When making bread, it is essential to know which flour types are the best for making the tastiest bread. The wrong kind of flour can ruin your bread or make the entire bread-baking process that much more challenging. Baking bread can already be a long and tedious process at times, so you do not want to make it more complicated.
Any type of flour can be used to make bread, but that does not mean that any type of flour will work well or make good bread. Keep on reading to find out all there is to know about the best types of flour to use whenever you are making bread.
The Best Types of Flour for Making Bread
Making bread is meant to be a fun task, and it is even better when you are using the best type of flour for your kind of bread. Just make sure to keep in mind the kind of bread you are trying to create and the health benefits you want, and you will be creating your best bread loaves ever in no time.
This article will delve into the six types of flour that are best for making bread:
- Whole wheat bread flour
- Unbleached bread flour
- Unbleached all-purpose flour
- White-wheat bread flour
- Dark rye flour
- Plain flour
Whole Wheat Bread Flour
When trying to make a healthy loaf of bread, whole wheat flour is going to be your best bet. It has the highest levels of protein and fiber out of the different types of bread flours, and while the bread it makes can sometimes taste slightly bland, it is still one of the top types of flour to use whenever you are baking bread.
Bread made with whole wheat bread flour tends to be denser than bread made with other bread flour due to it being whole wheat. It can take a bit of extra water to get whole wheat dough consistency just right because of the higher protein levels in this type of bread.
Whole wheat bread flour will create loaves that rise very well and retain their shapes better throughout the baking process. The texture of whole wheat bread is preferred by many, which gives you another great reason to use this bread flour when baking your loaves.
The Palouse Brand Hard Red Spring Whole Wheat Bread Flour is my favorite for this type of flour. Another favorite is Bobs Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Flour. Especially if you are into organic foods.
Unbleached Bread Flour
Unbleached bread flour is another excellent flour choice when you are baking bread. Unbleached bread flour has that familiarity of white flour that most people are used to when baking, but it is unbleached, so it is stronger and retains its nutrients. The bread you bake will be healthier and more hearty.
Unbleached bread flour:
- Has less protein than whole wheat flour. Bread baked with unbleached bread flour will not rise as high as bread baked with whole wheat flour.
- Creates a very nice chewy crust that is easy to chew and less thick than the crust on bread baked with whole wheat flour.
- Has the perfect texture and taste for sandwich bread, so it is a preferred flour to use when baking sandwich bread.
Unbleached flour is an all-around top bread flour to use when baking bread, both from a flavor and a texture standpoint. It also lacks the extra density that comes from whole wheat bread flour, making it more suited for lighter, less dense, and fluffier bread. (Read How to Make Homemade Bread Less Dense or more Light and Fluffy).
I probably use this type of flour most when baking almost any type of bread. It seems to make a great loaf of bread as well as great pizza or rolls. The King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour is one of my favorites and it is quite popular.
Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
While most bread you see will be created with bread flour, you do not always need to use bread flour to make bread. Bread flour tends to be best, but all-purpose flour is another great type of flour to use for breaking certain kinds of bread. All-purpose flour also comes in handy if you do not have any actual bread flour on hand to use.
Unbleached all-purpose flour is best for when you are making bread that needs less rise. For example, pizza dough would work well with all-purpose flour (even though I prefer to use the unbleached bread flour for pizza). It lacks the same protein levels that you find with the bread flours, which keeps it from getting a very high rise when baking. This kind of flour might also create a bread loaf that has a harder time keeping its shape since it is not designed for bread specifically.
Thus, it is recommended that you only use unbleached all-purpose flour for bread or pizza that do not need very high rises and can handle losing their shapeliness. Unbleached all-purpose flour will help create a very fluffy, even buttery tasting bread, making it great for pizza bread and occasionally for sandwich bread.
As I mentioned, this is not my preferred flour to bake with but I tend to use the Gold Medal Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or the Pillsbury Best All Purpose Flour.
White-Wheat Bread Flour
White-wheat bread flour is a good choice for baking bread. White-wheat bread flour combines the best of two worlds, white flour, and wheat flour, to create a fantastic mix.
However, white-wheat flour is closer to wheat flour since it still contains the entire grain used to make it. This helps bread made with this flour to keep its shape throughout the baking process and rise fully.
It is known mostly as white-wheat flour because it has a lighter color to it, so visually, it looks somewhere between white bread and wheat bread. It is excellent for making white bread that still has a lot of health value to it. Bread baked with white-wheat flour also tends to be sweeter and tastier than its whole-wheat counterpart.
Since white-wheat bread contains the entire grain like wheat bread, it is one of the healthier types of bread baking flour that exist out there. This makes it a great choice when you want to bake bread that is sweet like white bread but healthy like wheat bread.
I’ve used the King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour and have been very happy with it.
Dark Rye Flour
Dark rye flour is another excellent choice for bread making, even though it is not a bread flour specifically. Rye bread itself tends to be a very acquired taste, meaning not everyone loves its unique taste. It can, however, make for an excellent bread for several reasons ranging from its texture to its health benefits.
- Dark rye flour creates a very high-quality bread and can be used on its own or mixed with other types of flours to create unique groupings of flavors.
- Dark rye bread is a denser and much more hearty style of bread, making it suitable for when you want bread that will last a good while.
- Dark rye creates a lovely thick crust, making it great for use in sandwiches.
Dark rye flour also comes with many health benefits that you cannot find in many other types of flour. It is an excellent source of iron and fiber since it is a whole grain flour. Dark rye flour does not go through the bleaching process, which removes many health benefits of flour. You can also find high protein levels in rye flour.
Rye flour, however, can be difficult for beginners to use. Start off with a mix of rye flour and another type of flour so that you can get the hang of baking with dark rye flour:
- Use a mix of 25% dark rye flour to 75% other flour or
- Use 50% dark rye flour to 50% other flour
I love rye bread and the rye taste but my family doesn’t like it so I don’t often bake it and therefore I don’t have a recommendation for a brand or type of flour.
Plain flour is not typically the best type of flour to use when making bread. However, it will work if you are attempting to make bread that is soft and not dense. Plain flour is best used when you are trying to make a softer bread that you do not need to be very dense, but when you still want a loaf that is better than your regular store-bought loaf.
If you want a denser loaf, you can mix flours. When making bread with plain flour, you can mix it with some strong flour varieties in order to create a better, denser loaf.
Is Plain or Self-Rising Flour Better for Bread?
Self-rising flour can be used for bread, but it is not recommended. Self-raising flour does not use yeast, which means that anything baked with self-rising flour will not rise as yeast flour would. At best, self-rising flour can create a type of quick bread, which does not rise much and is meant as just a quick bake.