flours out there which haven’t got gluten, but some of these can contain chemicals to achieve this effect. You want to avoid these as they have no health benefits. A good place to look for gluten-free flour is in a health shop and also online from internet sites like Amazon.
You need to be aware that gluten-free flour won’t bake in the same way as other flours. Gluten-free flour produces a dough which is denser than other flours, even whole wheat. You won’t get fluffy or light bread, but if you can’t eat gluten you will probably still enjoy your daily dose of bread.
However, not all bread makers are strong enough to handle gluten-free dough because it is heavier. Before you buy your bread machine check that it has a gluten-free setting otherwise you could end up breaking your bread machine.
I think we can surmise that all in all bread flour produces a better loaf of bread in a bread machine than all-purpose flour because of the higher protein and gluten content.In addition, although whole wheat flour produces a denser loaf the addition of fibre is good for our health as are all the extra vitamins and minerals.