How To Make Bread Flour from All Purpose Flour {and why I didn’t}

DIY Baking Hacks

The last few weeks or so I’ve been thinking about dusting off my old bread making machine and putting it to use again. I tend to go in spurts when it comes to kitchen machinery. I’ll spend a few months using something all the time (whether it be my juicer, or blender, or Magic Bullet, or what have you), and then I just seem to fall out of the habit.

But then a few months later I’ll pull one of my gadgets back out of the cupboard and it’s like having something new all over again. Sort of like an unexpected Christmas!  I guess I’m like a kid that way. I have to keep rotating my toys to keep them interesting. Next thing you know I’ll just be playing with the box it came in. 🙂

How to make bread flour from all purpose flour (and why I didn't)

So currently it’s my sturdy old bread machine that I’ve had for many years that’s come back on my radar. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve used it and lots of questions started popping up.

Where are my bread machine recipes?
Was I just using the recipes that came in the instruction manual?
Umm, where’s that stupid little instruction manual anyway?
Do you suppose those recipes would turn out better if I used bread flour?
Does my grocery store stock bread flour?

And then of course . . . the question that ALWAYS seems to pop into my head . . .

Hey, can I make my own bread flour ??

How to make bread flour from all purpose flour

The DIY Hack To Make Your Own Bread Flour

Some time ago I realized there was a simple solution to make your own self rising flour. It was just a matter of adding some baking powder and salt to your all purpose flour. So I had a hunch there might be some sort of quick answer to the question of how to make bread flour from all purpose flour too. And I was right – there is! Here’s the magic formula:

{{   For every 1 cup of All Purpose Flour add 1 teaspoon of Vital Wheat Gluten }}

Umm, OK. But what is that weird ingredient up there? Vital Wheat Gluten? Never heard of it. Can you find that at a grocery store? How much does it cost? Am I going to have to run all over creation looking for this? Maybe just order it online? Ugh, more questions.

The Difference Between Bread Flour and All Purpose Flour

To understand why this method works, I first wanted to understand the difference between bread flour and all purpose flour. Bread flour is made from wheat with a higher protein content, thus enabling better formation of gluten. With a little more gluten the bread dough will have more elasticity and the crumb can hold together better. This post on the King Arthur Flour blog has some comparison pictures of breads cooked with both types of flour and there’s not a huge difference, but some cooks swear that bread flour really does make for a better loaf of bread.

How to make bread flour from all purpose flour

So if we want to achieve the same thing with our all all purpose flour, we need to raise the protein level, so we can raise the gluten level, and we do that by adding a little bit of Vital Wheat Gluten.

I Found It, But I Didn’t Buy It

I was all set to give this homemade way to make bread flour a try and went off to my local grocery store (Meijer) to see what I could find. Sure enough, Vital Wheat Gluten was right there on the shelf in the baking aisle by flour, baking soda, baking powder, etc. That was a nice surprise! There was no need for a special trip to an expensive health food store or to pay shipping to order it online. The Vital Wheat Gluten was on sale for $5.99 (normally $6.79) for a 22 oz package.

How to turn all purpose flour into bread flour

Now, I was really hoping for some kind of tiny package that only cost a buck or two. Maybe something like those little packets of yeast. After all, I was only going to need a few teaspoons. The 22 oz package looked like it probably had enough in it for 100 teaspoons.

If I was baking bread every day for a big family, well then it would probably make sense. But for an occasional play time with the bread machine? It didn’t seem like the right solution.

How to make bread flour from all purpose flour

Then I wandered a little farther down the aisle and looked at the bread flour that was for sale. It was $2.89 for a 5 Lb bag. That seemed like a more practical answer for someone like me who just wants to bake the occasional loaf of bread. I set the Vital Wheat Gluten back down on the shelf and went away without buying it.

What’s Your Situation?

I do think this quick homemade method of adding a teaspoon of Vital Wheat Gluten to your cup of all purpose flour has some merit and could still be a good trick to have up your sleeve. But I don’t think it’s the right solution for everyone (like me). It’s probably the most useful if you bake a lot of bread, are somewhat particular about your finished loaves of bread and/or you can find Vital Wheat Gluten for sale in a smaller quantity or could perhaps share it with a friend who also likes to bake bread.

