Bread flour and unbleached all-purpose flour have higher protein contents than bleached all-purpose flour, and as such are better for making many types of bread. The gluten-forming proteins in flour connect when liquid is added to form gluten, which creates the structure and shape of the bread, and also its chewy texture. Higher protein also results in more browning. Gold Medal bread flour and Heckers flour have about 12 percent protein, which offers the lightest crumb and the ideal structure. Most other bread flours are higher in protein, so to approximate the right amount, use half bread flour and half unbleached all-purpose flour.
How to Measure Ingredients
Weighing is faster, easier, and neater than measuring. But measuring by volume is fine as long as you do it carefully and accurately. The way I have presented the volume measures is the way in which I would measure them. Instead of writing 6 tablespoons sugar, I express it as ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons because that is the more convenient approach. Also, the fewer measures used, the less room for error. Occasionally, for small amounts of dry ingredients such as ground cinnamon, which comes in bottles with small openings, I will call for 3 teaspoons instead of 1 tablespoon. But for sticky ingredients, I prefer giving the largest measuring spoon required because some of the ingredient always remains in the spoon, throwing off the final quantity if several spoonfuls are required.
For those who measure instead of weigh, I use two methods for measuring flour, depending on which method correlates most closely to the desired weight. “Sifted into the cup” means that the flour is pushed through either a sifter or strainer into a measuring cup that is sitting on a counter or other flat surface. The cup is never touched or shaken. Only the handle is held when the excess is swept off with a long flat spatula or knife. Sifting yields the least amount of flour. “Lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off” refers to spooning flour into the measuring cup and then sweeping off the excess on the top. This yields more than sifting, but less than the “dip and sweep” method (dipping the cup into the bin to fill and then leveling off the top). Flours should be stirred lightly before measuring, except for Wondra flour, which doesn’t tend to settle.
Liquids are expressed in measuring spoons, cups, and milliliters to avoid confusion between fluid ounces and weight ounces.
Unlike flour, sugar is measured by the dip and sweep method. This means that you dip the cup into the sugar bin to fill and then, without shaking or tapping it, sweep off the excess from the top.
All dry ingredients should be measured in a cup designed for solids. Liquid ingredients, including golden and corn syrups, should be measured in a liquid measure with a spout. There is a difference in volume between liquid and solid measuring cups (see note).