Different Types of Flour
Flour that is used in baking comes mainly from wheat, although it
can be milled from corn, rice, nuts, legumes, and some fruits and vegetables.
The type of flour of flour used is vital at getting the product right. Different types of flour are suited to different items and all
flours are different you cannot switch from one type to another without
consequences that could ruin the recipe. To achieve success in baking, it is
important to know what the right flour is for the job!
All-purpose flour is a blend of
hard and soft wheat; it may be bleached or unbleached. It is usually translated as “plain flour.” All-Purpose Flour
has 8% to 11% protein (gluten) . All-purpose flour is one of the most commonly
used and readily accessible flour in the United States.
Flour that is bleached
naturally as it ages is labeled “unbleached,” while chemically treated flour is
labeled “bleached.” Bleached flour has less protein than unbleached. Bleached is
best for pie crusts, cookies, quick breads, pancakes and waffles. Use unbleached
flour for yeast breads, Danish pastry, puff pastry, strudel, Yorkshire pudding,
éclairs, cream puffs and popovers.
Shelf-Life: For cabinet storage, up
to 8 months if properly stored in a sealed container or if tightly wrapped, and
for refrigerator storage, up to one year.
Bread flour is white flour made from hard, high-protein
wheat. It has more gluten strength and protein content than all-purpose flour.
It is unbleached and sometimes conditioned with ascorbic acid, which increases
volume and creates better texture. Bread flour has 12% to 14% protein (gluten).
This is the best choice for yeast products.
Shelf Life: Several months in
a cool, dry cabinet when stored in a sealed container or if tightly wrapped, and
up to one year in the freezer.
Buckwheat Flour is gluten-free
which makes it a good choice for anybody with gluten sensitivities or celiac
disease. It is packed with nutrients, readily available, easy to work with and
has a nice nutty flavor. Check out the article
Buckwheat Flour – Adds Nutrients and Flavor to Baked
Cake flour is a fine-textured, soft-wheat flour with a
high starch content. It has the lowest protein content of any wheat flour, 8% to
10% protein (gluten). It is chlorinated (a bleaching process which leaves the
flour slightly acidic, sets a cake faster and distributes fat more evenly
through the batter to improve texture. When you’re making baked goods with a
high ratio of sugar to flour, this flour will be better able to hold its rise
and will be less liable to collapse. This flour is excellent for baking
fine-textured cakes with greater volume and is used in some quick breads,
muffins and cookies. If you cannot find cake flour, substitute bleached
all-purpose flour, but subtract 2 tablespoons of flour for each cup used in the
recipe (if using volume measuring).
Gluten flour is usually milled from spring wheat and
has a high protein (gluten) of 12% to 14%. It is used primarily for diabetic
breads, or mixed with other non-wheat or low-protein wheat flours to produce a
stronger dough structure.
Instant flour (Wondra from Gold Medal) is granular and
formulated to dissolve quickly in hot or cold liquids. It will not work as a
substitute for all-purpose flour, although there are recipes on the container
for popovers and other baked goods. It is used primarily in sauces and
Organic flour is used in the same way as regular flour.
It must follow U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations to be labeled
“organic.” Using this flour is a matter of personal preference.
Pastry flour also is made with soft wheat and falls
somewhere between all-purpose and cake flour in terms of protein content and
baking properties. Pastry flour (also known as cookie flour) has a protein
(gluten) of 9% to 10%. Use pastry flour for making biscuits, pie crusts,
brownies, cookies and quick breads. Pastry flour makes a tender but crumbly
pastry. Do not use it for yeast breads. Pastry flour (both whole-wheat and
regular) is not readily available at supermarkets, but you can find it at
specialty stores and online. You can try to mimic it by using a 2-to-1 ratio of
all-purpose flour to cake flour.
Rice Flour – Rice flour (also called Mochiko on
Japanese and Pirinç Unu in Turkish) is a form of flour made from finely milled
rice. It can be made from either white or brown rice.
