A Substitute for Bread Flour

You probably won't notice the difference

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Bread Flour Substitute. Erin Huffstetler

If you come across a recipe that calls for bread flour and you don't have any on hand, you can save yourself a trip to the store and a few bucks by using this pantry ingredient as a substitute. A lot of cooks are hesitant to try substitutes, fearful that the end result won't be the same, but this one is sure to keep your recipe on track. So why spend money on a "special" ingredient if you don't have to?

What You'll Need 

You definitely won't have to make a big time investment. This bread flour substitute literally takes no additional time to make. There's no cooking involved—at least not to convert the flour. 

As for ingredients, all you'll need is some all-purpose flour. Simply replace the bread flour called for in the recipe with an equal amount of all-purpose flour and proceed as usual. Yes, it's that easy. 

What's the Difference Between Bread Flour and All-Purpose Flour?

Of course, it begs asking. If you can use all-purpose flour in place of bread flour, why make the distinction at all? Why do recipes even bother specifying bread flour?

It's all about the protein. All-purpose flour has between 8 and 11 percent protein, while bread flour contains between 12 to 14 percent. That extra protein in bread flour results in a slightly higher rise, but you'll still get a good rise with all-purpose flour.

Bread flour also produces more gluten. Unless you're gluten sensitive, this can be a good thing, depending on your recipe and how you like your bread. It will come out just a bit denser and maybe a little chewier if you use bread flour.

If you're unsure, try the recipe a few times using all-purpose flour—if you and your family decide that the recipe is a keeper, ​then you might consider buying some bread flour to see if it makes any appreciable difference.

Who knows? You might just decide that you’re perfectly happy with the way the recipe turns out with the all-purpose flour, so you can skip buying bread flour altogether if that’s the case. Some brands of bread flour can cost a dollar or so extra than the all-purpose equivalent, and a penny saved is a penny earned. ​

Substitutes for Other Specialty Flours

Don’t feel that you have to go to the trouble and expense of stocking 10 different types of flours because you like to bake. If a recipe calls for a type of flour that you don’t have in your pantry, there’s probably a substitute for it. Die-hard and professional bakers will probably tell you there’s absolutely no substitute for the particular type of flour called for in a recipe, but in reality, the difference between one type of flour and another is so subtle, most people don't notice the difference. So just use what you have and enjoy the tasty results.

Here are some substitutes for specialty flours that you might not have in your pantry: