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Q&A Types of White Flour, Their Weights and How Much Water to Use

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Q: I want to use a white flour with higher protein, how do I adjust the recipe?

A: We wrote the original white-flour Master Recipe for our first book with typical all-purpose white flour (such as Gold Medal), which has a protein content of about 9.8-10.5%. The following flours have a greater protein content and will require you to add more water to dough that is entirely made from these white flours.  You don’t need all that extra water if white flour only part of the loaf’s flour mixture.

King Arthur All-Purpose, 11.7% protein (add approximately 1/4 cup extra water to the full recipe).

Dakota Maid All-Purpose:  add approximately 1/4 cup extra water to the full recipe

Canadian all-purpose flour, most brands:  add approximately 1/4 cup extra water to the full recipe

Gold Medal Better for Bread 12.5% protein: add approximately 1/3 cup extra water to the full recipe

King Arthur Bread Flour 12.7% protein (add approximately 1/3 cup extra water to the full recipe)

Any “bread” flour: Most flour labeled as “bread flour” is 12-13% protein (add approximately 1/3 cup extra water to the full recipe).  In Europe, this flour is labeled as “strong flour.”  If a flour is labeled as “high-gluten” it’s probably 14-15% protein (add approximately 1/2 cup extra water to the full recipe).

Q: What is the weight of the flour that you use?

A: We wrote the book with measures because we find that most people are still using cup measures when baking. We have been pleasantly surprised at the number of our readers that are scaling their recipes. Here are the weight equivalents to the flour that we use:

1 cup all-purpose flour = 5oz

6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (master recipe) = 2 pounds

1 cup whole wheat = 4 1/2 oz

1 cup of rye = 4 1/4 oz

Q: What should the “hydration” of the dough be?

A: Again, we tried to avoid confusing professional language in the book, but several people have asked about bakers percentages and hydration levels for white flour. The hydration needed for dough storage will vary with to the type of flour you are using.  “Hydration,” when the term is used by professional bakers, means the ratio of the water weight to the flour weight, expresed as a percentage.  High protein flours absorb much more water and will require you to add more water. Here are the hydration levels we’ve used, but remember, this applies to dough made from white flours (whole grain is a different story, requiring higher levels of hydration):

When using most all-purpose flours (eg., Gold Medal):  75% hydration

When using Gold Medal Better for Bread:  83% hydration

When using King Arthur all-purpose:  81% hydration

When using King Arthur bread flour:  83% hydration

When using most bread flours:  83% hydration

When using most high-gluten flours:  85% hydration

More in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and our other books. If you use vital wheat gluten to get an airier crumb with whole grains loaves, you need even more hydration–see Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

We recommend that you follow the Master Recipes in our books as we have written them until you get a feel for the proper consistency. Once you know what it should feel like then it is wonderful to play with other flours.

Click here if you want to understand baker’s percentages.

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602 thoughts on “Q&A Types of White Flour, Their Weights and How Much Water to Use

    • Hi Jennie,

      You may need to add a bit more water, but start with a straight swap and see if your dough is too dry.

      Thanks, Zoë

  1. I agree that amount of water in the dough vary with different kinds of flour. Many times people send me queries about how much water should they add to the dough. You have placed detailed information about the hydratation, I,m not that good. I will read more carefully your posts to gain some info, Jacek

  2. I usually make my bread dough and then let it rise for around 15 hours or so and then bake it. I decided to make the bread dough that you put in the fridge. However, I let the bread dough rise overnight and then put in fridge. I made the 2 lb. loaf. 6 1/2 cups flour and 3 cups water. Somit was in the fridge around 18 hours. I baked the bread in my enamel covered bakeware for 45 minutes and then took the lid off and baked it another 35 minutes. I put a thermometer through the center and it displayed over 200 degrees. However, I let the bread sit out overnight and it feels moist and somewhat dense. What did I do wrong? Thanks

    • Hi Gerri,

      What kind of flour did you use?

      How long did you let the loaf rest after you shaped it and before you baked it?

      Thank you, Zoë

  3. I’m in Canada and I love making the master recipe from the New Artisan book. However, when I follow the weight measurements with Five Roses flour I end up with a dough that is unbelievably sticky. No amount of dusting seems to be enough to handle it without becoming a mess. Am I doing something wrong? The book suggests more water for Canadian flour but that sounds like it would be even stickier.

