I grew up not knowing any difference in flours. My mother and grandmother only used AP flour, the cheapest they could find. All their recipes, from bread to holiday treats started with "5 lb bag of flour." They kneaded 5 lbs with water, salt and yeast by hand.
Once I started food shopping for myself at uni, decades before the Internet, I saw the different flours at the store (AP, bread, self-rising, pastry) but had no idea how one was different from others. I bought AP. I used AP even if the recipe I was following called for bread flour. No one ever complained. I rarely baked bread but I did make my own pizza doughs.
Then comes SMF, lock down, supply-chain issues, etc. The first time I saw a $2.50 loaf of bread climb beyond $5, I started baking my own every week. For $5 in flour I could bake 5 loaves of bread.
Baking my own meant I had to learn about the differences in flour. I keep AP, bread, whole wheat, and cake flour on hand. If you haven't fried or oven-fried chicken dipped in cake flour, egg, and seasoned cake flour, you're missing out on a new level of crunch.
I'll be starting a sourdough ciabatta faux baguette later today, using bread flour with a little whole wheat. My mouth is already watering.
Starter fermenting on countertop.
View attachment 665189