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unbleached vs. bleached flour

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  • semi-sweet Jan 26, 2002 06:34 PM
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If a cookie recipe calls for unbleached all-purpose flour, would it make a noticeable difference if I use bleached? Thanks.

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  1. I use them interchangeably, but I'm not a pro...What are you making? And what's the quantity of flour?? Most of my recipes that call for it just want to sound healthier!!

    9 Replies
    1. re: galleygirl

      I'm making a variation of a chocolate chip cookie. Recipe asks for unbleached pastry flour, and I'm tempted to use my bleached cake flour. Earlier, I made the dough for walnut shortbread-y cookies which asked for unbleached all-purpose, and again I was tempted to use my bleached cake flour, but refrained.

      1. re: semi-sweet

        Ahhh, the question here is substituting cake flour for pastry flour, not the bleached or unbleached issue...The bleached or non-bleached won't make a difference, but the different textures of the pastry flour and the cake flour might..I hate to admit it; but I don't know!! (and my friends call me Miss Know-It-All!!!) I only use all-purpose, sometimes with the addition of different grain flours...Another hound will have to jump in...But if it were ME,and I felt like making cookies; I'd go for it!!!

        "Cake flour, we don't need no steenking CAKE FLOUR!!!!!

        (g)

        1. re: galleygirl
          c
          Can't eat it

          Have any of you heard of an allergy/reaction to bleached flour, what causes it & how serious it is? I'm 35 and for about the last 10 years or so, I've had bad reactions to bleached flour - stomach cramps, gas & diarrhea pretty much exactly 6 hours after eating it. My doctor did extensive tests & has no clue. I avoid eating it so problem mostly solved, but I sure would like to know what is going on (apparently other have this too, as I've found on the web, but no one seems to know much about this).

          1. re: Can't eat it

            I would like to know more about this as well cus for the past 10 years I have been craving bleached self-rising flour and it's like I can go through bags of it just eating it plain. I would like to know about this craving. I asked a doctor and he says his son has the same problem but I have answers

            1. re: Can't eat it

              You sound like my mother in law, a gluten allergy. There is a very long list of symptoms, and all of what you described are on it.

              http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddisea...

          2. re: semi-sweet

            Ah!! Just looked it up in the "Joy of Cooking".Both are soft, but it says that pastry flour is low gluten, and is usually available in the South, and used for quick breads and pastries...Cake flour has less-expansive gluten and bakes to a crumblier texture...They suggest you use 1 cup all-purpose flour, minus 2 Tablespoons, to substitute for 1 cup of cake flour...I hope you have the all-purpose!!

            1. re: semi-sweet

              A batch of chocolate chip cookies? Not an elaborate torte that may take a day to make + bucks? Hey go for it, what do you have to lose in time or money. See what happens.

              But for general information, bleached and unbleached all-purpose flours can generally be substituted for each other. CAKE FLOUR, on the other hand has much less protein and may change really the result. If your cake flour is self-rising, I would not use it in any recipe that did not specifically call for it.

              My default flour is unbleached all-purpose flour and I use a different flour only when the recipe calls for a different flour OR it's a recipe I've used before and I want to tinker with it.

              1. re: saucyknave

                Nope, just cookies--nothin' fancy, but I just started wondering about other flours. I knew that substituting cake for all-purpose flours would make a difference in texture, but I thought I might like the results better. Just thought I'd see if unbleached and bleached were interchangeable.

                Thanks for everyone's input!

            2. re: galleygirl

              I'm making biscuits I've already made a lovely crabmeat sauce to go over them

            3. As a rule of thumb, unbleached flour has more protein than bleached flour. Presumably, unbleached is healthier, but bleached gives you a whiter, "brighter" bread, cake, what-have-you.

              Functionally, you won't notice any difference between them.

              1. the american violinist yehudi menuhin was a health food freak and owned several health food stores. in one of his books he wrote of reading a scientific study on the effect of bleached flour in the diet of lab monkeys: they went insane. so ya, i reckon bleached flour makes a difference.

                1 Reply
                1. re: grouchy chef

                  "When the violinist Yehudi Menuhin comes to New York the first thing he does is call his favorite natural-food store and places an order: porridge, yogurt, goat's milk, sprouted wheat bread, ice cream, butter, fruits, vegetables, tofu sandwiches and kefir. In each American city where he performs, Mr. Menuhin has a favorite place to shop, making his life as a traveling vegetarian more comfortable.
                  ". . . Mr. Menuhin describes himself as ''self-indulgent'' about certain foods. He can eat an entire honeycomb for breakfast. ''I collect honey the way some people collect stamps,'' Mr. Menuhin said. He said he is particularly fond of Indian food because it is ''so stimulating and so delicious, the vegetables with all the spices and the dairy products, the flat bread, rice and the masses of fruit.'' He loves pasta, especially with pesto and white truffles. Mr. Menuhin also enjoys fine wine ."

                  http://www.ivu.org/history/europe20b/...

                   
                2. Great answers here! Unbleached and bleached flour can be used interchangeably in recipes, to achieve similar products. However, their chemical content (and affect upon health) is a different issue. I assume the question does not refer to health issues.

                  I am a pastry chef/baker who also does much home baking. Out of necessity and curiousity, I have made flour substitutions. And I have learned that cake flour (and pastry flour) should never be substituted for all purpose, unless you can mix in bread flour equally to create your own all purpose flour.

                  There are many scientific theories about why, and they always get me mixed up. I just know that, on a practical level, the resulting texture difference will not be the same.

                  1. You can find a lot of flour information at the King Arthur Flour website.

                    Link: http://ww3.kingarthurflour.com/cgibin...

                    1. c
                      Caitlin Wheeler

                      I just bought (and devoured) the cookbook Cookwise by Shirley Corriher who is a biochemist/food writer, and has the answers to all sorts of fascinating questions like this. Unbleached flour generally has higher protein, and will yield less tender cookies. Brand is also a factor. National Brands like Pillsbury and Gold Medal have a lower protein content than Northern Brands like Heckers, I think for both bleached and unbleached. The lowest protein flours are the softest ones, like White Lily.

                      1. Semi-
                        Try this little experiment I saw on America's Test Kitchen. Put a couple of tablespoons of the different flours in separate small bowls. Add an equal amount of water to each and stir. The different flours will absorb the water and create pastes of different consistencies due to their protein content. Cake flour should be a smoother paste than all-purpose flour and so on...I hope this gives you a better idea of what is happening in your cookies or cakes or whatever whenever you use a specific type of flour.

                        1. I realize this is a seven year old post, but I thought there might be a couple of items worth mentioning. Bleached flour is usually bleached with Chlorine and other chemicals. Unbleached flour usually appears white but does not have use Chlorine and other chemicals to aid the bleaching process. Some people, like me, have unexplained heartburn after eating items made with bleached flour. Most processed foods which include flour (e.g. cakes, cookies, breads, etc.) use all-purpose bleached flour. Unbleached flour is typically used for many non-commercial-breads--especially sourdough breads. The chlorine and other chemicals in bleached flour can (but do not always) kill the micro-organisms (i.e. yeast and lactobacillus) in the sourdough. Other than this, you can basically use bleached and unbleached flour interchangeably. I prefer unbleached flour and use it for every thing. In my local grocery store, unbleached flour costs about 30% more than bleached flour. The primary reason for this is because they sell less of the unbleached flour.