Self-rising flour, sometimes referred to as
phosphated flour, is a low-protein flour with salt and leavening (baking powder)
already added. It’s most often recommended for biscuits and some quick breads,
but never for yeast breads. Exact formulas, including the type of baking powder
used, vary by manufacturer. Recipes that call for self-rising flour do not call
for the addition of salt or leavening agents.
your own self-rising flour: Using a dry measure, measure the desired amount of
all-purpose flour into a container. For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2
teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix to
Semolina flour is used in making pasta and Italian
puddings. It is made from durum wheat, the hardest type of wheat grown. The
flour is highest in gluten. When other grains, such as rice or corn, are
similarly ground, they are referred to as “semolina” with the grain’s name
added, i.e., “corn semolina” or “rice semolina.” There are difference grades:
(1) Semolina flour is finely ground endosperm of durum wheat.
Semolina meal is a coarsely ground cereal like farina.
(3) Wheatina is
ground whole-grain wheat.
(4) Durum flouris finely ground
semolina and is grown almost exclusively in North Dakota.
Spelt flour is one of the most popular and widely
available non-wheat flours. The full name of spelt is Triticum aestivum var.
spelta. Spelt flour has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor similar to that
of whole wheat flour. It does contain gluten and is a popular substitute for
wheat in baked goods. Check out the article on Spelt Flour –
Add Spelt Flour to
your Diet for Variety and Nutrition.
Teff flour – Teff is an ancient and
intriguing grain, tiny in size yet packed with nutrition. It is simple to
prepare and similar to millet or quinoa in cooking. Teff is a great addition to
your diet for nutrition, taste, and variety. Teff is packed with
nutrition. It is higher in protein than wheat and has a high concentration of a
wide variety of nutrients, including calcium, thiamin and iron. The iron from
teff is easily absorbed by the body. Since the grains are so small, the bulk of
the grain is germ and brand. It is very high in fiber and is thought to benefit
people with diabetes as it helps control blood sugar levels. Teff contains no
gluten which makes it a suitable grain for celiacs or people with wheat
sensitivities. Due to its nutritional content and energy enhancing properties,
it has also gained favor with athletes. Check
out the article Teff – A Nutritious and Versatile Grain.
Whole-wheat flour (also called graham flour)
is made from the whole kernel of wheat and is higher in dietary fiber and
overall nutrient content than white flours. It does not have as high a gluten
level, so often it’s mixed with all-purpose or bread flour when making yeast
breads. Whole wheat flour is equivalent to British whole meal flour.
Life: 6 months to one year in the freezer if stored in tightly sealed
plastic containers or if tightly wrapped. It will keep for only a few months if
stored in a cabinet. Due to the presence of the wheat germ, resulting in an
unsaturated oil content that is higher than refined flour. The potential for
rancidity is greater if whole-wheat flour is kept for long periods and
particularly if it is not stored under refrigerated conditions. It is best to
store whole-wheat flour in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or
How To Buy
Look for tightly sealed bags
or boxes. Flours in torn packages or in open bins are exposed to air and to
How To Store
Flour must be
kept cool and dry. All flours, even white flour, have a limited shelf life.
Millers recommend that flours be stored for no more than
6 months. The main change that occurs is the oxidation of oils when
flour is exposed to air. The result of this is rancid off flavors. During hot
weather, store flour in the refrigerator.
be stored, covered, in a cool and dry area. This prevents the flour from
absorbing moisture and odors and from attracting insects and rodents. Freezing
flour for 48 hours before it is stored will kill any weevil or insect eggs
already in the flour. It is better not to mix new flour with old if you are
not using the flour regularly.
Do not store
flour near soap powder, onions or other foods and products with strong
If freezer space is
available, flour can be repackaged in airtight, moisture-proof containers,
labeled and placed in the freezer at 0 degrees F. If flour is stored like this,
it will keep well for several years.
Keep whole wheat flour
in the refrigerator the year around. Natural oils cause this flour to turn
rancid quickly at room temperature.
Throw away flour if it
smells bad, changes color, or is invested with weevils.
Flour is always readily
available so it should only be brought in quantities that will last a maximum of
two to three months.
Put a bay leaf in the
flour canister to help protect against insect infections. Bay leaves are natural