Bakers Flour vs Bread Flour vs Plain Flour – Differences and Uses Explained!

Published Categorized as Journal

Have you ever gone shopping for flour and wondered about the difference between bakers flour vs bread flour vs plain flour? This question stumps many people, but today, we’ve uncovered the differences between these flours, as well as a few others, in order to help you select the right type of flour with confidence the next time you’re at the store.

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Ready to learn more about which flour is which? Let’s go! 

person kneading dough with flour

What Is Bakers Flour?

Baker’s flour is a type of flour that is high in protein.

In case you aren’t aware, different flours have different protein content. The protein content within flour is important to note because it can affect the density of the baked good you are making. The lesser the protein content, the lighter and more tender the crumb will be, in most cases. The higher the protein content, however, the more gluten will be made. Thus, the thicker, sturdier, and chewier the baked good will be.

Because baker’s flour is high in protein, and as a result, contains more gluten, it is best for baking bread. This is the reason that baker’s flour is often also referred to as “bread flour”. Both bread and baking flour, therefore, are interchangeable in baking. 

White Lily Unbleached Bread Flour, 5 Pound

Bakers Flour vs Bread Flour

Remember that baker’s flour is synonymous with bread flour. Both have high protein content, which results in high gluten. Gluten is a natural byproduct of wheat flour of any sort being mixed with water. Once wheat flour is mixed with water, the resulting mixture will contain gluten. 

It is important to note that not all flours will yield gluten when mixed with water. Any flour that is made from wheat will form gluten when mixed with water.

But there are some gluten-free flours, such as coconut flour, almond flour, and brown rice flour, that will not form gluten when combined with water. 

This is important because some people with gluten sensitivities are unable to consume gluten-containing products. Therefore, by making baked goods from gluten-free flours, people with Celiac Disease and other types of gluten intolerances aren’t negatively affected. 

bread made from different flours

Difference Between Cake Flour and Bread Flour

What Is the Difference Between Bread Flour and Cake Flour?

Now that you know the difference between bread or baker’s flour and other types of flour, it is time to delve into the difference between bread or baker’s flour and cake flour.

Difference Between Bread Flour and Cake Flour

“Cake” flour is called such because it is often used in cakes to produce a tender and light crumb. It contains less protein than other types of flour, usually as low as 5-8%. This lower protein content is what makes cake flour the perfect choice not only for cakes but for pastry baking as well. 

Baked goods such as biscuits and cupcakes will do well with cake flour, but will not do well with bread or baker’s flour. Using bread or baker’s flour in cakes, cupcakes, or biscuits will produce a heavy and dense product that is unlike what you may have been expecting.

Although baker’s and bread flour are unacceptable substitutes for cake and pastry flour, it should be noted that all-purpose flour, though the protein content is a bit higher, tends to be a very good substitution for cake and pastry flour when you don’t have any.

Bakers Flour Vs Bread Flour Vs Plain Flour

Can I Mix Bread Flour and All Purpose Flour?

Can You Mix Bread Flour and All Purpose Flour?

Mixing bread flour and all-purpose flour is safe for baking bread. It will yield no risks to your health and won’t produce negative outcomes.

Remember that baked bread can be made using all-purpose flour only, without the use of bread flour or baker’s flour. The results may not be as dense and chewy, but there are some that may prefer the lighter texture that all-purpose flour can provide bread texture.

Whatever you do, do not mix cake flour with all-purpose or bread flour for a bread recipe. The result will be a dough that is hard to work with and a final product that may fail to rise. 

Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour (12 lb.) (pack of 2)

What Is the Purpose of Flour in Baking?

Generally speaking, flour in a baked good provides structure to the dough.

Varying types of flour will have varying amounts of protein, which will affect the overall strength of the dough. Cake and pastry flours will have low protein content, and thereby will yield an end product that is light and tender when combined with the ingredients needed to make these recipes.

On the other hand, flour like baker’s or bread flour has a higher protein content yielding a sturdier dough that produces more gluten when combined with water. This will result in the deliciously chewy texture of thick and fluffy bread we all know and love. 

By using an alternative flour, whether bread flour for cakes and pastries or cake flour for bread, you are putting yourself at risk for a seriously failed recipe. Using cake flour in bread will make it so that your bread has difficulty rising due to the lack of protein. And using bread flour in a cake will make it dense and chewy which is not preferable for cake textures. 

