All-purpose, baking, bread, self-rising, gluten-free, spelled, rye, pumpernickel, and whole wheat are among the many flour options available for purchase. While using new flours is a great way to experiment, your bread recipe may need to be adjusted to accommodate your choices.
If you’re not sure where to start, bread flour is a good place. Bob’s Red Mill explains how it differs from all-purpose, noting that the protein content is more important (12% to 14% versus 10% to 12%, according to Food Network). This allows the dough to grow in height instead of spreading out. If your bread is consistently dense and falling apart, protein levels may be to blame; look for a minimum of 10%, per Foodsguy. You can usually find the value on the package or use the nutrition label information to calculate the amount of protein.
Meanwhile, Bob’s Red Mill notes that higher protein levels in bread flour means more gluten, which equates to greater elasticity — exactly what you’re looking for to create pleasantly elastic bread dough. Alternative flours vary in both protein and gluten, so make sure you know what you’re working with. Experimenting with different types of flour can yield delicious results, but to be successful, it’s best to use a recipe made with the specific flour in mind. Measurements and baking times may vary, so avoid simply substituting flours without considering the bigger picture.