Bleached vs Unbleached Flour
Flour. Without it, this blog pretty much wouldn’t even exist. I often get the question, “why does your recipe call for unbleached flour?” It all comes down to a personal preference. I personally use unbleached flour since chlorine or benzoyl peroxide haven’t been used to produce a stark white color like in bleached flour. Unbleached flour also contains more Vitamin E. Chemical agents, which aren’t even allowed in the EU help expedite the aging process in bleached flour but it also strips it of vitamins and minerals.
Since unbleached flour has been aged naturally, it takes a bit longer to produce and therefore a bit more expensive. I highly recommend the unbleached and unbromated King Arthur’s brand but Trader Joe’s has a really affordable unbleached flour and I also find that the bulk bins at my local natural food markets carry a variety of organic flours from whole wheat to spelt or gluten free.
Unbleached flour has a higher protein content so if you’re baking a cake, they even make unbleached pastry or cake flour as well. The finer grain of bleached flour and denser grain of unbleached flour produces slight variations in the finished product but honestly, it’s not something I’ve ever really noticed myself.
It used to be that all flour was just left unbleached, traditionally aged for about 12 weeks or so to also allow the gluten and proteins to develop. Today, the bleaching process can cut that time down to a couple of days or less. Along with the chlorine and peroxide I mentioned, the bleaching process can also include calcium peroxide, nitrogen dioxide, chlorine dioxide and azodicarbonamide. Additionally, alloxan can become a byproduct of this bleaching process which has been shown to have detrimental effects.
For me at the end of the day, I don’t find unbleached flour to be that much more crazy expensive and it’s always performed well for me from bread to pastry and béchamel or curd. The way I see it, it’s not like white flour is the best for me anyways so when I consume anything that is such, I always try and make sure it’s the best quality I can get my hands on.