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My local bakery tends to put flour on the top of what I thought was already baked bread (but which based on the answers apparently is flour added before the baking process).

It looks something like this:enter image description here

Is this purely for decoration or is there a good reason for doing this?

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    Are you suggesting they put it on after they remove from the oven, or were the loaves floured before baking? – moscafj May 15 '17 at 10:47
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    @moscafj I am not sure how it is done. All I can say is that on top it looks like regular flour to me and also a lot is falling off, which I find quite annoying. Neither do I care much for the taste of raw flour. I added a picture of what it looks like. – user1583209 May 15 '17 at 11:13
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In traditional bread making methods loaves are often risen in a proofing basket: Proofing Basket

The bread takes on the shape of the basket as it proves, and is then turned out onto a baking surface, in other words it is risen upside down. You need a lot of flour on the dough to keep it from sticking to the sides of the basket, especially in the caps between the rattan. Any excess flour will remain on the bread as it's baked.

There's no practical reason for having that much flour on the top of a tin loaf like the one you posted in your question as those are risen right side up, there's nothing on the top of the bread to stick to. However, when the bread is turned out of the tin it could be onto a floured surface or a very floury hand, the excess flour will tend to stick on.

It's very doubtful, although possible, that the flour is added after baking. If so it is to give it authenticity. If the bread is good quality and you like it just brush the excess flour off before you cut it.

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    Thank you for the explanation. I am very happy with the bread below the flour, so will continue to remove the excess flour before eating. – user1583209 May 15 '17 at 13:06
  • Oh, yeah, right. Now that I think about it, I grease, then flour my bread pans, per the cooking instructions, whenever I make apple bread, so the loaf comes out cleanly. – PoloHoleSet May 15 '17 at 13:59
  • You don't always grease and flour yeast breads when they go into load pans @PoloHoleSet, in fact I never do. It's generally not needed unless you have a very sticky dough. – GdD May 15 '17 at 14:54
  • @GdD - I realize that, but I was commenting on how flour is sometimes used to facilitate getting the loaves out, which I have been doing, but never really thought about it. – PoloHoleSet May 15 '17 at 15:13
  • @PoloHoleSet actually the flour in question is on top of the bread, and that part never touches the tin, so it couldn't be for that. – Luciano Dec 8 '17 at 13:30
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That loaf looks like it was generously floured before baking, in which case it's not raw but I can understand if you don't like the taste. You should probably either choose different bread or dust it off all in one go (a pastry brush might help.

As to why it's there, we can only guess. Hand-formed loaves are often quite floury. Perhaps mass-produced bread is aiming to give that impression, or maybe it was actually made by hand.

3

As Chris H says, we cannot guess why the bakery decided to use a method which uses that amount of flour.

Despite what the accepted answer says, it is entirely possible that the method needed that much flour. For example, when I make Jim Lahey's original no-knead, this amount of flour is needed on all sides so it won't stick to the proof cloth and then to the dutch oven. Granted, once in the Dutch oven, the flour on top is not exactly necessary, but it is way too much hassle to remove it from the hot container, so I leave it there and my bread comes out as the one you posted. Also, my neighbours ask what I burned, since flour dust gets everywhere in the oven and burns, making the whole house smell charred.

But of course the bakery can also use a method where this amount of flour is convenient but not necessary, or, as Chris H said, purposefully added to mimic the looks of homemade rustic bread. It is almost certainly added before rather than after baking, but it still has a distinct powdery taste.

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