Does Bleached Vs Unbleached Flour Matter?

Decorating By Mae1118 Updated 24 Apr 2008 , 3:30pm by Ironbaker

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Mae1118 Posted 14 Apr 2008 , 2:38pm
post #1 of 10

Does anyone know if it makes any difference if you use bleached or unbleached flour in cake recipes? I have always used unbleached because I figured it was less processed and had less chemicals, and I preferred the idea of this. However, I have been having trouble with my scratch cakes being dense and dry with the outside very tough, and I just read in a Good Housekeeping cookbook that unbleached flour can make cakes heavy. When I searched around on the internet, I found conflicting arguments, some for one or the other, and some saying that it doesn't matter. I have a feeling that my problem might be that I am overbaking because I am so afraid of my cakes being underdone, but I wanted to explore some other solutions. Thanks![/i]

9 replies
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KathysCC Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 2:50am
post #2 of 10

I always use unbleached flour and never have a problem. Overbaking could probably be your problem. I, too, am afraid of uncooked cake but I have learned that a cake is done much sooner than I thought. Cut your baking time by 5 minutes; see what happens. Then, the next time cut it again by 5 more minutes. You will be surprised how much time you can cut off your baking time and still have a cooked cake. Also, since I switched to the White Almond Sourcream Cake recipe that I found here on CC which calls for a lower baking temperature, my cakes are so moist.

I just don't think unbleached flour makes that much difference. You could buy a bag of bleached flour and experiment yourself. That might help.

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Mae1118 Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 1:47pm
post #3 of 10

Kathy, thank you for the input. I suspect you are probably right about me overbaking my cakes. The last cake I tried is a 1-2-3-4 cake that many have reported to be very moist, although mine was definitely not. I will try your suggestions.

I am still curious though, if anyone else has heard about the flour thing. I have also always thought that it would make no difference in a recipe, but I was surprised by what I read in my cookbook.

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HerBoudoir Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 2:13pm
post #4 of 10

I was curious about this too, so I hit my personal library and pulled out some of the heavy hitters:

The Cake Bible
Baking, Dorie Greenspan
The Professional Pastry Chef, Bo Friberg
Baking at Home, CIA
Cakes, Maida Heatter
Baking with Julia

Just about no info there, until Julia. We do love Julia. While there's not a lot of info, she does say that unbleached flour is higher in protein than bleached flour.

In general (if I'm not mistaken), more protein in the flour means more gluten development, which will make a cake tougher and denser. I know cake flour is bleached and is very low in protein ~ hence a lighter, more tender cake when you use it.

So I think that's basically the difference. I think how much it affects what you're making will depend on how sensitive the recipe itself is. I know some are VERY sensitive to any change in chemistry, and other recipes you can really mess around with and they'll still come out.

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Ironbaker Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 2:56pm
post #5 of 10

Yes, I have heard of this and I'm racking my brain to remember where I read it...drawing a blank...

It gave the breakdown of each type of flour and basically it is what the previous poster stated - unbleached has more gluten/protein then bleached flour.

Cake flour has much less gluten, that's why it will produce a lighter, softer crumb. I use this whenever I can when baking cakes.

Wait, here's something to read:

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kelleym Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 4:20pm
post #6 of 10

Bleached vs. unbleached, cake flour vs. All Purpose flour DOES make a difference, because baking is a science. Here's what Alton Brown has to say, courtesy of The Good Eats Fan Page (recommended reading/viewing for all bakers):


AB: So, what's with cake flour?
SC: In the first place, cake flour is made from soft winter wheat and this means 8 grams of protein per cup instead of 10 to 12 grams of protein in all purpose. Less protein, less gluten ...
AB: ... gluten the more tender the cake.
SC: Absolutely.
AB: What else? What else?
SC: More starch to swell and stabilize the cake. Plus this is finely ground and this is going to make it blend easier and going to give you a much finer texture.
AB: Well, that's enough for me, Shirley. Gotta get ...
SC: Cake flour is chlorinated ...
AB: So ...
SC: That makes it acidic which makes the protein set faster. Again, a smoother, finer texture. And chlorination does something to the surface of the starch. It makes it soak in liquid faster and it also makes the fats stick to it and that's where the air bubbles are.
AB: [sighs] Shirley, would you mind leading me up to the checkout?
SC: Sure. Why?
AB: Because once again you've blinded me with science.


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KathysCC Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 5:01pm
post #7 of 10

Wow, very informative. Thanks for that link ironbaker. I was really surprised about what I DON'T know about flour icon_biggrin.gif I think I'm going to get some cake flour now! icon_smile.gif

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Mae1118 Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 5:51pm
post #8 of 10

I agree - Wow! Thank you all for the useful info. I still think I am overbaking, but I think I will now consider the type of flour I am using as well. Thanks again. You guys have been a great resource!

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AJsGirl Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 6:06pm
post #9 of 10

WOW! Thanks guys! I am starting to experiment with scratch, and ALWAYS wondered why my cakes came out so dense and heavy (and not in a good way!). I was using unbleached AP. I think I'll switch to cake flour. I love this site! icon_biggrin.gif

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Ironbaker Posted 24 Apr 2008 , 3:30pm
post #10 of 10

You're welcome!

I think I have a crush on Alton Brown.

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