People study bread-baking techniques for years, and I am the first to admit I'm far from an expert. But I do know my way around whole-grain flours and often bake Jim Lahey's simple, dreamy round loaf and Laurie Colwin's wheat baguette at home. Recently in their May 2012 issue, Saveur did a story on American bread, with wonderful recipes and process photos. In it, they discuss the best flours to use for certain purposes. Here's what they say:
• All-purpose flour: This flour is a blend of hard and soft wheats and is wonderful for making airier breads, like baguettes.
• Bread flour: This flour has more protein than all-purpose flour, so it's sturdier and a good candidate for rustic loaves with a good chew.
• Whole-wheat flour: Like bread flour, whole-wheat flour is high in protein. Its darker color is a result of being ground with the wheat germ and bran intact. Many folks like it for its higher vitamin and mineral content, too.
• Rye flour: This flour absorbs more water than whole-wheat flour so it creates super sturdy loaves of bread. Many people use rye flour for sourdough starters because it attracts more natural yeasts than many other flours.
• Spelt flour: You wouldn't expect this, but spelt flour actually forms weak gluten despite its high protein content, leading to a much denser loaf. Many people mix in a dash of spelt flour with another type of flour to take advantage of its nice nutty flavor without relying on it solely for texture.
What's your go-to bread recipe, and what kind of flour do you reach for?
Read More: Choosing Flour for Bread Baking at Saveur
(Image: Emma Christensen)