Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

The texture and flavor of bread are strongly influenced by the kind of flour used. “Bread flours” are milled from high-protein wheats, require a long kneading period to develop their strong gluten, and produce well-raised loaves with a distinctive, slightly eggy flavor and chewy texture. Lower-protein “all-purpose” flours give breads with a lower maximum volume, more neutral flavor, and less chewy texture, while flours from soft wheats with weak gluten proteins make denser loaves with a tender, cake-like crumb. The more of the outer aleurone, bran, and germ that makes it into the flour, the darker and denser the bread and the stronger the whole-grain flavor. The baker can mix different flours to obtain a particular character. Many artisan breadmakers prefer flours with a moderate protein content, 11–12%, and an extraction rate somewhere between standard white and whole wheat flours.