For me, if the occasional mood strikes to experiment with my bread machine and I want to give some bread flour a spin, I’ll just pay the $2.89 and buy myself a bag of bread flour. That feels like the best solution for me.

How about you? Do you think bread flour makes a difference? Would you pay the price to buy some Vital Wheat Gluten? I’m always curious to hear what others think and love your comments!

How to make bread flour from all purpose flour

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61 Comments

  1. How would I use bread flour to make homemade biscuits? Would I need to make the bread flour into self rising?

  2. What you say makes sense. I think I would buy regular bread flour than wheat germ because of the price, I make a lot of bread to give as gifts and I have always used Bread Flour. However now I want to make just one loaf for someone and I am a half a cup short on bread flour. I can’t run to town in the morning as I have a delivery coming. So I am going to wing it and use regular flour to make the bread. I will let you know how it does!

  3. I found vital wheat gluten in the spice and herb section in Walmart ( the only grocery here ) in a 5 oz bottle. It was 2.29. This is produced by Red Star. I don’t make much bread so this works great for me.

  4. I think the price of bread flour has gone up but I agree it’s easier to use than adding wheat gluten to AP flour. I also have no other need or use for wheat gluten in my pantry. Buying bread flour in bulk form is very economical. Maybe even buying it online if you can avoid shipping costs.

  5. Now, the real challenge I am curious about…how to make gluten free bread for my son who is gluten intolerant. I have tried several recipes like are pictured on Pinterest and they always collapse from the top. They taste very good, says my son, but they look terrible..I was used to beautiful loaves, very rounded. Does anyone have a suggestion how to keep this from happening? I can’t handle this ‘failed” look. Bought a Wolfgang Puck bread machine for the gluten free bread setting, but the same thing resulted. It came from Goodwill so didn’t break the bank…gave it to my son so I hope they can figure it out…the rounded bread top I mean…the machine is with a book and self explanatory.

  6. A bakery in Duvall, WA, has printed on their little customer bags, “Make bread, not war”. I love it!!
    Certainly enjoyed reading responses from all fellow bread makers.

  7. I, too, am dusting off my bread machine. Our flours seem to have changed in the years since I stopped making bread. I am a whole wheat lover for my bread. I savor the taste of the wheat with creamy butter, even cold. Recently I bought a bag of Kroger Whole Wheat Milled Flour BUT above the whole wheat worded label there was the word “WHITE”…now I’m really confused! I buy store labels as a saver and they seemed to be out of whole wheat by any other name brand. Some purchasers had been buying up supplies and they were low. I cannot get a decent loaf of whole wheat bread from this flour. It is much lighter than ww. I researched it online and find that wheat comes in different seasons, light, dark, etc. I am disappointed that I can’t get my good taste from this flour. I won’t try anything like it again. I don’t care how much it costs, as opposed to King Arthur, Bob’s Red Mill, I will pay their price. Back to your question. I think I will try the regular ww and then I can have a better opinion. Sorry for the long ti

    1. I regularly use Gold Medal Whole Wheat flour and it works very well. I often use half white bread flour and half whole wheat flour in a bread recipe as it produces a lighter textured loaf with all the goodness of whole wheat flavor. If I use all whole wheat flour in my bread recipe I add an extra half teaspoon of yeast to prevent the loaf from being too dense.

  8. I enjoyed your article. I will probably do the same as you, and buy a bag of bread flour. I love my machine, but also make bread by hand as often as possible. It never comes out the same… never! That is the real mystery. Now I experiment as well, because … well… why not…? Bread… and life… equals the Lord… Jesus.

    Have the very best day. God Bless!

  9. If I didn’t already have some on the shelf and I was in the store anyway, I would do what you did. On the other hand I always have AP flour at the house, so having some gluten allows me to make bread flour when I need it. I find that whether its pizza dough, sourdough or active yeast breads, the vital wheat gluten helps to produce structure and “bite”.

  10. Very interesting. Unable to find bread flour in any of our 3 grocery stores since Covid-19. Everyone is baking and cooking like never before. I did not know you could make your own b f. I believe Ridley’s sell small bags of Bob’s Red Mill products. Received an unused bread machine from a friend who received it from her daughter for Christmas about 3 years ago. Was going to the thrift store if I didn’t take it. I’ll experiment..another friend says I’ll be baking bread often. Thanks for the info.

