Can You Use Bleached Flour for Sourdough Starter? A Walkthrough to What You Need to Know

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Can You Use Bleached Flour for Sourdough Starter?

Are you wondering if you can use bleached flour for sourdough starters? Have you tried using a starter for pizza dough?

No sought, a sourdough starter can increase the quality of any home-baked good. 

Bleached flour can be suitable for a starter depending on the time, resources, and specific needs. 

While you can use bleached flour for creating a sourdough starter, there are specific reasons why it is better to use unbleached flour.

Let’s go over them!

What is Bleached Flour?

Bleached flour is refined, which means that the wheat kernel’s nutrient-rich bran and germ have been removed, depriving the grain of many of its vital vitamins and minerals and leaving just the endosperm.

Then, it is treated with chemical agents like benzoyl peroxide, potassium bromate, or chlorine to produce a distinctive white color.  

The bleaching process helps speed up the aging of the flour, which in turn improves its baking qualities. This process makes the flour whiter, softer, and finer-grained. 

However, this chemical procedure alters the end product’s taste, texture, appearance, nutritional profile, and possible baking applications.

Aside from the physical changes in the flour, the bleaching process also enhances the dough’s viscosity and machinability. It also has the edge over others, particularly regarding the flour’s longevity of life.

How Does it Compare to Unbleached Flour?

Knowing what bleached flour is, you can quickly identify what distinguishes it from unbleached flour. Specifically, these two differ in processing, appearance, texture, and taste.  

Can You Use Bleached Flour for Sourdough Starter?

As stated above, you can use any grain flour for a sourdough starter. But it would not be very wise to use bleached flour. The reason for this is this type severely impacts the life of the microorganisms in the starter. 

It is much more advisable to use unbleached flour in making a sourdough starter for your pizza. Bleached flour damages the yeast present in the grains, affecting the quality of your dough.

 Consider bleached flour as a last resort, something to pursue only if the more ideal choices are out of reach or unavailable. The perfect case choice is to make use of unbleached flour. 

This practice is beneficial for those who regularly create sourdough starters. You want to save time and be efficient, especially if you have better options anyway.

What Happens if I Use Bleached Flour in a Sourdough Starter?

Unbleached flour is preferable, particularly whole wheat or whole rye. But if you do not have any unbleached flour available or it is too much of a hassle to obtain one, then you can still go ahead and use bleached flour. 

Some bakers use bleached all-purpose flour with no additional ingredients, even extra yeast. The results were satisfactory, although the quality is inferior to starters made of unbleached flour.

In addition, it took a few weeks before the quality got to a good point. If you want to create a batch of pizza dough for an occasion happening soon, try to avoid bleached flour as much as possible. It might also help introduce a bit of heat to the starter after feeding.

Simply leaving the mixture at room temperature might reduce waiting time, especially in the colder months. It probably has something to do with the chemical reactions of the microorganisms (or maybe they get lonely in the cold).

Can You Use Bleached Flour for Pizza Dough?

To yield a delicious homemade pizza, we recommend you not to use bleached flour for your dough. 

  • Bleached flour isn’t as nutritional as unbleached flour. A chemical breakdown happens during the bleaching process, reducing the number of nutrients in the flour.
  • Bleached flour can have a harsh aftertaste. Those with an acute taste may detect a distinct bitter aftertaste in bleached flour.
  • The flour is bleached with chemicals. Companies employ roughly 20 different chemicals to bleach flour, although only a few are used at any time. Although most are considered safe and food-grade, many people are concerned about the long-term safety of foods treated with chlorine. After the bleaching process, these preservatives remain in the flour and, unavoidably, in whatever you bake with it.

On the other hand, unbleached flour is the most suitable type of flour for pizza dough because: 

  • Unbleached flour has a higher protein content than bleached flour, which makes the unbleached flour stronger. 
  • Unbleached flour, being a strong flour, provides a better structure and will sustain the weight of your pizza’s topping without tearing.
  • Unbleached flour has a higher beta-carotene pigment content, which gives the dough a better flavor and aroma. 

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Using a Starter for Pizza Dough

Sourdough starters are rooted in the science of culturing bacteria and yeast, such as products like kefir or kombucha. The specific bacteria species, lactobacilli strains, give off a sour taste.

It means that yeasts in the starter allow your baked goods to rise. As a result, the dough rises, as seen in many sourdough products.

use bleached flour for sourdough starter
Sourdough Starter for Pizza

 In the past, bakers created bread products using sourdough starters or yeast obtained from wineries. Today, bakers use yeast more frequently, especially since it is more convenient for first-time or home-based bakers.

Creating a sourdough starter from scratch is not complicated. Besides its a fulfilling task, you also end up with a long-term batch for later use, and you don’t have to worry if your yeast is dead. 

That means more time to experiment in the kitchen and less waiting time at the supermarket! 

