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Be it the crunch of a perfect crouton or the doughy softness of a fluffy loaf that you love, bread makers are a perfect kitchen companion. But what’s the best flour for a bread maker?
Below, we take a look at the wonderfully curious world of flour and investigate the question of, what flour is best to use in bread makers?
At a first glance, it may not seem like an important decision to make.
But, as many experienced bakers will tell you, different flours achieve different breads.
So let’s start with…
Bread Flour vs All Purpose Flour
Bread flour, sometimes called bread machine flour, is what most bread maker recipe books will say to use in order to achieve the best results.
But what exactly is bread flour? If you have no experience in baking, then the term itself may be completely alien to you.
To put it simply, bread flour is flour that has more protein than all-purpose flour.
This means that bread flour, by having more protein in it (and therefore more gluten), will rise better during the cooking process, and also hold its shape better.
Best Bread Flour for Bread Makers
There are certain brands of all-purpose flour that do have higher protein counts. If you find one, they are a fine substitute for bread flour if rise and shape are your main concerns.
It also depends on what kind of bread you are baking. Bread flour or high protein all-purpose flour is great for making high rising bread. But, if you want denser breads, then whole-wheat flours are your best choice.
Another question you may ask is: just what is bread machine flour?
And the answer is that there is no specific flour for bread machines. While there are bread flours, there is no flour made specifically for bread machines.
Whole Wheat Flour vs White Flour
Whole wheat is a term that gets thrown around a lot in the age of healthy bread baking, but many people don’t actually know what whole wheat means.
See, the part of the wheat plant used to make flour, the wheat berry, is actually made up of three parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.
Basically, a wheat berry is like a nesting doll. The bran is the outer shell, the germ the inner part, and the endosperm the innermost part.
Now, unbleached white flour is made from only the endosperm, while whole wheat flour, as the name suggests, is made from milling the entire wheat berry. This is why whole wheat is darker, and breads made from it taste different and have heavier densities than those made with white flour.
Additionally, whole wheat flour contains more fiber, minerals, carbohydrates, and B vitamins than white flours.
Best Whole Wheat Flour for Bread Machine
This brings us to…
What’s the Best Flour for a Bread Maker?
The type of flour you use isn’t as important as the quality of that flour.
Quality absolutely matters. High quality, or at least better quality, flour makes a large and noticeable difference when baking bread. High quality flours tend to have more protein, which makes for a better loaf. Low quality flours may result in bread that tastes different, doesn’t rise as evenly or well, and may lack nutrients.
Deciding on the best bread machine flour depends on what kind of bread you’re trying to make as well. There are brands that cater to a wide variety of tastes and needs. Take some time and look around your local supermarket, or put Google to good use.
You should also keep a sharp eye out for flours that haven’t been bleached or ‘whitened’ (which is really just another way of saying that it’s been bleached), as there really is no reason why your bread needs to be white as snow.
Best Flour for Gluten Free Bread
It’s very tricky to pinpoint the best flours for baking gluten free bread.
There are certainly flours out there without gluten, but you want to be sure that they haven’t treated it with chemicals to achieve that. Read the labels, and perhaps even research the brand.
There are plenty of health food shops out there too, and they often have a selection of brands and flours that cater to gluten free diets.
There are also two important things to consider when baking gluten-free bread:
- They will not bake the same as doughs made with regular flour. Gluten free doughs are naturally denser, meaning that when baked they will not be as fluffy or light in texture.
- Not all bread machines can handle gluten free dough. Because gluten free dough is so much thicker, it requires stronger mixing paddles (if your machine also mixes the dough), and different cooking times. Keep an eye out for bread makers that have a gluten free setting, and you’ll be golden.
Best Gluten Free Bread Flour
The best flour for bread machines in most cases is bread flour. Google around with phrase like ‘best bread machine flour’ and you will definitely get a plethora of answers, and don’t be shy of poking around in the comments or reviews sections from people that have used the products themselves.
Now go and bake your heart out!
What do you think — what’s the best bread machine flour?