Many arguments have been going on about high gluten flour vs bread flour controversy, and I have watched with amazement how some only know how to use these flour without knowing what differentiates them.
Since flour has been a part of our daily life and always sits pretty in grocery stores and our kitchens, it is wise to have some social and science-backed knowledge about it.
Let’s begin with the findings from the United States Department of Agriculture. According to their research, high-gluten flour contains 14% or even 15% protein, which is higher than the protein contents of other types of flour, including bread flour.
It was also discovered that the higher the amount of protein in flour, the higher the gluten. Let me further explain these flours and their characteristics to aid your understanding.
What is high gluten flour?
Gluten is a naturally occurring protein found in most grains, especially wheat. These grains are processed into flour but still retain their gluten constituents.
High gluten flour consists of a high percentage of protein and has the potential of retaining more moisture than other types of flour. This flour is made by dry-milling all parts of the wheat grain without extracting anything.
Characteristics of high gluten flour
Flour that contains high gluten is generally known as refined flour. When the dough is stretched and kneaded but still holds together and comes back to shape, that is the work of gluten.
Say you use flour regularly; you will notice, like I have, that baking comes out differently depending on your choice of flour. When I use high gluten flour, I already know it absorbs more water than other flour.
I am also cautious with my timing because it requires a longer time for fermentation to happen in your dough fully, so keep this in mind, too. Getting the consistency correctly helps to achieve that flavorful, delicious, chewy, yet airy texture with your baking.
It would not come out this way if the content were tampered with during milling. That’s why you need to know how high gluten flour is milled.
How is high gluten flour milled?
All the parts of the wheat go into milling so that the end product, which is the flour, can retain all the gluten.
It is evident that the wheat floor has the highest amount of gluten with at least a protein content of 75-80%, flour millers have found a way to tweak the gluten content for anyone who desires it.
Meanwhile, there is a DIY way to make homemade high gluten flour if you do not like the store-bought or are out of stock.
To achieve this, add one or two tablespoons of vital wheat gluten and mix it with your two cups of low or gluten-free wheat flour.
This method simply increases your wheat flour’s protein content and makes it more concentrated. You might ask, is high gluten flour the same as bread flour? The answer is no. It is slightly different from bread flour.
What is bread flour?
Bread flour is a wheat flour with high protein content. It is mostly milled from the hard red wheat species.
Yet another question that has been begging for an answer is, whether is bread flour high gluten or not.
The correct answer is straightforward: bread flour is high gluten flour, yet not as high in protein as high gluten flour.
The significant difference among them is the milling process. Instead of milling the whole grain, as in the case of high gluten flour, bread flour is milled only from a part of the wheat called the endosperm.
This reduces the bread flour’s protein content to 12-14%.
If you are present during milling, you can decide how much endosperm part goes into your bread flour. It will help you control the amount of protein (gluten) you want in your bread flour.
Characteristics of bread flour
Generally, I can not help but mention how bread flour provides us with a significant amount of nutrition. This flour is not only high in protein but packed with vitamins like folate, selenium, and thiamin.
That said, the gluten in bread flour is the reason for the rising of the bread during baking.
I bet you see why the lack of gluten during bread baking significantly impacts the bread. It affects the mixing and, by extension, the texture of the final bread product.
Suitable bread flour baking application
The high amount of protein allows you to add enough water during your dough mixing, which aids in the excellent development of your dough.
The two proteins in bread flour, glutenin, and gliadin, allow for more dough expansion during fermentation and work well with yeast. This helps your bread to come out well-shaped, raised, and nice after baking.
Let’s look at more general characteristics of these flours.
High gluten flour vs bread flour
There are things you must remember and keep in mind the next time you walk into the grocery store and down the baking flour aisle. Those things are the contents of these flours, what they bake best, and every other detail.
With that, you won’t walk through that aisle lost in confusion and getting overwhelmed about the high gluten flour or the bread flour uses.
The protein contents of high gluten flour vs bread flour are close to each other in percentage, except you milled your bread flour and intentionally extracted some gluten.
When measured according to their natural contents, high gluten flour has a protein content of 14-15%, while bread flour comes down with a protein content of 12-14%.
Gluten strength and elasticity
As I said earlier, gluten is not only the protein in flour containing high gluten. Gliadin performs alongside gluten. They are the two naturally occurring proteins in high gluten flours.
So, gluten provides sturdiness, which gives the dough strength. Elasticity, which is the ability to bounce back. Gliadin makes the dough to stretch.
The presence of these proteins makes the bread dough sturdy and elastic and the bread chewy. It is the same reason why bread flour is considered hard flour.
I have received different messages from friends asking this same question over and over: what is high gluten flour used for? Here is my reply to them.
