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I decided to try out my mother-in-law’s bread machine today. I’ver never used a bread machine before, and the loaf (challah, if you’d like to know) isn’t even a third of the way done, and I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. But it’s already a success to me, because I’ve just discovered something very interesting to me as a Canadian baker (sorry to my American buddies, this probably isn’t at all useful to you, unless you feel like importing Canadian flour). In the past year or so I’ve been experimenting with flour types, buying bread flour instead of all-purpose because it’s what my bread books advise.

In preparation for baking a bread machine loaf, I pulled up the Black & Decker bread machine manual and discovered that they provide different recipes for Americans and Canadians. Why? As it turns out, I didn’t need to be using bread flour all this time! All-purpose flour is a blend of hard wheat, which has more protein (gluten), and soft wheat, which has less. Canadian wheat is harder in general, and the blend leans more toward hard flour, so Canadians can generally use all-purpose flour for any bread recipe, as the protein content is about equal to American bread flour.

I’m not exactly sure what bearing this has on my cake/cookie/pastry baking, but I’ve never had too much trouble all-purposing those either. Maybe we ought to start experimenting with cake flour? Does anyone outside of North America have any ideas about flours elsewhere? How about Americans? Do you use bread flour or all-purpose flour for your baking? Have you noticed any differences?

Here’s an interesting explanation of the Canadian/American flour thing.

ps. Hi everyone! We’re back! (and obviously can’t resist a bit of metablogging in nearly every post)