Q.: I was trying a pie crust recipe that called for unbleached all-purpose flour. Can I use bleached all-purpose flour instead?

— Maryann Kostich, Munroe Falls

A.: Every chef has preferences, so some recipes may specify one over the other, but it is fine to interchange the two for a pie crust and other types of baking, except bread baking.

Unbleached all-purpose flour is just what it sounds like: all-purpose flour that has not been bleached. Bleaching is a way of aging flour chemically, instead of waiting for it to happen naturally. As flour ages naturally, it changes color from creamy ivory to white. When chemically bleached, in addition to the color, the flour’s structure also is changed, so that it does not form gluten as well as unbleached flour.

Bleached flour is used when you want results that are light and delicate, such as cakes, cookies, pie crusts and other pastries. In the case of your pie crust recipe, it is likely the creator either wanted a more sturdy crust, or did not want to use a chemically treated flour. Bleached flour should work fine.

In bread-baking, formation of gluten is critical to the structure of the dough and bread, so use unbleached flour for breads and pizza crusts that you want to rise, shape and have a chewy final texture.

Got a food question? Lisa Abraham has the answer. Call 330-996-3737; email her at labraham@thebeaconjournal.com with “Ask Lisa” in the subject line; or write to her at 44 E. Exchange St., P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640. Please include your name (initials will be printed on request), hometown and phone number.