Bread flour is a high protein flour milled entirely from hard wheat, usually hard red spring wheat. The protein content ranges from 12.7-14% depending on the brand of flour and whether it’s intended for home or industrial use.
The flour may be white or whole wheat; It may be bleached or never bleached, it may be enriched or not.
Whereas it’s generally assumed that bread flour always has higher protein content than all-purpose flour, this is not always the case.
In some countries like Canada some brands of all purpose flour have a protein content of 13.3% and can be used for baking bread, pastry. cake or pizza. The flour is a blend of soft and hard wheat.
The difference between Bread Flour, All-purpose and Cake flour
The main difference between all purpose and bread flour is the type of wheat used. All purpose is a blend of hard and soft wheat and bread flour is milled entirely from hard wheat. Hard wheat has a higher protein content than soft wheat, so bread flour will have a higher protein content.
Cake or pastry flour is finely milled from soft wheat. Cake flour has a protein content of 8-10% and is always bleached. Bleaching results in soft textured and fluffy cakes.
Common ingredients in bread flour
White Wheat flour: amylase, xylanase, ascorbic acid, L-cysteine (L-cysteine hydrochloride), niacin (B3), iron, thiamine mononitrate (B1), riboflavin (B2), folic acid (B9).
Whole wheat flour: ascorbic acid, amylase (malted barley flour), xylanase, l-cysteine,
Looking at the different brands of Bread Flour in North America
King Arthur: Bread flour 12.7% protein; All-purpose, 11.7% protein content.
Robin Hood: Bread flour 13.3% protein; All-purpose 13.3% protein content
Five Roses: Only sells all-purpose flour with 13.3% protein content
White Lily: Bread flour: 13.3% protein; All-purpose: 6.6% protein content
Pillsbury: Bread flour: 13.3% protein; All-purpose: 10% protein content
Gold Medal: Bread flour: 13.3% protein; All-purpose: 10% protein content
An overview of the two important wheat species
The two most important wheat species are the common or bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L) and Durum or pasta wheat (Tritium durum Desf.)
Durum wheat is the hardest of all wheat grains. It’s processed into semolina, a coarse flour used to make Pasta and Couscous.
Bread or common wheat can be hard or soft and red or white in colour. It can be grown over spring (spring wheat) or over winter (winter wheat). Hard wheat has a higher protein content than soft wheat.
Soft wheat is mainly used for cake or pastry flour and hard wheat is used for bread flour. All purpose flour is a blend of hard and soft wheats.