The major ingredient in bread making is flour, so selecting the right one is the key to a successful loaf.
Wheat flours make the best loaves. Wheat consists of an outer husk, often referred to as bran, and as an
inner kernel, which contains the wheat germ and endosperm which, when mixed with the water, forms
gluten. Gluten stretches like elastic and the gases given off by the yeast during fermentation are trapped,
making the dough rise.
These flours have the outer bran and wheat germ removed, leaving the endosperm which is milled into a
white flour. It is essential to use strong white flour or white bread flour, because this has a higher protein
level, necessary for gluten development. Do not use plain white flour or self-raising flour for making
yeast risen breads in your bread maker, as inferior loaves will be produced. There are several brands of
white bread flour available, use a good quality one, preferably unbleached, for the best results.
Wholemeal flours include the bran and wheat germ, which gives the flour a nutty flavour and produces
a coarser textured bread. Again strong wholemeal or wholemeal bread flour must be used. Loaves made
with 100% wholemeal flour will be more dense than white loaves. The bran present in the flour inhibits
the release of gluten, so wholemeal doughs rise more slowly. Use the special whole wheat programs to
allow time for the bread to rise. For a lighter loaf, replace part of the wholemeal flour with white bread
flour. You can make a quick wholemeal loaf using the rapid whole wheat setting.
Strong brown flour
This can be used in combination with white flour, or on its own. It contains about 80-90% of the wheat
kernel and so it produces a lighter loaf, which is still full of flavour. Try using this flour on the basic
white cycle, replacing 50% of the strong white flour with strong brown flour. You may need to add a
little extra liquid.
Granary bread flour
A combination of white, wholemeal and rye flours mixed with malted whole wheat grains, which adds
both texture and flavour. Use on its own or in combination with strong white flour.
Other flours such as rye can be used with white and wholemeal flours to make traditional breads like
pumpernickel or rye bread. Adding even a small amount adds a distinctive tang. Do not use on its own,
as it will produce a sticky dough, which will produce a dense heavy loaf. Other grains such as millet,
barley, buckwheat, corn meal and oatmeal are low in protein and therefore do not develop sufficient
gluten to produce a traditional loaf.
These flours can be used successfully in small quantities. Try replacing 10-20% of white bread flour with
any of these alternatives.