High gluten flour is best used for baking that requires lengthy fermentation. Some examples of high gluten flour uses include baking:
- Cinnamon buns
- Pizza dough
- Crusty rolls
Meanwhile, bread flour can be used for all bread recipes, especially when yeast is involved—breads like Sourdough bread, Artisan dough, Bagels, white bread, Pretzels, etc.
You can make chewy noodles with it, too. Remember, when you substitute bread flour with soft flour like cake flour, your result will never be the same.
Texture of the final product
While baking with a high gluten flour, the texture of the flour feels different. Same with the texture of the final product.
The elastic texture speaks about the gluten in the flour, and the final product produces volume and an airy textured bread.
This is almost the same with the bread flour. The gluten content in the bread flour makes the dough rise upwards instead of sideways or inward.
Bread flour also requires extra time with kneading to activate the gluten fully. The final texture has an airy and chewy feeling to it.
Price and availability
Bread flour is among the most abundant in the market, both online and offline. Walmart sells various brands of bread flour at affordable prices. Some brands go for as low as $3 per 5lb bag.
High gluten flour is available in different brands and displayed in online stores like Amazon, Walmart, King Authur, etc. You can purchase an unbleached high gluten flour for $23.
However, making your preferred high gluten flour at home is possible.
The ash content of flour simply means its mineral or non-organic content. To get this ash content, you must burn a certain amount of flour under a guided condition and measure the flour’s residue.
The species of wheat the flour was milled from is also directly responsible for the ash content of the flour. Meaning that ash content varies greatly among flours.
The ash content of type 65 high gluten flour is 0.62-0.75%, while the ash content of bread flour is about 0.50 – 0.55%.
Bread flour can be mixed with other types of flour to achieve a gluten-free bread flour or a different mix of bread flour. For me, I get a good blend with these three flours:
- Sorghum flour
- Amaranth flour
- Buckwheat flour
A gluten free flour blend is devoid of gluten and there are many recipes to achieve this mix, like rice flour and tapioca flour.
High gluten flour can absorb about twice as much water as its size, which is about 63%.
Bread flour needs enough water to knead the dough perfectly, absorbing about 61% water.
You must pay attention if you wish to catch expired flour because the smell does not change drastically.
High gluten and bread flour has a shorter shelf life because of the high amount of gluten. The shelf life of bread flour can last for nine months but can stay a bit longer and fresher in the refrigerator.
Flour enrichment adds nutrients to the flour, which was lost previously during milling. Parts of wheat, like the bran and germ, may be extracted, leaving only the starchy endosperm.
You can add folic acid, Niacin, thiamin, iron, and other minerals and vitamins during enrichment.
A little analysis of the high gluten flour vs bread flour characteristics is essential to know more about them. These flours are exceptionally great in their capacities.
However, everyone is entitled to their choice, and I will help you make an informed decision by putting them side by side.
|Characteristics of High Gluten Flour||Characteristics of Bread Flour|
|Protein||14 – 15%||12 – 14%|
|Gluten development||Gluten begins to develop when the flour touches any liquid, especially water. Kneading continues to activate the gluten content.||Formed during bread dough kneading. Kneading helps the gluten strands to become firmer and stretchy.|
|Best uses||Pizza crumbs.||Various loaves of yeasted bread. Dinner rolls, bagels, pretzels, artisan breads.|
|Pros||Contains vitamins and minerals.||Great baking quality, rich in vitamins and minerals like Folic acid and Niacin. It supports brain function and aids in the production of DNA and RNA in the body.|
|Cons||Not suitable for people with wheat allergy, short shelf life, not often available in stores.||More expensive than other flours, Unsuitable for people with wheat allergy, short shelf life.|
What is suitable and preferable according to good health!
I do not have a favorite between the bread flour and the high gluten flour, and here’s why. These flours take baking to the peak and still give the body numerous nutritional values.
However, I can not say for everyone in the room. Some may prefer bread flour because they are bread lovers and love to try different bread recipes.
Others may prefer high gluten flour for reasons best known to them. It all goes for the love of the baked goodies.
These flours may be substituted, but you only succeed in taking away the best part of your baking experience.
Here is the nutritional content of high gluten flour vs bread flour all laid bare on the table.
|Bread flour’s nutritional content||High gluten flour nutritional content|
|Low in Cholesterol||Calories|
|Low saturated fatty acids||Carbohydrates|
Remember that we are here to decipher and thoroughly understand high gluten flour vs bread flour makeup and characteristics. And we succeeded.
The best part of the topic is helping you learn about these flours and then putting the power of choice into your hands.
I believe your confusion about the high gluten flour and bread flour content has taken a long walk and never plague you again.
It’s also important you try out some new recipes with these flours and learn more from the comfort of your kitchen. Ensure you keep your flour air-tight and dry.