    • Yes- our assumption may not hold for all Canadian flours, and who knows, Five Roses may be lower in protein than our typical flour (US-grown Gold Medal). Just decrease the water a bit. 1/8-cup? 1/4-cup?

  4. Hi,

    I have been using the Master Recipe for about a year now with great success.

    The past two batches, however, the dough has ended up very wet and hard to handle when cloaking. Before this, the dough never was like this.

    I always weigh my ingredients and use the same exact flour and procedures. The only difference that I can think of is that now it is winter, and maybe the humidity is the culprit.

    Could the different humidity level cause that much of a change in the dough? The result is still great but it’s much harder to handle.

    I don’t mind adjusting the amount of water or just using a little more flour when cloaking, but I wanted to see if I could find out why this was happening!

    Thanks!

    • Hi Jay,

      Yes, the humidity can have an effect, but usually in the winter the flour is dry and the dough as well. Another issue is that the protein content in flour can fluctuate slightly from batch to batch, so even a flour you have used often can sometimes be slightly higher or lower in protein. If all else is the same and you are having different results, I think it may just be the batch of flour you bought.

      To counter this, you can add more flour to the dough or just use more when shaping the loaf.

      Thanks, Zoë

  5. I made your Artisan Bread for the first time three days ago and it was amazing. I have never been able to make bread until now. I have not been able to get the book yet but I wanted to know how to add flavor to the dough in the fridge before I make another loaf. Can you please give me some pointers?

    • While you’re waiting for the book to arrive, explore all the free content here on the website. Best place to start is on our “FAQs” tab above.

  6. Would it be okay to sub in some buckwheat flour into the Master Recipe? Would I need to adjust the quantities of other ingredients?

    • Well, so long as you keep it low-percentage, it’s pretty easy. Swapping one cup won’t make much difference, but prob have to increase the water a couple tablespoons (a guess). Which book do you have, some have buckwheat in the books?

      • Thanks Jeff! I don’t actually have any of your books yet, but am keen to look into getting a copy. Would you mind letting me know what books include buckwheat recipes? I live in an area that has an abundance of buckwheat!

      • Hi Mel,

        We have buckwheat recipe in our Healthy Bread book, but you can replace up to 3/4 cup of the all-purpose flour with buckwheat in any of our doughs without changing anything else.

        Thanks, Zoë

  7. Hi Zoë and Jeff,

    In love with the book and the site.

    I’m having some trouble though. Using the ABin5 Master Recipe. My dough comes out very wet, and I mean really wet.

    I’m using Bacheldre Watermill – Organic Stoneground Strong Unbleached White flour (http://www.bacheldremill.co.uk/shop/details/?q=2)

    Since its a strong flour, I use a ⅓cup of water extra.

    I spoke to the mill today, and they say it averages about 14% protein. Which seems like I should really be using ½cup, which would be even wetter.

    I’m a little confused.

    Any suggestions?

    Many thanks,

    • But you’re in the UK, and in Europe, I believe you use “anhydrous” measurement of protein, which means after all the water is heated off, so the numbers (for protein) are higher. My guess is that you simply need to drop the extra water and you should be fine. North American flours are particularly strong, esp in Canada.

      May take some experimentation…

  8. Hello!
    I’m using French T55 flour from Moulin d’Auguste and was wondering how the master recipe would need to be changed (if at all) to use this flour?
    Thanks!

    • Which of our recipes are you using—which book, what page number? There are many “Master” recipes and we have 5 books out there.

  9. Have you guys found that organic flours act differently than non-organic flours? Is there an organic brand that you recommend or any water adjustments that would need to be made? I have The New Artisan Bread in 5 and am still working on the Master Recipe on p. 53. Just mixed my second batch and finished off my flour (regular supermarket brand unbleached all-purpose) and would like to try organic next.

    • Hi Lauren,

      The difference doesn’t tend to be that it is organic, but how it is ground. If you are using a large scale commercial brand, like Gold Medal (who did have an organic line at one point, maybe still do?) the flour will act just as the non-organic does. If it is a smaller producer, their grinders don’t tend to get the flour as fine and that effects the gluten development in the dough. If the dough seems to lack structure, you will likely need to decrease the water or add a bit of vital wheat gluten to the dough.

      Thanks, Zoë

      • Hi Lauren,

        I haven’t experimented with the Bob’s all-purpose flour. But, I just looked on their website and the flour has a fairly high protein content, so you will need to add more water. You may need up to a 1/4 cup more water.

        Let me know how it goes! Zoë

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