Bread machines are almost magical… as long as you know which bread to use for your bake!
These devices take much of the guesswork out of baking, making it easy to bake the perfect loaf without spending the whole afternoon kneading and checking the oven.
No matter how many flavors and additives go into your next creation, excellent bread flour will be the most critical ingredient. When it comes to finding the best flour for a bread machine, you’ll want to keep a few rules in mind.
It’s essential to know how much gluten and protein your flour mix contains. You’ll also benefit from learning how to mix different types of flour to get the perfect multigrain loaf.
Read on to find out how many types of bread flour can go in a bread machine. Then, discover our top picks from each category.
Types of Bread Flour
Bread machines work with a long list of delicious ingredients: cranberries, nuts, chocolate chips, you name it! There are so many options for changing up your bread recipe to suit your mood and taste.
Bread machines can also take many different types of flour, depending on the kind of bread you’re hoping to bake. Whether you’re following a gluten-free diet or baking a wedding cake, there’s a type of flour out there that will check all the boxes.
Here are the most common types of bread flour you’ll find on the grocery store shelf.
White Bread Flour
If the only flour in your pantry is labelled “all-purpose,” it’s worth taking a trip to the store to pick out a high-quality white bread flour. You’ll want to look for bread flour specifically because it contains more gluten, which is the magic ingredient that combines with water and forms long strands, causing the loaf to rise.
Flours with lower amounts of gluten will produce a flatter loaf with a soft, undercooked center. For this reason, it’s always worth checking the back of your flour bag before setting off on your bread machine journey.
Some all-purpose flours contain enough protein and gluten to do the trick. In other cases, you may want to add pure gluten to your all-purpose flour or mix it up with whole wheat flour to get the best rise.
Whole Wheat Bread Flour
If you prefer your sandwiches on whole wheat instead of white bread, you’ll need to use whole wheat flour to get the desired result from your bread machine. Whole wheat flour contains lots of healthy fiber, and it’s also significantly higher in protein than regular bread flour.
It’s important to remember that high-protein flours absorb more water, so you’ll need to adjust your ingredients accordingly. Otherwise, you may encounter a dreaded collapse during baking, when the loaf over-inflates with carbon dioxide and then sinks into a crater.
Many bakers avoid the crater by combining whole wheat flour with all-purpose flour. That way, you can get a generous helping of fiber without compromising on a perfectly light and airy texture.
People with gluten allergies or other dietary restrictions have to look elsewhere for excellent bread flour. Fortunately, there are many gluten-free alternatives on the market. For a rustic approach, you can bake with a traditional flour substitute like rye, barley, buckwheat, or corn.
Modern bakers have become increasingly interested in gluten-free recipes, and there are tons of new and improved flour mixes to try. Most wheat flour alternatives combine ingredients like rice, sorghum, and tapioca starch.
With the right amount of milling and sifting, a high-quality gluten-free mix will be hard to tell apart from a wheat mix.
Are you baking a cake in your bread machine? You’ll want to stick with a lighter flour to get that delicate, puffy texture that all cake bakers envy.
Cake flours, pastry flours, and some all-purpose flours contain lower protein levels, meaning they won’t give much rise to a loaf of bread, but they’re perfect for cake bakers.
When it comes to cake baking, the finest quality flour comes from Italy. A time-tested Italian flour goes through a slow milling process that primes the mixture to absorb lots of water. The result is a soft, pillowy powder that bakes into perfectly airy cakes and pastries.
Tips For Buying Bread Flour
Flour is the basis of excellent bread, so buying the best quality ingredients can dramatically affect how your bread machine loaf comes out.
Look for flour for a bread machine that doesn’t contain unnecessary additives. Bleached white flour doesn’t taste any better than natural flour, and you don’t need carcinogens like potassium bromate to bake a great loaf of bread.
Your best chance at baking success will come from using a high-quality, high-protein flour that contains plenty of gluten. That is, unless you’re trying to avoid this ingredient. For the gluten-free crowd, we have plenty of recommendations for alternative mixes.
Best Flour For Bread Machine
Now that you understand the basic types of flour and how to select them, it’s time to decide what setting you’ll use for your next bread machine creation. Depending on the flavor, texture, and rise of the loaf you want, you have several settings at your disposal.
We rounded up our top picks for each bread machine option.
- Best White Bread Flour: Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached Flour
If you’re only buying one flour for a bread machine, we recommend you make it Bob’s Red Mill. We love this flour because it’s stripped down to the highest quality ingredient: nothing but freshly milled hard red wheat. Even better, Bob’s Red Mill Flour contains no additives, preservatives, or bleach.
Although this flour is labelled “All-Purpose”, the high protein content means it’s perfect for use as bread flour. Plus, it’s filled with fiber and iron for an extra health bonus.
If you’re baking on a basic white bread setting, what are you waiting for? Get to work with this delicious, organic unbleached flour that helps your bread rise to perfection.
- Best Budget White Bread Flour: King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
A close runner-up to our top pick, King Arthur Bread Flour is a high-quality, vitamin-enriched alternative for bakers on a budget. You can add this unbleached mix to your next loaf to enjoy high levels of protein, Vitamin B, and iron.
