I have a lot of bread flour that I use in my bread machine. Can I use this flour when a recipe calls for all-purpose flour? If not, how long will bread flour last if I store it in the original bag and then inside a plastic bag? —K.D., Schenectady, New York
Bread flour is made from high-gluten hard wheat flour that gives strength and elasticity to yeast doughs. Bread flour can also be used for other yeast-raised doughs, strudel, puff pastry, popovers and pasta where strength and elasticity are desired. All-purpose flour is a blend of both high-gluten hard wheat and low-gluten soft wheat flours. It, too, can be used for yeast breads, but the loaves will not rise quite as high. All-purpose flour is ideally suited for baked goods where tenderness is desired. Unfortunately, bread flour is not suitable for making cakes, quick breads, muffins, pie crusts and pancakes. Bread flour should be stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place and has a shelf life of 10–15 months. For longer storage, freeze in an airtight container. Before using refrigerated flour in yeast doughs, warm it to room temperature so it does not slow the rising of the dough.