Bleached Flour vs. Whole-Wheat Flour
The debate over bleached flour vs. whole-wheat flour for pizza is highly contended by those passionate about characteristics that make a better pizza crust.
We have uncovered the truth about these two and present a clear and defined reason why one is better for making pizza dough.
If you’re new to making pizza dough or have some experience using specific flour brands, you might think twice about using bleached flour -ever again…
Let’s see why.
Here’s What You Will Find:
What is Bleached Flour?
Bleached flour starts with separating the endosperm portion of the whole wheat grain, which is the upper portion of the wheat berry, and the remainder they remove is the bran and germ.
During this process, the milling company removes the endosperm, which is milled and ground into a fine powder that creates white flour.
It’s not very good for pizza making because it lacks natural vitamins and minerals and something more critical for making pizza dough.
Bleached flour lacks the right amount of gluten recommended for pizza dough. On average, bleached flour contains 8 to 11 percent gluten compared to whole wheat, which contains 12 to 15 percent gluten.
This is why all-purpose flour is typically good for making softer dough formulations rather than hearty, bread-based recipes like pizza dough.
Bleached flour isn’t the best choice for pizza dough due to the low levels of gluten.
Bleached Flour Categories:
Today, the process for bleached flour, also called white flour, falls into two separate categories.
Enriched white flour goes through the same process where only the endosperm of the wheat grain is milled. After the flour is milled, vitamins and minerals are added to balance what’s missing.
The flour is then treated through various chemical processes (depending on the flour producer) that make this yellow-colored flour completely turn white. The typical method is by removing the yellow pigment in flour called Xanthophyll.
Modern technology typically uses chlorine, chlorine dioxide, bromides, organic and calcium peroxides, Azodicarbonamide, nitrogen dioxide, and exposure to atmospheric oxygen levels.
Peroxides, bromates, and chlorine have been strictly outlawed in the EU because they present evident diabetes and cancer risks.
Bleached flour is still readily available in the USA, Canada, and many other parts of the world.
One of the most sinister methods is chlorine which can produce Alloxan. As a result, as much as 5-15 grams per 100 grams of bleached flour is contaminated.
There is an unintended residue produced through the chemical reaction to chlorine.
Those who wish to enrich their flour with additives added in liquid form choose this type of flour. It is the same bleached flour sold without added vitamins or minerals.
Between the enriched and un-enriched flour, each flour variant has virtually the same taste otherwise. Some bakers prefer to add additives when making pizza or bread dough.
Un-enriched flour is not a wrong choice for making pizza dough if you add a flour wafer to the dough mixture. These wafers contain 12% of the gluten missing from un-enriched white flour.
You can add it to the water used for hydrating the rest of your white flour and help restore what’s missing so you can have better gluten formation.
What is Whole Wheat Flour?
Whole wheat flour is an exciting combination of wheat germ and wheat berry.
The wheat germ itself contains specialized fatty oils called “Germ Oil.” Rich yellow flour creates refined gluten for pizza and bread dough when these oils are milled to create whole wheat flour.
You probably didn’t know this, but these fatty acids within germ oil can go rancid; using whole wheat flour is subject to going bad.
This is why it’s not uncommon for many pizza makers to place their whole wheat flour into the walk-in refrigerator to keep it cool.
We recommend using your whole wheat flour within one month after buying it to ensure the freshness stays intact for extended periods.
If you have a dedicated freezer, it can be sealed in vacuum-sealed bags and kept for even longer until it’s needed. If you’re living in Alaska, you probably don’t need to do this…
An exciting aspect of whole wheat flour is that flour gone rancid is still safe to eat.
What happens is that the rancidity bakes off when you cook your pizza. The smell isn’t noticed and doesn’t affect the taste when piping fresh from the oven.
And since most of us aren’t eating stale pizza, it usually takes 3-4 days before you can smell this in leftover pizza.
You’re better off buying fresh whole wheat flour to avoid these problems altogether.
