Types of flour use in baking

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 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, eclairs, cream puffs and popovers.

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. This is the best choice for yeast products.

Whole-wheat 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.

Cake flour is a fine-textured, soft-wheat flour with a high starch content. It has the lowest protein content of any wheat flour. 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 tbsp of flour for each cup used in the recipe (if using volume measuring).

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. Use it 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.

Self-rising flour is a low-protein flour with salt and leavening already added. It's most often recommended for biscuits and some quick breads, but never for yeast breads.

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.

Durum flour is finely ground semolina and is grown almost exclusively in North Dakota.

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.

Gluten flour is usually milled from spring wheat and has a high protein. It is used primarily for diabetic breads, or mixed with other nonwheat or low-protein wheat flours to produce a stronger dough structure.

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