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What Is Bread Flour?

As with other types of baking, baking bread requires precision and specific ingredients, and one of the most integral components to baking bread is bread flour. In this piece we'll discuss what bread flour is, what it's used for, the difference between bread flour and all purpose flour, and some substitutes you can use in a pinch.

What Is Bread Flour and What Is it Used For?

sprinkling bread flour on bread dough

Bread flour is a high-protein flour that typically contains between 12 and 14% protein and is designed for baking yeasted breads. The high protein content means that bread flour has more gluten in it, which makes the dough more elastic and light and results in a chewy and airy texture when baked.

Bread flour is also set apart from other types of flour because it requires significant kneading to create a good gluten structure, which results in the airy and chewy texture.

Bread Flour Uses

As the name suggests, bread flour is typically used to make breads. But, you can use this type of flour in several other types of recipes. Here are a few uses for bread flour:

  • Sourdough Bread
  • White Bread
  • Pretzels
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Cinnamon Buns
  • Bagels

What Is Strong Flour?

Strong flour, or strong bread flour, is just another name for bread flour that is commonly used in the United Kingdom. There is no difference between bread flour and strong bread flour, strong flour, or hard flour.

Bread flour is sometimes called strong flour because the flour is made from hard wheat varieties, unlike other types of flour.

Difference Between Bread and All Purpose Flour

The difference between bread flour and all purpose flour is in their protein content and uses. Bread flour usually contains between 12 and 14% protein compared to an average of 8 to 11% in all purpose varieties. With a lower protein content, all purpose flour isn't able to create enough gluten to give the dough the light and elastic texture that you need to create good bread dough.

Additionally, all purpose flour is versatile and can be used in a variety of different baking recipes, whereas bread flour is only used for baking bread.

Substitutes for Bread Flour

It can be difficult to find a good substitute for bread flour, because most other types of flour do not have enough protein to adequately create the gluten chains and elastic texture that are necessary for baking bread.

But, in a pinch, you can use all purpose flour to make bread with some additional vital wheat gluten. Adding vital wheat gluten to the all purpose flour provides the additional protein needed to create the ideal texture for your bread dough.

kneading bread dough

You should not use other types of flour, like cake, instant, or pastry flour when making bread, though. If you don't use the correct type of flour when baking bread, your dough will not rise properly, and you will end up with a close-textured and dense bread.


Whether you're looking to bake fresh white bread or you want to start making sourdough, high protein bread flour is the best option for your recipes. If you choose to use a bread flour substitute in your bread recipe, though, be sure to add vital wheat gluten or another protein to ensure that you get the correct texture and consistency.

Posted in: Kitchen & Cooking Tips | Bakeries | By Richard Traylor
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