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The flour that we used to use in our bread making machine is called Strong White Flour - and has recently doubled in price. I'm not happy paying double what I used to for it, but don't want to completely give up on making our own bread (and other things - e.g. pizza dough) in the machine.

Does anyone know how I can replicate strong white flour at home - maybe using plain or self-raising flour as a base?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The BBC lists strong white flour as simply flour made from hard white wheat, which tends to have a higher gluten content.

By mixing all purpose flour (German: 550, French: 55) with the package recommended amount of vital wheat gluten or by using bread flour you should be able to make bread in your machine just fine. I usually use either AP flour or a mixture of AP and whole wheat (German: 1600, French: 150), or even all whole wheat (although with all wheat I find adding gluten is extremely helpful for getting a well-risen loaf).

You can also buy other types of high gluten flour, either with that label or listed as bread flour.

If you live in a part of the world with "0" and "00" flour, the protein content of "00" flour is similar to that of all purpose flour, but the grind of all purpose flour will be more coarse. "Panifiable" 00 flour has the gluten content of bread flour (source).

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I don't think you need bread-machine flour, but I haven't use bread machines. Have you tried all purpose flour?

In my experience, bread flour is overrated. When I started learning how to bake bread, I bought one the cheapest flour I found (all purpose, from Costco) because it was cheap and I didn't know about the different types of flour. What I learn is that the difference is not big. My breads and pizza were very similar. After several tries, I ended buying all purpose or whole wheat, but not bread flour.

Also, for pizzas, all purpose is closer to what they use in Italy (00 - if I remember American Pie from Peter Reinhart correctly) so if you use stronger flours, you should add some olive oil to the dough to compensate.

By the way, Jim Lahey, from Sullivan Street Bakery, also thinks that the flour you use is not that important: Great bread is not about the wheat that goes into it.

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1  
It's not hard to transform AP flour to bread flour at all. Pick up some vital wheat gluten and add it to up the protein content of your flour and done. –  justkt Nov 5 '10 at 12:23
    
@justkt Never bought something like that... would that be cost worthy? –  Julio Nov 5 '10 at 12:31
    
it seems pricey up front, but then you realize you only use a small abount at a time and that it can occasionally be cheaper than bread flour. –  justkt Nov 5 '10 at 12:34
    
Edit: removed the "it can't be done" part. –  Julio Nov 5 '10 at 20:34
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The specific flour/wheat varietal may not be that critical, but the gluten content certainly is. For example, Canadian All Purpose flour is generally "harder" than American flour, so Canadian AP may work where an American would need Bread Flour or to add gluten. –  sdg Nov 6 '10 at 0:45

You can use basically any kind of flour you want. Bread is made with all sorts of flour, soft wheat, hard wheat, buck, malt, corn, rye...

As long as you mix:

  • any kind of wheat
  • water or milk
  • any kind of raising agent (yeast, sodium bicarbonate, baking powder, etc.)
  • some salt

you will have bread. :-)

The fact that you use a bread machine is not relevant as long as the proportions and quantities are correct, and you don't overexert the motor.

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Use a simple "0" or "00" flour, personally I mix them on a 1:1 ratio ...

Put the flour in a bowl, add a bit of salt and a modest quantity of brewer's yeast dissolved in warm water and a teaspoon of sugar to help the process.

Leave in a warm place, covering with a damp cloth ... when the volume will be doubled just impaste again

Stay away from self rising mixtures, they are the evil !

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"0" and "00" flour are European (specifically Italian) designations - sadly they are very expensive in the US and some other parts of the world, but I'm sure this will be helpful for those who can get them easily. –  justkt Nov 5 '10 at 13:53
    
They are simply flour, being the "00" finer grained than "0" ... nothing special :) –  AlberT Nov 5 '10 at 14:00
    
Uh, 'recipient' is the wrong word (a "person who receives something" is going to be very unhappy when you try to put flour into him or her). You were probably thinking of 'receptacle', though even that's a bit formal/awkward for the context. Try "bowl". –  Marti Nov 5 '10 at 16:01
    
sure, its a "false friend" for italian "recipiente" :) Thanx –  AlberT Nov 8 '10 at 16:15
    
same word in Spanish :) –  belisarius Nov 8 '10 at 19:48

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