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I have bread flour (King Arthur) at home all the time, but I don't usually have all-purpose flour, as bread is pretty much the only thing I bake from scratch. I want to make basic banana bread following this recipe. I have never made banana bread before.

Can I substitute bread flour for the all-purpose flour? I also have stone-ground whole-wheat flour that I use for chapatis. Would some mixture of whole-wheat and bread flour be a better substitute? The reviews for the banana bread recipe say that it results in a dense loaf, so would using bread flour make it even more dense and thereby unappetizing?

I don't particularly want to keep all-purpose flour on hand in addition to bread flour and whole wheat flour, as my pantry has tons of flours already; ten at last count. I searched online and on this site but the questions typically seem to be about subbing AP flour for bread flour, or using some other flour instead of wheat flour. I was unable to find anything specifically about using bread flour instead of AP flour.


Update I decided to risk replacing 1/3 cup of the bread flour with rice flour. I thought that since rice flour is lighter and has no gluten, it would offset the increased denseness caused by using a high-gluten flour. The banana bread turned out fine.

I have posted a follow-up question about using maida in combination with bread flour to create an all-purpose flour substitute.

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    I wouldn't recommend it. If you do, only barely mix it, as you don't want to develop too much gluten or you'll get tunneling. see cooking.stackexchange.com/a/1729/67 – Joe Feb 15 '17 at 3:21
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    Bread flour is more dense... why would it give a lighter texture? Flour is rated by its protein content - cake flour is the lowest, AP in the middle and bread flour the highest. – Catija Feb 15 '17 at 4:07
  • @Catija oh yeah, good point. I forgot that it's the yeast interacting with the gluten that causes bread to rise, not just the high gluten flour by itself. Edited the question. – verbose Feb 15 '17 at 4:08
  • It could end up lighter when there is more lift due to more developed gluten that can take advantage of the leavening... but then, you are far into bread-bread, not banana bread territory.... – rackandboneman Feb 15 '17 at 10:15
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With some precautions in your mixing method, you could substitute Bread Flour for AP Flour in Banana Bread. Mind you, it may make a stronger, more dense, more chewy banana bread than people expect--but it would still be pallatable, some may even prefer it.

As discussion here points out: the main concern in the substitution is the higher gluten of bread flour.

I checked the King Arthur website, found that this bread flour is 12.7% protein (gluten). According to this chart from Cooking for Geeks (I am not affiliated with the book) indicates, this is low-to-average for gluten in bread flours:

enter image description here Not over-mixing is critical in this situation, since mixing forms gluten. I can't describe better than @Sam Ley did here. Sam makes a great point: you should be comfortable leaving some dry clumps in the batter.

Also, if tempted to sift the flour, I would hesitate. sifting the flour will increase powder surface area, which would facilitate more gluten formation.

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