As soon as you add King Arthur bread flour to your bread machine, you’ll notice how finely ground the mixture is, compared to your usual all-purpose brand. This powdery milling results in a finished loaf with fine texture and consistent rise.
It tastes terrific in pizza, pasta, and pastries too! There’s no downside to picking up this budget-friendly flour, even just to try out a new brand to shake up your bread machine routine.
- Best Whole Wheat Flour: Great River Organic Milling Whole Wheat Bread Flour
Too much protein in your whole wheat flour will prevent your bread machine creation from achieving the perfect rise. However, you won’t have that problem with Great River Organic’s whole wheat flour.
Their gluten-rich mixture contains enough bran to cut gluten strands as the bread cooks. The result is a dense, hearty loaf that doesn’t fall into the trap of inflating and collapsing.
Great River Organic’s flour works great combined with all-purpose flours, but it can also bake a perfectly shaped loaf as the only flour in the bread machine.
Whole wheat baking enthusiasts use this mix to create pizzas, dumplings, and many other sweet and savory pastries. This versatile organic flour works in any bread machine recipe you can dream up.
- Best Gluten-Free Bread Mix: Pamela’s Products Gluten-Free Bread Mix
Gluten-free bakers know the struggle of buying overpriced artisan loaves to make toast and sandwiches that don’t upset their stomachs. Luckily, you can use your bread machine to make equally tasty bread on your own. All you need is the right bread mix that mimics gluten’s magic without the irritating side effects.
Pamela’s Products bread mix leaves out wheat, gluten, and dairy: sensitive stomachs, rejoice! What’s in it, you ask? The mix contains a delicate balance of tapioca, sorghum, and rice, with the natural flavor enhancements of xanthan gum, sugar, honey, and bran.
Even without wheat and gluten, you can use Pamela’s Products flour to bake surprisingly light, airy, and delectable bread. The mix even comes with a yeast packet, so as long as you have oil, water, and an egg (or vegan substitute), you’re ready to pop all the ingredients in the bread machine.
- Best Gluten-Free Bread Flour: Anthony’s Brown Rice Flour
Of all the gluten-free flour substitutes on the market, veteran bakers flock to Anthony’s for the tried-and-true effects of stone-ground brown rice. That’s right: you can use a light, powdery “flour” made of rice to add a rich, nutty taste and perfect texture to your baked goods.
Plus, Anthony’s Brown Rice Flour makes an excellent gluten-free thickener for soups and sauces.
With every flour alternative, you run the risk of getting gritty, poorly-ground pieces that affect your bread’s texture and rise. We can confirm you won’t have this problem with Anthony’s because it’s batch-tested to ensure the highest possible quality in each bag.
We love the subtle flavor of this brown rice flour, which mimics wheat flour so well that even the pickiest bread eaters won’t be able to tell the difference. Even better, it’s one of the most cost-effective gluten-free flours on the market, so stocking up on this brand will pay off no matter what you’re baking.
- Best Cake Flour: King Arthur All-Purpose Unbleached Flour
Cake flour is a tricky animal. It must be light and delicate enough for paper-thin scones and airy cakes, but not so light that it expands and craters all your hard work. Once again, we’re returning to King Arthur for their all-purpose flour, which is so versatile that you can use it in almost any baking recipe, inside and outside the bread machine.
Made of 100% hard red wheat, King Arthur’s all-purpose flour comes unbleached and free of potassium bromate. Plus, it’s kosher! This flour will be the bag you drag out of the pantry for all kinds of baking projects because its 11.7% protein content helps even the toughest bread recipe rise to perfection.
King Arthur’s all-purpose is also an excellent flour to combine with whole wheat mixes that need texture improvement.
- Best Cake Flour From Italy: Antimo Caputo Chef’s Flour
The distinguished baker understands that some recipes just don’t work without Italian cake flour. Whether you’re dreaming up a beautiful pizza crust or a delicious pastry, it’s a great idea to stock up on high-quality flour from Italy.
Antimo Caputo Chef’s Flour performs as well in a pie crust as it does in a bread machine, thanks to its elastic gluten that puffs a loaf up to pillowy heights.
Antimo Caputo mills their products with no extra additives like bleach or carcinogens like all our favorite flours. The mix contains only high-quality grains slowly crushed into fine powder for the best water absorption.
The company has been making flour since 1924, so it’s no wonder they’ve amassed such a cult following across the world. If you place an order for this savory Italian cake flour, be warned that you’ll receive a bulk order of 22 pounds. Our advice is to get to baking or store the leftover flour in the refrigerator to make it last longer.
A bread machine can save you tons of time and effort on making a beautiful loaf of bread. Still, you’ll need to set your device up for success by using the highest quality flours and ingredients. Choosing a low-quality mix or the wrong type for your desired bread style will disappoint you when you go to butter your first slice.
A great flour makes a loaf of great bread, so don’t settle for anything less than the best flour for a bread machine, no matter what setting you’re using. Whether you’re staying away from wheat flour or baking a whole grain sandwich loaf, you can rely on our top picks to get the best and tastiest result. Get to baking and bon appetit!