  11. I’ve been considering the role of bread flour and vital wheat gluten, and how people do who don’t use them, make bread.

    That line of thought has taken me to gluten-free, vegan, and paleo bread recipes. I’ve also fallen into a few internet rabbit holes going back to times when wheat was scares. Thinking of world wars, great depression, early settlers, aboriginal cultres, etc., what was their idea of “bread”?

    I have made my own gluten by washing all-purpose flour. It’s often found by searching for; seitan, mock-meat, or wheat-meat. I was thinking I could partially “wash” AP flour, to get the protein % higher, but I have no idea how I could reproduce my experiment. Oh, and the starchy wash water is a type of “white wash” like when they white-washed fences and such.

    Currently, I’m looking at protein isolates, xanthan gum, and cassava flour, but I’ve only scratched the surface of options.

    I thought this might be helpful to Make Your Own type people. I’m really enjoying this site!
    Peace!

  12. In Australia it is called Bread Inprover.
    I use it all the time as I Bake bread at least 2 times a week. It does what it is called, improves the bread over using just All-purpose Flour. I also don’t use a Bread Machine as I like to use my hands to handle the Dough.

  13. Like you I was quite happy with strong bread flour for my bread machine, and during lockdown got through a 16 kilo bag of it. Then I needed some plain and some self raising flour,so asked hubby to order me a 16 kilo bag of each,ready for a 2nd lock down!!! When it arrived,it was two lots of plain!!! Cakes are no trouble as can add bicarb,baking powder etc,but was running low on bread flour so did a googled recipe with just plain flour. Wasnt too bad but not as good. Then I read about vital wheat gluten and am trying it out today!!! Fingers crossed x

  14. I was glad to read this today as our store was out of bread flour and I happened to have vital wheat gluten in the cupboard. Thanks for the info.

  15. My bread machine says use bread flour so I have always done that. I make most of my own bread, but there’s just me, too. I wouldn’t buy that vital wheat gluten.

  16. Here’s the thing; I want organic flour. Organic bread flour is both hard to find and very expensive if you do find it. The wheat gluten makes sense for making my cheap organic all purpose flour into (mostly) organic bread flour. I’m sure the wheat gluten is not organic but it’s a very small part of the overall flour.

    1. Another thing to consider is to look in the bulk section of a natural foods store. Our Co-op has vital wheat gluten in bulk. That way I can get as little or as much as I need without committing to lbs at a time.

  17. I’m with you. I brought my bread machine out again am I am enjoying making bread. I much prefer using bread flour, but with this virus going on, the shelves are bare, and you guessed it. No bread flour. I have plenty of all purpose flour that the grocery store substituted for bread flour at the pick-up-and-go. So, I started looking for a way to use it instead. Well, no gluten, either. But, thanks for the recipe. I’ll check with the health food store. I hope stores will soon be able to get all of these items that we are now having to do without. In the meantime, we’ll just have to use our ingenuity, patience, and determination to be able to do the things we love to do.

  18. Well right now in pandemic situation, I cannot find bread flour at all so for me that would be perfect; but Amazon is also out of Vital Gluten and I make all our bread all the time for my husband; plus, it avoid having to carry two types of flour at home. Oh well, I will keep looking and for the time being, I use all purpose flour instead, the bread are still OK, they just do not rise as much. Thanks for the formula!

  19. I’m having the same problem. I guess we’ll see what happens when I make mine with regular all purpose flour. I do have new yeast so hopefully that will help.

  20. Thank you for sharing your re-search,I haven’t been able to find bread flour at any of the markets but I do have a bag of AP flour and a bag of VWG. I knew there was a formula but wasn’t aware of what it was. Thanks again

  21. Normally I’d agree with you. I just buy the bread flour but right now with this virus there isn’t anything left on the shelf! And I’m not certain I have any regular flour!! Have to wait for the hubby to get home to see if he has hidden it out in storage in the garage!!

  22. I was asking because I am unable to find white bread flour ANY PLACE. I PREFER and have ALWAYS used bread flour but unable to fine (even on line).

  23. In some stores like Winco you can buy gluten in the bulk section so you can get a much smaller amount. Also you could go in on it with friends and split up the cost and the gluten. Of course hubby and I make our own bread, pizza crusts and English muffins and will be trying bagels this winter. I can not handle the preservatives they put in store bought bread products, my hands swell.

