Flour is an essential for just about any baking endeavor. Everyone should be so lucky to have an early memory of a weekend morning, tiny hands covered in flour from the counter, begging mom to help with whatever goodness was being concocted in the kitchen that morning. Pancakes? Biscuits? Muffins? Who knows? Who cares. Just the act of baking itself was enough.
Putting together the usual boring ingredients, flour, eggs, milk… but then removing from the oven something glorious! Something more than the sum of its parts. Something delicious and magical.
There’s a reason every kitchen is kept constantly stocked with flour. I have a shelf dedicated just to flour in my pantry. Sad, I know.
The baking possibilities with flour are endless as it is such a versatile ingredient! Breads, cakes, muffins, pies, pancakes, crepes, fresh pasta, or pastries – sweet, savory, your pick – maybe even a roux for soup or creamy, delicious alfredo sauce. YUM.
Let’s go back to basics and what flour is greatly used for. Bread. There are few pleasures greater than tasting a simple, warm, perfectly baked loaf of bread fresh from your own oven. Agreed? But, if you’re only left with self rising flour, can you make bread with self rising flour? Let’s find out!
What type of flour is bread traditionally made with?
There are many types of flour you can use to make bread. Depending on the type of bread you would like to bake, these include all-purpose white flour, whole wheat flour, rye flour, cornflour, cake flour, strong bread flour, oat flour, and many more.
When it comes to picking the right flour for bread, generally speaking, the higher the gluten content of a flour, the better your bread will turn out. Gluten, if you don’t know already, is a protein found in grains, including wheat and rye, that gives bread its unique airy texture.
Gluten is what makes dough stretchy when you knead it, keeping it together and trapping air bubbles inside as it bakes. So the higher your flour’s gluten content, the airier and fluffier your bread will be. This is why gluten-free bread tends to be dense and crumbly.
Most bread recipes will ask for strong bread flour to be used, but self-rising is also quite a popular flour used in making bread. Plain or all-purpose flour has a gluten content of 8-11%. It’s mainly used for making cakes, pancakes, pastries and cookies.
You will still get a nice loaf of bread with all-purpose flour, but it might not be as light and airy. Strong flour is definitely the best flour to use for bread as it has a gluten content of about 12-14%.
Can you make bread with self rising flour?
What if you get a hankering for freshly baked homemade bread and the only flour you happen to have on hand is self rising flour? Although self rising flour isn’t perfectly suited for every bread recipe, you can bake bread with self rising flour.
All self rising flour is, is plain white flour mixed with baking powder. By reducing the amount of baking powder you add to the recipe, you can use self rising flour in all sorts of baked goods that call for plain flour.
It is, however, important to note that self rising flours tend to have a slightly lower gluten content than plain or bread flour, so it’s not suited to use in recipes requiring a flour with high gluten content. Therefore, it’s not an ideal flour for making bread. Bread with self rising flour will result in a very crumbly, dense loaf with little height.
Do you still need yeast when using self rising flour?
The main ingredients in any basic bread recipe are flour, water, sugar, oil or shortening, with the most important ingredient being yeast. Yeast is what makes the dough rise.
During the fermentation process, which is an integral part of making bread, yeast converts the starches and sugar in the flour into carbon dioxide, making the dough rise by creating little air bubbles that expand in the bread. This is what gives bread it’s airy, chewy and soft texture.
Self rising flour already has a raising agent in it – baking powder. Baking powder doesn’t work well together with yeast. For best results, you should opt for either baking powder or yeast to raise your dough, not both.
When self rising flour is used together with yeast, the bread won’t rise evenly and might collapse. Using both raising agents when making bread can result with a dense, misshapen, unevenly baked bread, which – yuck! – way to ruin a loaf!
The Bottom Line…
So, in light of all this, self rising flour is definitely better suited for making cakes rather than bread. To get great quality, bakery standard bread, you need the best quality strong flour with a high gluten content.
Having said that though, that’s not to say you still can’t make bread with self rising flour. You can use self rising flour for non-yeasted dough. It is great for making quick naan bread and soda bread.
Since these types of breads don’t require yeast, self rising flour gives them a great rise. These types of breads can be quite tasty too – give it a go! If you’re kitchen-savvy, or even simply curious, a little experimentation can take you far and allow you to enjoy new, delicious types of bread.
So, if you want to make the best loaf of bread, then get yourself down to the grocery store and stock up on strong bread flour!