Choc babka: AP flour for bread flour?
I want to try this recipe for chocolate babka:
It calls for about half all purpose flour and half bread flour. I don't have any bread flour on hand - can anyone tell me if it would be fine to use all AP flour?
I checked out other chocolate babka recipes and they call for only AP flour, but I liked this one because it seemed a little lighter on the chocolate.
Yes, you might add another tablespoon or two as you're kneading if it feels too tacky, or knead more but it'll be fine.
"Bread flour" is actually a marketing term applied to flour with a higher protein content. Some bread bakers believe it makes a better loaf of bread. I'm not entirely convinced. I often use AP flour for bread when I want a lighter, less chewy loaf. Bread bakers like to use higher protein flour to produce a tighter structure that helps maintain better shaped loaf.
Short answer; there is only approx. 2% difference between most AP flour blends and "bread" flour. I've got to seriously questions a bread formula that specifies "5 17/20 ounces bread flour (about 1 1/4 cups)". C'mon ... 17/20? As chowser pointed out, if the dough feels a bit too sticky, add a tablespoon of additional AP flour at a time and continue to knead until the dough feels as it should.
In the last pastry class I took, the instructor told us you could knead more to develop the gluten, rather than starting off w/ the higher protein flour. If I'm making a chewy "artisana: type bread, I use bread flour. If I want a white sandwich bread, I'll go w/ AP. I have never compared side by side the results, though. Overall, I think "feel" is a better judge than precise measurements or exact protein percentage.
I tend to agree with you, chowser. I find myself wanting to recommend developing a "feel" for the dough but I've learned that when I suggest that I tend to frustrate some people who are new to baking. That sometimes causes them to abandon their attempts to grow in the art.
I really like this instructional web page:
for helping those who are new to baking understand how to select the best type of flour for their project and that using another type of flour doesn't necessarily spell disaster.
That's a good site--I've been surprised at what I've been able to find on the exploratorium site. I agree about going by "feel"--once you do it a few times, you can get it but until you see it, it's hard to understand. That's one reason I like to take classes. I can learn from books, online, from CHs but nothing beats seeing it up close and being able to touch it.