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Should I Use Bleached, Unbleached, Bread, or All-Purpose Flour in My Recipe?

Learn which kind of flour to use to make your recipe perfect.

Learn which kind of flour to use to make your recipe perfect.

It's in the Flour

I just love to bake. I especially love to bake Italian and French bread, bagels, pizza crust, and focaccia bread. I have been on an endless quest to find the best flour to make my most masterful loaves of bread or pizza crusts.

Practice makes perfect, and I have perfected some of my recipes. Finding the best flour to use in each recipe really made a huge difference.

What's the Best Flour to Use in Any Recipe?

There are plenty of popular brand names of flour that can be purchased from most of our local markets. And some of us have our favorites that we've been using for years.

I prefer Gold Medal Flour because of the variety that they offer. I mainly use:

  • Gold Medal All-purpose Bleached,
  • All-purpose Unbleached,
  • Better for Bread,
  • and Bread flour.

Having my pantry stocked with those four types of flour, I can whip up any recipe at a moment's notice. Nowadays, shopping for flour is even easier by going online and purchasing just about any kind of flour that you can think of, along with all sorts of specialty baking goods and many of your kitchen needs.

All Flours Are Not Created Equal

All flours are not created equal and the success or failure of your recipe depends largely on the type of flour you use.

I have made countless mistakes and have taken many notes keeping track of which flour works best with which recipe.

Did you ever wonder why last years holiday cookies turned out better than this years? Maybe it was the type of flour that you used.

Using unbleached flour rather than bleached flour in your recipe can make a big difference. Using the wrong flour can turn your delicate flake pastry into a paper weight or your favorite pizza crust recipe into a soggy mess.

Thin crust pizza

Thin crust pizza

Let's Keep It Simple

Keeping it simple and not getting too technical, I have composed this brief and uncomplicated list of which flour does what. The thing to remember is that the higher the protein (gluten) in the flour, the better your results will be in your breads and heartier baked good recipes. And in the same respect, the lower the protein (gluten) in your flour, the more delicate and flakier your pie crust will turn out.

Types of Flour

  • White Bleached—All-purpose Flour is one of the most common types of flour used in the United States. Bleached flour is a softer flour, which has the lowest protein content (gluten), somewhere around 8%. White bleached flour is best used for pie crusts, some cakes, cookies, pancakes, and waffles.
  • White Unbleached—All-purpose Flour has a higher protein (gluten) content of approximately 11% and is good for baking most cakes, muffins, biscuits, biscotti, and some pizza crusts.
  • Whole Wheat Flour does not have a high protein (gluten) content and is often mixed with an all-purpose flour in order to 'hold' your recipe together. It is used in breads, muffins, and bagels.
  • White 'Better for Bread' Flour has a protein (gluten) content between actual bread flour and regular unbleached, all-purpose flour. It adds bulk to a recipe and will do in a pinch for hearty bread, but for me, it's best used for pizza crust and focaccia breads.
  • White Bread Flour is, in my opinion, the very best for making bread and bagels. It has one of the highest protein (gluten) content at approximately 12% to 14% and has a lot of density to it.
  • Whole Wheat Bread Flour has the same high protein (gluten) content of 12% to 14% and is used to make all types of whole wheat breads, bagels, pizza crust, and biscuits.

Quick Guide for the 3 Most Common Flours

White Beached FlourWhite Unbleached FlourWhite Bread Flour

Puff Pastry


Most Breads

Pie Crust




Thin Pizza Crust

Pizza Crust




Happy Baking

This is not a complete list of all the flours that are available, but these are the most commonly used in the United States. I hope to be posting some of my favorite bread, bagel, and pizza recipes in my upcoming articles.

© 2012 Irenevosburgh