Though all of this is true, remember that all-purpose flour is often…well, all-purpose! This means that the flour can be used to make cakes, pastries, and bread without producing negative results.

Still, if you are baking in large batches or want to produce either a more tender crumb (for cakes and pastries) or a chewier texture (for bread) we recommend choosing the correct flour to give you the ultimate results for your baked goods. 

What Baked Goods Are Best Made With Cake Flour?

As mentioned before, there are some baked goods that are best made with cake flour rather than bread flour.

Because cake flour has a lower protein content, it is often used to make baked goods that have a tender crumb like cakes and pastries. You can also substitute cake flour in recipes when you’d like to try a lighter and sweeter option when making cookies and muffins. 

Bobs Red Mill Flour, White Pastry Unbleached, 5Pound

The following the most common baked goods made with cake flour:

  • Cake
  • Brownies
  • Pasties
  • Biscuits
  • Pie Crusts
  • (Some) Cookies

What Baked Goods Are Best Made With Bread Flour?

What Baked Goods Are Best Made With Baker’s Flour?

Bread flour and baker’s flour will create sturdier doughs and chewier outcomes. They yield themselves easily to recipes that call for rising. This makes them ideal for baking bread, and also a whole host of other goodies.

While you will want to avoid using bread flour for cakes, biscuits, and other delicate pastries, using bread flour for some desserts, such as chocolate chip cookies, may yield a result better than what you expected!

That’s because the gluten formed in cookies made with bread flour will produce a cookie that is deliciously chewy in texture. 

Be aware, however, that if you like cake-like and fluffy cookies, this won’t be the result when using bread flour. Instead, bread flour cookies will have a denser, firmer, flatter, and chewier texture. All of which some avid cookie-goers much prefer over others.

To each their own!

Here are a few other baked goods in which you’ll find baker’s or bread flour: 

  • Bread
  • Cinnamon Rolls
  • Pretzels
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Bagels
  • Sourdough Bread

What Is the Purpose of Gluten-Free Flour?

Gluten-free flour is flour that has been made from a variety of other grains and substances that aren’t gluten-containing. This means that when this flour is combined with water, gluten does not form. Thus it is a viable and much-desired option for those who deal with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivities. 

Know that though there are plenty of gluten-free bread recipes available for use with gluten-free flour recipes, most gluten-free flours aren’t directly interchangeable when making bread. This is because gluten-free flour lacks the gluten needed to produce a traditionally chewy bread outcome.

Some gluten-free bread, like Bob’s Mill 1:1 gluten-free mix, claim it can be used at a 1:1 ratio for most baked goods. But be advised that even this may not provide the texture and flavor you are looking for when trying to bake bread. 

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour - 25 lb - Bulk Bag

Which Flour Is Which? Protein Plays a Huge Part!

Remember that protein plays a huge role in how flour will react when combined with water to produce the outcome you are looking for. Though bread flour, baker’s flour, and cake flour may all seem the same, the truth is that these flours should not be swapped for the other. Doing so could greatly and negatively affect the results of what it is you are baking.

Still feeling uneasy about which flour to use? Don’t worry. Grab a bag of all-purpose flour to satisfy all your baking needs without having to spend money on multiple flour bags. You’ll hardly notice the difference!

Cheers! 

For more posts about flour, check out our blog:

Bakers Flour vs Bread Flour vs Plain Flour FAQs

Is bakers flour same as bread flour?

Yes, baker’s flour and bread flour are the same and can be swapped out for one another in any recipe. 

Can I substitute bakers flour for plain flour?

Whether or not you can sub out baker’s flour for regular (all-purpose) flour will depend on what you are baking. Because all-purpose flour can be used in nearly any baked good you will need to be careful when subbing it out for bread four, which cannot be used for any baked good when baking. Bread flour will yield heavier, chewier, and denser results, so you won’t want to swap all-purpose flour for bread flour when making a cake. This also goes for when attempting to make brownies, biscuits, and light pastries. You can, however, substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour when making bread, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, or pretzels. This will produce similar, and likely even better, results!

Can I use plain flour instead of bakers flour for bread?

You can use all-purpose flour instead of baker’s flour for bread. When doing so, it might produce a slightly less chewy result, but for some, this is desirable. For ultimate gluten-formation and chewy texture, we recommend sticking with baker’s or bread flour. However, if you don’t have any on hand, you can certainly use all-purpose flour in place of baker’s flour or bread flour without negatively compromising the results. 

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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