  24. I buy my wheat gluten at our bulk store so I can get only what I need. I make all our bread and bread flour makes better dough, great to be able to make my own.

  25. I had to pay $5.99 for bread flour at Kroger,they only had one brand, will be buying vital wheat gluten now, it has a very long shelf life, and I love to bake my own breadsticks, pizza crust, and bread.

  26. I think for us, this will be something we will do. I can buy all purpose flour for cheaper than bread flour, but we prefer the texture of breaded flour over all purpose for breads. We are a family of 5 and consume about a loaf per day, so I am always baking bread. And buying bread flour. ?

  27. In my country (Uruguay) I haven’t found bread flour commercially. Probably there’s a market for bakery’s, but not for general public. So fortunately I found packages of 200g of Gluten, so I bought it. Realy anxious to give it a try.

  28. I use VWG to make seitan so I always have some lying around. I use all-purpose flour for many things, and at my shop, the all-purpose stuff is just over half the price of the bread flour, which I only use for bread… So for my situation, converting all-purpose to bread works out way better! =) Thanks for sharing this tip!

    1. I did some quick research on this and unfortunately decided there’s not a real clear answer to be found on the internet for this question. You may find it’s best to contact them directly and ask this question.

  29. For myself, my house is spatially challenged, so it makes more sense to have a small bag of Vital Wheat Gluten around in the freezer instead of a bag of bread flour in addition to a big bag of regular flour. It’s more convenient. If I want to make some bread, I just grab the VWG and add some to the flour. I like the density the bread flour creates.

  30. With 3 diabetics in the house, I use a lot of whole grain flours. 100% Whole wheat, white whole wheat and whole grain rye etc. For pizza crust I use white whole wheat flour and always add 2 tablespoons of vital wheat gluten into the bread machine with the flour. Makes excellent pizza dough. With whole grain flours vital wheat gluten makes for a lighter less dense dough so I use it a lot, once a week alone for pizza.

  31. I belong to the pantry in bay saint louis ,ms. which I get free al-purpose flour, but I need bread(for sandwhiches). That is why seasoned you about the converson from one flour to the other. I propably have 20 2pd. bags….need help. …james

    1. A Google search says there are about 6-2/3 cups of flour in a 2 pound bag of flour. So I would add 2 tablespoons of the vital wheat gluten to each two pound bag.

  32. Thanks for the tips. I’m planning to make pizza dough today, so will pass on buying wheat gluten and just buy the bread flour

  33. If you like to make (mostly) whole wheat bread, or any other whole grain such as oat or rye, vital wheat gluten vastly improves the texture of the loaf as these grains are low in gluten. It makes the difference between light and airy and dense and gummy. It makes for a nice whole-grain loaf without having to cut it with bread flour. A bit added to regular bread flour doesn’t hurt either, but of course, it’s not required.

  34. I agree with you! Am going to the store to get bread flour! Have already had to buy powdered milk, that I don’t usually use, to have 2 Tbl for my bread machine basic recipe. It cost close to $5.00!

    1. Yes, it always helps to do the math to make sure we are making the decisions that are the most economical for our situations!

  35. Several years ago, my (now late) husband and I were doing the low carb thing, This is when I was introduced to vital wheat gluten I found it in the bulk food section of my local Sprout’s . I was able to buy a small amount for what I needed. I think if you use all purpose flour most, having the vital wheat gluten in an air tight container for the occasional use would be better then having a 5 lb bag of bread flour taking up space, if you don’t use it very often. 🙂

    1. Thanks Dee – Maybe I need to check out more stores to find some Vital Wheat Gluten in bulk. Maybe then I can get it in a size that is practical for me!

  36. I bought a small bag at an Amish market several years ago to use in a bread recipe. I put it in the freezer, wandering what to do with it. I buy a lot of bread flour, so I’ll use your recipe, putting it into the cheaper regular flour. Thanks!

  37. Ah! This is awesome for me to know as I actually bought one of those big bags of gluten for a specific recipe and didn’t know what to do with the rest of it. Now I know to just add a teaspoon to regular flour when I make breads to use it up. Thanks!

  38. My question would be, is there any other use for the gluten? Otherwise, you solution is better. Thanks for keeping us informed!