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The Bread Bible--why does she tell you to use bleached all-purpose flour?

This Sunday, I decided to make "Quintessential Corn Muffins" from Rose Levy Bernbaum's "The Bread Bible," only the second time I've used this cookbook. She called for bleached all-purpose flour, specifying only Pillsbury or Gold Ribbon (?). I almost always buy unbleached, since that's what every other cookbook writer seems to call for, and I couldn't find an explanation in her cookbook. Anyway, I didn't have bleached, or either of the recommended brands, and the corn muffins turned out great. Is she just being overly didactic, or is there a reason to use bleached over unbleached? This cookbook was a gift, and I'm starting to find her tone annoying.

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  1. Something happens to the flour when it becomes 'bleached', IIRC it takes away some of the protien. Of course you could use unbleached AP flour, but there will be a difference, a little more tooth. Especially if you use King Artuhur.

    I just kinda resigned to the fact that I'll have several flours on hand for picky people (Like CI) recipes....


    1. I'll keep a few flours on hand but regular old AP will do the trick for just about anything. Hence the name.


      1. RLB usually cites the reasons for her choices in this regard. It may be explained elsewhere in the book, but I am sure there is an explanation about why bleached APF of a reliable protein level (King Arthuer is too high, White Lily is too low) is specified for certain uses. If you want to assess the merit of her recipe, you should at least once do it she directs (this rule being true for any recipe, of course).

          1. Nancy Berry eloquently channels RLB on this earlier thread discussing flour:

            1. Ok, I read all that and still don't understand why King Arthur flour makes my ordinarily light focaccia very heavy. If King Arthur has the highest protein (gluten), then it should be the best for breads, but when I use it in this recipe, which contains quite a bit of olive oil, the sponge comes out hard and tough and doesn't rise well. For some reason, regular AP flour works the best. I've stopped buying King Arthur because of this and another experience like it. Anyone else have a problem with King Arthur producing tough bread?

              1. If you visit her blog (www.realbakingwithrose.com) you can post questions that she will answer. I don't think she answers all of them, but many of them she does. Anyway, I'm certain she'd be happy to tell you. There may even be a link to email her.

                1. bleached has less gluten than unbleached, resulting in a slightly better crumb. Similarly, bleached AP flour is usually called for in pastries for the same reason. (or even mixed with cake flour to make pastry flour, with yet an even lower gluten level)

                  She specifies her favorite brands, but, frankly, I find them to be interchangeable. Not that each brand doesn't have different levels of gluten, but the differences just aren't that big of a deal to me. but, I'm not a perfectionist when it comes to things like cornbread.

                  1. I had a problem similar to Moka when using King Arthur flour for pizza and focaccia doughs.

                    I actually discovered the answer to my problem in The Bread Bible, where RLB recommends a softer unbleached all-purpose flour like Gold Medal or Pillsbury for her pizza doughs.

                    Even more ideal, when I remember to order it, is King Arthur's "Italian-style Flour", which approximated the "00" flour prized in Italy for pizza and pasta making.

                    Sometimes I too have questioned the flour suggestions in RLB's books, but experience has taught me that there is always a reason for the preference, even if a substitution would work.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: btnfood

                      Great tip, btnfood! I didn't know about King Arthur's Italian-style flour before, but now I'll try to get some. Who knew that focaccia/pizza doughs needed a softer flour than most breads? Maybe it's the higher amount of liquid in those doughs. I rarely bake bread anymore, but my family is so nuts about that garlic/rosemary focaccia, I need it turn out just right every time. Thanks!