French Bread

Loaf of Bread

 

Bread Flour, Bread Machines, History and Other Stuff

 

 

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of bread flour is thus:

bread flour

–noun

wheat flour from which a large part of the starch has been removed, thus increasing the proportion of gluten.

Also called gluten flour.

 

 

Unlike self rising bread, I cannot find a site for when bread flour was first introduced to baking.  I have seen suggestions bread flour came along when the bread machine was invented.  It was patented by an African-American inventor, Joseph Lee, in Boston and patented in 1902.  However, in the UK, Hovis flour was created in 1886, when miller Richard Smith discovered a way to separate wheat germ from the flour, cooking it and adding it back into the flour while preventing fermentation which spoils the flour.  His partnership with Thomas Fitton was later to become The Hovis Bread Flour Company Limited in 1898.  Later, in America,  Gold Metal introduced what was called “High Protein Flour” in the 1920s.  It was discontinued in 1974, but brought it  back as “Better for Bread Flour” in 1979.  Therefore I do not believe it the bread machine was the catalyst for the creation of bread flour.  However, if you know of the history of it’s creation, please feel free to add comments.  I am curious, but tired of internet searches.

 

 

Several sites, including Smitten Kitchen, suggest making your own bread from all purpose flour by adding a tablespoon of gluten to each cup of flour in a recipe.  You do not have to use all purpose flour exclusively for your homemade bread flour, you can also use rye, buckwheat and barley – though other flours do not have the extra gluten in them to hold your breads together as these do, so I wouldn’t use another type of flour if you are planning on company.  I do wonder if you can do this with spelt flour, though.  Bread flour has a gluten rate of about 13-14%, whereas all purpose flour is around 12%.  So you will want to substitute the AP flour with something with a similar gluten rate, or use a little extra gluten in your mix.  Experiment!  This is what makes cooking and baking fun!

 

 

As with other flours, bread flour only has a shelf life of six months.  If you refrigerate it, you may be able to keep it a little longer.  If you store it in the freezer, you can keep it up to two years.

 

 

Keep your flour away from other stored items which have strong odors, such as onions, as the flour will absorb these smells.  A bay leaf in your container will help keep insects out of your flour, as well.  I am a huge proponent of buying your supplies in bulk (family of five, it saves us money), but remember, if you aren’t a big baker buying in bulk is not worth the savings if you throw out most of your purchase because it has gone bad.

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this installment of my flour series.  If you have any requests, or just a comment, please feel free to leave it below.  My next post will be all about rye flour, so keep an eye out, and maybe spread the word 🙂

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