Following is the list of flours that I can get hold of in India easily:

What can be the combination of these flours which can then result in a substitute for the bread flour?

  • 2
    You don't actually need bread flour for bread in general, there are many countries which only grow soft wheat and make bread from AP flour. But if you want to make a specific high-gluten recipe, it is better to add gluten to AP flour than to substitute.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 12:32
  • I don't know if the pricing and/or cost of shipping is a good value for your but you can order bread flour online. I have had good results from King Arthur Flours.
    – Cos Callis
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 13:09

3 Answers 3


None of those flours on its own is a good substitute for bread flour, at least for making yeast raised breads.

Yeast raised breads require the development of gluten, which is possible only with a wheat based flour. This leaves you only three choices:

  • Whole wheat flour
  • Maida
  • Semolina

Comparing the characteristics of each of these to bread flour:

  • Whole wheat flour, depending on the wheat from which it is milled, may have higher or lower protein levels. Your particular whole wheat flour has a moderately high protein level, at the bottom end of the bread flour range.

    However, the bran that is a component of whole wheat flour is very sharp at the small scale, and does not participate in the chemistry or physical structure of gluten creation. In fact, the sharp edges of the bran actually serve to physically block formation of gluten strands, and even cut already formed strands.

    For this reason, whole wheat flour is less than ideal for some bread making. In general, you would want to substitute only a portion of bread flour with whole wheat flour; in fact, it is better to use it only in bread recipes specifically designed for it. If you do choose to use it in lieu of bread flour, consider starting with only 25% of the total flour amount.

    Finally, whole wheat flour has a different flavor than white flours, due to the additional components in the flour from the entire wheat berry. The bran, the germ, and the endosperm all ground together (thus the term whole wheat), giving the flour its own flavor from each of these components--mostly the germ.

    This is also what leads to the shorter shelf life of whole wheat flour.

  • Maida flour. According to Wikipedia, maida flour is a soft (low protein) flour comparable to cake flour or pastry flour.

    This means that it has much less protein, and much less gluten formation potential than bread flour does, on a weight for weight basis.

  • Semolina. Semolina is a hard wheat flour with a high protein level, but is typically very coarsely ground. Generally, you can feel the individual granules when you pick it up and hold it between your fingers, and can see them when you look quite closely.

    This is a much larger grind than bread flour.

    You can make bread with semolina, as this recipe from King Arthur Flour demonstrates.

With these components available to you, you would need to experiment to find the best possible outcome—and unfortunately, that is not the best place to start if you are not already a a fairly comfortable bread maker.

My best guess is that your best outcome would be from a mixture of semolina and maida, probably about 50-50. However, the dough may take longer to hydrate and come together than expected, due to the larger grains of the semolina.

If you wish to incorporate whole wheat flour, I recommend starting with 25% of your total flour, and no more than 50% total.

Note: India Curry article refers to an Indian flour called atta which is much closer in its description to bread flours... is it not available in your region?

  • "Atta" IS the whole wheat flour. They have a translation problem. And my family and neighbors think that western people call Chapatis - breads. Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 10:31
  • Okay, I think I'll find out the biggest bakery shop around and see if they can sell me bread flour. BTW, what is bread flour composed of? Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 10:32
  • Okay, may there is a possiblity that the "Atta" they are referring to is made from a different kind of wheat? But anyway, if you are going to tell the shopkeeper to give you Atta, you'll only get the whole wheat flour. Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 10:35
  • Its just ground wheat endosperm, but from varieties of wheat that are higher in protein compared to the wheat from which cake/pastry flour or ground, and somewhat higher than all purpose. Note that all or any of these may also be a blend of different wheats.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 10:36
  • 1
    I have no idea if this is available in India, but you can add wheat gluten (also sold as "vital wheat gluten" in the US) to a lower protein flour (like maida) to make it more like bread flour. You'll want to add somewhere around 1-3 tsp to each cup of regular flour.
    – jalbee
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 10:44

In India the "Bhalia" wheat variety seems to be the closest match to the red wheat found in western countries containing high gluten, A study also found it to be superior for bread making. This variety is only grown and licensed exclusively in a region named "Bhal" in Gujarat India and is very difficult to source. "Khapli" wheat is another high gluten variety which is again difficult to find but has one of the highest gluten ideal for bread making , it has long grains and dark in colour:

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Alternatively if you are unable to source the above wheat then you can get the "Khichda" wheat also called as "Khandela" wheat which has the outer coating of wheat scraped off, this is easily available in Muslim localities in Delhi which they use to prepare the traditional "Khichda" dish , this reduces the bran content and hence increases the gluten \ grain content.


I'm in Goa. I use maida, rawa (semolina) and atta. I also have atta with multigrain flour. I'm just looking at getting some Ashirvaad Select Wholewheat???. I was quizzing a Nepali at the German Bakery today. He said he can get me some of the flour he uses. It might be a hidden secret. Happy baking.

  • Please come back and let us know if you're able to get flour from the baker, and if you use the Ashirvaad Select Wholewheat. Also, do you mix the maida, rawa (semolina) and atta?
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 21:58

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