Always check the milling dates on your flour so you aren’t buying old whole wheat flour that’s been in storage for too long.
Bleached flour vs whole wheat flour for pizza dough does have an advantage for storage reasons. Which is a benefit for most households that like having flour on hand that isn’t going bad quickly.
How does Bleached Flour Compare to Whole Wheat Flour?
Bleached Flour vs. Whole-Wheat Flour
The first portion of wheat removed is the endosperm used to make bleached flour.
The remaining germ and bran containing all the nutrients are then substituted with added vitamins and minerals (or not), depending on whether you buy refined or unrefined bleached flour.
The result is much more shelf-stable flour than whole wheat flour for extended periods.
Another big difference between bleached flour and whole wheat flour is the absorption rate of hydration. Whole wheat flour will absorb more than bleached flour does but takes longer to hydrate the amount of water you add.
Hydrated whole wheat flour is a lot stickier than white flour. Which is a big surprise if you aren’t used to dealing with this kind of dough, and it can be frustrating to knead properly.
White flour is better for chewier crusts, while whole wheat is better suited for crunchier crusts.
As a rule, bleached flour rises faster than the entire grain. This difference is the production of gluten that changes the dough’s internal cell structure.
Bleached flour hydrates faster than whole wheat and uses less to form dough in a short time. This is why white flour and all-purpose flour are often a favorite for pizza makers.
Can You Use Bleached Flour Instead of Whole Wheat (or vice-versa) for Pizza?
Here is where we can let you know that you can use either type of flour for making pizza dough.
Depending on the recipe that you’re making, you might want to stick with whole wheat flour if you wish to have a crispy crust pizza.
In many cases, you can swap up to 25% of your bleached flour for whole wheat when starting to use any whole wheat dough.
Perfect for brick oven baking and is why Italian pizza is baked in a wood-fired oven.
The combination and mixing of flour also give you better control of the rise of your dough. This can give you a surprising crunch and chewiness that is hard to master if you start with only white flour varieties.
You might also consider using white whole wheat, which is not the same as bleached flour. White whole wheat adds more flavor than bleached flour because of the strain of lighter wheat harvested.
Here’s What the PROs at Homemade Pizza Pro Use and Recommend
This is the flour you can rely on for exceptional results every time, and you can feel good about: Organically grown and milled to the strictest specifications in the industry.
- Made from 100% American-grown wheat
- The choice of professional bakers
- The home baker's best friend
- Never bleached, never bromated
What is the Best Flour for Pizza Dough between Bleached Flour vs Whole-Wheat Flour?
Since pizza dough goes through a hydration and proofing process, the gluten formation will all have different textures.
We recommend you experiment with the same recipe and recreate the same dough using as many whole wheat and bleached flour versions to get the best results. To learn more, check out our article on the best pizza flour.
Which is the best way to create pizza dough that you prefer according to your love for thinner crispy crusts or chewier textures, which is then up to you.
It takes practice to master making pizza dough, so the obvious choice is bleached flour if you’re just starting.
To avoid the bleaching process, you should strongly consider using white wheat flour instead.
This flour is unprocessed and hasn’t been exposed to chemical bleaching methods. If you’re concerned about bleaching methods, the safest bleached flour appears to use Benzoyl Peroxide.
If you live in Europe, you can’t find bleached flour, so the next best option is white whole wheat flour.
The Last Slice
While there is little to support any claims that bleached flour is unsafe, it has the approval of the FDA, and there haven’t been enough studies done showing how safe or unsafe it might be.
The truth is that bleached flour has most of the vitamins and minerals missing, which need to be added by artificial means.
Whole wheat flour already has these vitamins and minerals and is undoubtedly a healthier choice for you and your family.
Likely, bleached flour vs whole wheat flour for pizza dough will always be a preference no matter what color the flour is.
If you’re health-conscious or want to ensure you get all the natural benefits of flour, it’s better to choose whole wheat flour.
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