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Bleached or Unbleached White Wheat Flour?

I hadn't thought about this topic in a long while but it was recently brought to my attention so I thought I'd write about it. What is the difference between bleached and unbleached all-purpose white wheat flour and which should you use? I think the short answer is that in general, there is no right or wrong and it is personal preference. That being said, there really are some subtle differences in taste, texture and appearance and you might choose one over the other depending on what you are making.

I did some internet research to find out more. Here's what I found.

  • Both are flours processed from crushing or milling the grains of wheat into a fine powder.

  • Bleaching is achieved by adding chemicals such as chlorine gas, benzoyl peroxide or potassium bromate to speed up the aging process resulting in a flour with a whiter color, finer grain, and softer texture.

  • Bleached flours have shorter proteins affecting the way it absorbs liquids and holds its structure. It is better for baked goods like cookies, pie crusts, cakes, quick breads.

  • Using bleached flour will yield a whiter end product.

  • Unbleached flour will age naturally on its own with time.

  • Unbleached flours with their longer proteins hold their structure better and are better for yeast breads, popovers, puff pastries, eclairs, etc.

  • Both have same calories and same nutritional value for the white flour but whole wheat unbleached contains more nutrients.

For my family, I don't buy bleached, all-purpose flour. I only buy unbleached. I don't think our taste buds are fine enough to taste the difference. I don't choose it only because if there is a choice, even if small, that I can make for less processed or more healthy, I will choose that. It doesn't matter to us if the appearance isn't as white or the texture may be slightly different. For us, it's ok.

Choose which is right for yourself and what you are making. Either way put your love into your cooking and it will be wonderful!

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