Bread flour v. AP flour
I made stollen for a relative for the holiday and needed to be bread flour for the recipe. Now I have about 4 1/2 pounds of bread flour. Can I use it interchangeably with AP flour?
For some things....bread flour has a higher gluten content than AP which means it gives more elasticity and shape to whatever you're making so I wouldn't use it to make a gravy or sauce like a roux nor would I use it to make a cake or pie crust but you can use it in some other sweet baked goods like muffins or quick breads and things like pizza crust and dinner rolls where you want a chewy texture. I've also used it as a breading for meat before frying....Keeps in the freezer forever
In most cases you can use bread flour in place of AP flour, but as you know you can not just use AP where bread is called for. Bread flour has more gluten and you can not just eliminate that. The two would work equally well in non-baking situations like making roux, or in breading of meats most definatly.
My general rule is that if the recipe calls for yeast, use bread flour, but if it calls for baking powder, use AP flour. However, you can certainly break this "rule." Your finished product will be more dense, but it will taste the same. The only recipes where I would not use bread flour at all are things like sponge cake, angel food cake, chiffon cake, or anything where an airy texture is desirable. I would also avoid it in a genoise, or you will end up with a brick.
personally, i'd be really careful in what recipe you choose to substitute bread flour. i use it in cookies, a lot.
if you're working from a recipe, i'd consider cutting the bread flour with a little cornstarch. much the way you cut AP flour with cornstarch to approximate cake flour in a pinch. sift it, use 7/8 cup bread flour, and 1/8 cup cornstarch. but that's just me.
or freeze it.
Alton Brown's The Chewy calls for bread flour. I've made the recipe with both bread and ap and really preferred those made with bread flour.