Updated: Feb 13
There exists a variety of wheat flours. They all pretty much look and feel the same. How do you know which is best to use for your recipe and why?
I have always been interested in the ingredients that make our favorite recipes so delicious. Today, I want to dive into the world of wheat flour. We all know about wheat flour, if you have ever baked anything you have likely needed to use some. Flour is just one of those ingredients we use, we know we need, but may not necessarily question further. Even for those who bake all the time, and might have used different flours, do you know why some flours are best for certain kinds of recipes? What are the differences? What makes one more favorable that the other? After all, isn't all-purpose flour good for ALL purposes? Why then would we need any others ?
These are questions I have also had when standing in the baking isle at the grocery store and thought I am likely not alone. So here is the quick Flour Facts breakdown.
The first thing to know about wheat flour is, as the name suggests, that it is a type of flour that is made from the grinding of wheat kernels. It is one of the most commonly used types of flour in the world, with millions of tons produced annually. Wheat flour is rich in carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, making it a staple ingredient in many baked goods, breads, pasta etc.
The process of making wheat flour is a simple one. First, the wheat kernels are cleaned and sorted to remove any impurities or foreign objects. They are then sent through a series of rollers that crush and grind the kernels into a fine powder. The resulting flour is sifted to remove any large pieces or bran.
There are many different types of wheat flour, each with their own unique properties and uses. Some of the most common types include all-purpose flour, pastry flour, bread flour, self-raising flour, and whole wheat flour.
All- Purpose Flour:
A blend of hard and soft wheat and is the most versatile flour. It has a medium gluten protein content of 10-12%. This makes it a good choice for a wide range of baked goods such as cakes, cookies, quick breads, sauces and some yeast breads.
Pastry Flour: Pastry flour has a lower gluten protein content than all-purpose flour (9-10%) and is made from soft wheat. It results in a tender and delicate crumb, making it ideal for pastries, pie crusts, tarts, and biscuits.
Bread-Flour: Bread flour, on the other hand, is a high-protein flour with a higher gluten content than all-purpose flour (12-14%). It is made of hard wheat. This makes it ideal for making bread and other baked goods that need a structure to support their rise. The higher protein content in bread flour provides the necessary elasticity and structure to create the perfect loaf of bread.
A type of all-purpose flour that has baking powder and salt added to it. It is mainly used for quick breads, cakes, and biscuits. Self-rising flour is not recommended for yeast breads as the added baking powder can interfere with the yeast's ability to rise.
Whole Wheat Flour:
Whole wheat flour is a type of wheat flour that is made from the entire wheat kernel, including the bran and germ, making it a healthier option compared to other types of wheat flour. It is made by grinding wheat kernels into a fine powder and is used in a wide variety of recipes, from baked goods to pasta. It has a higher protein content of 11-15%.
In conclusion, the differences between these flours lie in the the type of wheat used, affecting the texture and structure of baked goods. Hard wheat has a higher protein content and is used to make bread flour, while soft wheat has a lower protein content and is used to make pastry flour. The higher protein content in hard wheat results in a denser, chewier texture in baked goods, while the lower protein content in soft wheat results in a tender, crumbly texture.
Hope this gave you a little more insight into an important staple ingredient and that this information will help you in your baking and cooking journeys.