Food Facts: Bleached vs. Unbleached Flour

As I started getting into baking more,  my husband, Chris, suggested making the switch to unbleached all-purpose flour. It made me wonder what the difference between bleached and unbleached flour really is. So here's what I've learned:

Bleach flour uses chemical bleaching agents to speed up the aging process, which produces a whiter, finer-grain  flour with a softer texture. Baked goods made with bleached flour tend to have a softer texture, more volume, and a brighter color than unbleached. Unbleached flour is bleached naturally as it ages, and therefore takes longer to produce.  It has an off-white color that dulls as it ages, and is a denser grain than bleached flour.

According to The Kitchn, bleached flour is best for making cookies, pie crusts, quick breads, muffins, and pancakes. Since unbleached flour has a denser texture, it provides more structure in baked goods, making it best for yeast breads, cream puffs, éclairs, and pastries.

Chris and I had assumed that unbleached flour must mean a healthier, and slightly more expensive option than bleached flour. However, there is no guarantee that unbleached flour is chemical-free, so if we're looking to make the switch to a chemical-free flour, a little more label review is required.

We made the switch to unbleached flour a couple weeks ago and I honestly haven't noticed a difference. We have also started using bread and cake flour. I reasoned that all-purpose flour was the easy go-to for a range of recipes, but if you really want to take your baked good to the next level, you need to invest in specific flours.

My next Food Facts post explores the seemingly endless flour options. What is the difference between all these flours? Where do they shine best? And is it really worth the investment in ingredients and cabinet space to purchase all that flour?




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