As you might have noticed, here at Bob’s Red Mill we have a huge selection of different types of grains and flours to choose from. One of the questions that we are asked most often here in the bakery is the difference between two specific kinds: Hard Red Wheat and Hard White Wheat. We thought we’d take a minute to give you some information to help you pick out the flour that is best for your baking needs.
The terms “red” and “white” are used to identify the color of the kernel and not of the flour that is eventually milled from those kernels. Hard white wheat was actually originally developed from hard red wheat. The idea was to create a new type of wheat with the same overall nutritional value, but with some different characteristics for baking.
Red wheat has a slightly higher amount of protein which makes it better for more rustic, artisan and generally harder bread loaves. In contrast, hard white wheat’s more moderate level of protein makes for softer loaves such as your typical pan loaves and dinner rolls. In the bakery, we use hard white wheat to create a single-twisted sliced pan loaf which is very soft in texture.
The other major difference between the two types of wheat is in flavor. Red wheat has a certain genetic makeup that gives the bran its darker color, whereas white wheat has been cultivated to be free of these certain genes. By eliminating these genes, the bitter taste sometimes experienced with red wheat is reduced. Health conscious bakers often prefer white wheat because this genetically reduced bitterness requires less additional sweeteners in the final product.
Of course, the best way to discover which flour is the one that you prefer is to test both out for yourself. Here is the recipe that our Quality Control Laboratory uses to test all our batches of flour for consistent quality. They use it to test out all our batches of unbleached white flour, our hard red wheat flour, and our hard white wheat flour. If you try this experiment at home, you will find that just the difference in flours makes for vastly different types of loaves of bread. Our Lab uses a machine that makes consistent 1.5 lb loaves.
Test Loaf Recipe
for a 1.5 lb loaf
1 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp Warm Water (above 80 degrees Fahrenheit)
3 tbsp Canola Oil
3 ¾ cups Flour (Hard Red, Hard White, or Unbleached White)
2 tbsp of Sugar
1 ½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Active Dry Yeast
Add the ingredients to your machine in the order listed above. Start the machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Be sure to share the results of your experiments with friends and family!