Having a starter removes the need to go out and purchase yeast from the store any time you need some for baking.

What to Do with the Starter

You can store the sourdough starter in the refrigerator. The low temperature of the fridge will make it inactive, meaning you can leave it alone for a few days or weeks. 

But to use it for making dough, it needs to be in an active state. You can reactivate the starter by “feeding” the starter, which is another easy process you can do in a matter of minutes.

How to Feed a Sourdough Starter

To feed a starter, you need to remove a portion of the starter mixture, then put in flour and water. After this, mix the ingredients and cover the mix.

Store it in a warm place and wait for it to increase in size. It usually takes around six to seven hours.

 There are various ways to feed the starter, but a safe bet is to have equal portions of the starter, water, and flour. Make sure only to use an appropriate amount of all ingredients. 

Otherwise, you could end up with too much dough for your pizza. Maybe you can also donate some to friends getting into the art of baking if you are open to the idea of sharing.

What Type of Flour Should I Feed my Sourdough Starter?

 Regarding the type of flour for feeding, there are no actual requirements. Any grain-based kind of flour should do the trick, regardless of the key ingredient or label. 

That means rice flour, spelt flour, or you can use any wheat flour. Of course, some bakers have an “ideal” flour for feeding-bread flour. 

Here’s What the PROs at Homemade Pizza Pro Use and Recommend

Best for High-Temperature Ovens
Antimo Caputo Pizzeria 00 Flour (Blue)
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However, you can still use other types of flour for bread or pizza dough.

You can feed any sourdough starters created from wheat flour as long as they become active and healthy.

Make sure that the flour comes from a type of grain that resembles wheat, but prepare yourself for differences in flavor and behavior. 

Why Do You Need to Feed a Sourdough Starter?

The primary reason you need to feed a starter with flour is to maintain the health of the mixture. Flour’s main required nutritional component is starch, which varies in different flours.

The amount of flour may affect the starter, but it is good to know that most grains have the necessary nutrients for the bacteria and yeast to survive and continue doing their job.

The more flour you have, the more starch for the microorganisms. Easy as pie!

Using Whole-grain Flours in Starters

The one flour that we do not recommend for starters is whole-grain flour. Whole-grain flours yield unreliable starters, despite their high vitamin and mineral content.

These components affect their behavior as part of a starter compared to flour used for white bread. Whole-grain starters need feeding more frequently, which can be a hassle for any baker.

In addition, it takes some time to get them right. For example, the starter can bubble unexpectedly or end up going completely inactive when you use it. 

In comparison, white bread flour quickly establishes itself. Its behavior is more predictable, making it a suitable choice for baking.

If you have the time and are just storing the starter for future use, you can keep on feeding it until you notice increased activity. Many bakers adopt this practice for some starters they create.

What is the Best Flour for a Sourdough Starter for Pizza?

Although bakers typically use bread flour, we think another type of flour is superior to use. That is Caputo 00 flour, which is also gaining popularity in some circles.

The quality and fineness of this product are why it has seen an increase in use. Think of it as a “cool kid,” but this surge in fame is justified.

Caputo 00 flour is so fine, which makes it comfortable to use. Many professional pizza bakers use this type of flour for their artisanal products, adding to their pizzas’ “premium” feel. 

Also, it has a higher amount of gluten than most popular types of flour. However, if you have any relatives or friends who have gluten intolerance, perhaps it is worth seeking out a different kind of flour at the nearest store.

The “00” in the flour stands for the flour texture, meaning that this is the finest available on the market. If elasticity is vital to you or your “trademark” pizza, then Caputo Flour is a win for you.

Specifically, the Caputo “Cuoco” (or Caputo Chef’s Flour) is used by bakers who make use of lengthier fermentation processes. It has slightly higher gluten (higher than all-purpose flour), keeping its form during fermentation.

Here’s What the PROs at Homemade Pizza Pro Use and Recommend

Best for Standard Home Ovens
Antimo Caputo "00" Chefs Flour (Red)
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Remember that you are free to choose whatever type of flour you prefer. What matters is that you pick the type of flour that complements your style or target taste. 

You may also make different batches and have a family member check which is preferred. Consider if the resulting texture affects the flavors of the pizzas you want to bake.

The Last Slice

We hope that you learned that you can use bleached flour for sourdough starters.

Overall, creating a sourdough starter does not have to be complicated. The creation and feeding process can be done in a matter of minutes. But while you may use any flour, different ones produce different effects. 

The time it takes for the starters to become active may be increased, which can be less than ideal if you are running on a deadline. Ideally, avoid bleached flour.

Always remember that not every batch of pizzas will come out perfect. 

There will be mistakes along the way, especially for those still in their beginner stages. 

A true baker aspires to do better and sees mistakes as an opportunity to learn and develop more high-quality pizzas as they go along.

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