Homemade Bread Flour Substitute

You don’t have bread flour at home and you want to make bread dough?

Don’t worry, we know how to make bread flour at home and we’ll give you instructions. Yes, you read that right, it is possible to make bread flour from good old all-purpose flour. 

Whether you have a small kitchen and no space to store all types of flour (for cakes, pastries, and bread), so you only buy all-purpose flour, or you just ran out of bread flour, these simple tricks will help you on every occasion.

What is Bread Flour?

Bread flour is ground from hard types of wheat, which makes it high on protein level. 

Bread flour contains the highest percent of protein of all flours – 12 – 14% (some even say it can get to 16%) and it is designed for yeasted bread doughs. A higher protein level means a better rise and bigger elasticity of the dough. Gluten provides stretch and strength to your bread dough and traps air bubbles inside of it. Protein amount is important for gluten development, which ensures your dough will have a nice chewy texture and recognizable bread taste. 

Flour rich in protein, such as bread flour, develop more gluten strength and that gives your dough structure. Flours low in protein will develop less gluten which results in a weaker dough.

You’ll need to knead bread flour more, to get a perfect loaf of bread, but the result will be great – airy and chewy texture and the recognizable taste we all love.

If you see signs “strong flour” or “hard flour” don’t be fooled – those are synonyms for bread flour. The term “strong flour” is usually used in the United Kingdom, because it’s made from hard wheat, unlike other types of flour.

What Can You Make From Bread Flour?

The first thing that comes to mind is bread, right? Yes, but you can use bread flour in many other recipes, such as sourdough bread, white bread, pizza dough, pretzels, salty rolls, bagels, cinnamon buns, babkas, and others.

All these pastries contain yeast and even if they don’t turn out right every time, you can still use the bread flour dough. Roll it with a rolling pin, sprinkle it with some olive oil, parmesan, salt, and herbs. Voila! You’ll get perfect tasty crackers for your snack.

How Can You Make Bread Flour at Home

If you’re all out of the bread flour you can make it by yourself at home. You’ll need just a few ingredients, but the results will be the same – you’ll get bread rich in texture and taste.

Mixing all-purpose flour and wheat gluten

To make a substitute for bread flour prepare some vital wheat gluten (wheat gluten flour). Wheat gluten flour is a fine powder that you can buy in every store or online. Add this product to all-purpose flour and it will increase the amount of protein in it. There is no unique opinion about the amount of wheat gluten. Some say one teaspoon is enough while others recommend two or three tablespoons for the best results.

I have just all-purpose flour, what do I do?

If you don’t have wheat gluten, use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour, in ratio 1:1.

Can I mix all-purpose and bread flour?

If you have leftovers of bread flour you can mix it with all-purpose flour. If the mixture contains more all-purpose flour than bread flour, your dough will be softer and easier to spread. And vice versa, if there is more bread flour, the dough will be more elastic and harder to spread. This is important if you want to shape your dough in a form of ciabatta.

Can I use pastry or cake flour instead of bread flour?

We wouldn’t recommend using cake flour for bread dough. This flour has a low content of protein and your bread won’t rise. Cake flour contains only 8% of protein and for the perfect loaf of bread, you’ll need at least 12%. Pastry flour has a little bit more protein than cake flour, but still not enough for a bread dough rise. 

Recipes that call for bread flour are best made with that flour but don’t hesitate to make a substitute at home if you’re out of this ingredient.

Substitute for Bread Flour 

As we said, all-purpose flour can be a great substitute for bread flour. You can use it by itself, mix it with wheat gluten or, if you have leftovers of bread flour, combine them.

Here are the exact amounts:

Mixing all-purpose flour with wheat glutenTake a cup (4 ½ ounces or 129 grams) of all-purpose flour remove 1 ½ tablespoon (⅛  ounces or 5 grams) of flour add 1 ½ tablespoon (⅛  ounces or 5 grams) of wheat gluten.
All-purpose flour onlyUse all-purpose flour instead of bread flour.
Mixing all-purpose and bread flourUse them in a 1:1 ratio. One cup of all-purpose flour mix with one cup of bread flour.

Can You Mix Bread Flour with Other Flours?

Yes, you can mix bread flour with all-purpose flour and get the perfect result – chewy, airy texture, and great taste. Mix them in ratio 1:1 – one cup of all-purpose flour and one cup of bread flour.

You can also mix cake flour with bread flour. That way you’ll get a total amount of protein around 9% which is almost like all-purpose flour. The same goes for pastry flour, which has even more protein than the one for cakes.

Tip: If you’re mixing two kinds of flour, always stir them well with a spatula, before you start kneading. 

Best Way to Store Bread Flour

It doesn’t matter if you bake bread occasionally, every once in a while, or every day, you’ll want your flour to be as fresh as possible. If your bread flour is fresh, the final result will be better. 

Fine flours, such as all-purpose or bread flour, should be stored in an airtight container or a bag with a ziplock. Airtight flour containers will keep air, bugs, and all kinds of dirt far away from your flour. Your airtight container must have a firm cover or seal. It can be made from plastic or glass – both are equally good.

Store your container in a dry, dark, and cold place. Bread flour has a shelf life (it will be good to use) of about a year. 

If you live in a warm climate and want to keep your bread flour fresh longer, put it in a freezer – its lifetime will prolong for two years. Flour should be kept in an airtight container or a bag with a ziplock when you are freezing it, too.

Tip: To keep your bread flour fresh, buy it in smaller amounts rather than in bulk.