Different Varieties of Flours – All Purpose Flours – Their Uses (For Bakery)

Confused about the different types of flour? This guide will walk you through when and how to use AP, bread, pastry, whole wheat, gluten-free, and more.

Different Types of Flours and their Suggested Uses

Also Read: Function of Whole Wheat Flour and Fibre in Bakery Products

All-purpose
flour
Available bleached or unbleached; a blend of hard spring wheat and soft winter wheat; protein content between 9 and 11 percent.
Bread flour Available bleached or unbleached, bromated or not; hard red spring wheat; protein content between 11.5 and 13 percent; usually includes enzymatic corrective; slightly granular to the touch.
High-gluten flour Unbleached; dark spring northern wheat; 14 percent protein content; used in combination with bread or all-purpose flours; good for highly machined doughs or in combination with grain
flours lacking gluten.
Whole wheat Flour Unbleached; contains all of the wheat grain including bran, germ, and endosperm. Soft whole wheat flour is used in chemically leavened batters like muffins and pancakes; protein content is around 11 percent. Whole wheat from hard red winter wheat is used primarily in bread; protein content is around 13 percent.
Rye flours White rye flour is milled from the center of the endosperm; cream or light-rye flour is from the next layer out of the endosperm; dark rye flour comes primarily from the outer portion of the endosperm.
Various blends are available. Rye is also available as a meal, that is, ground from the whole kernel. Rye meal is available in various particle sizes, ranging from fine, to medium, to coarse. The coarse
grade of rye meal is what is commonly referred to as pumpernickel flour.

Rye chops are the equivalent of cracked wheat.

Also Read: Types of Wheat Flour Used in Biscuits and Its Function

Patent durum or
semolina flour
Fine silky grind of extremely hard cold-weather wheat; unbleached, pale yellow in character; protein content of around 12 percent; particularly good in hearth breads.
Pastry flour Available bleached or unbleached; soft winter wheat; protein content around 9 percent.
Cake flour Always bleached and enriched; soft winter wheat, particularly from warmer growing regions; protein content around 7.5 to 8 percent; ideal for cakes, pie crusts, biscuits.
Artisanal
bread flour
Unbleached; lower protein content of around 11.5 percent; performs in hearth breads much like lower protein European flours; equivalent to United States flours with higher extraction rate.
Organic flour Always unbleached and unbromated; growing conditions are just now being standardized by the federal government; expensive, up to twice the cost of regular flour; thought by many bakers to be
good for beginning naturally fermented starters owing to high content of microflora.
Wheat bran Removed in milling, sold separately, and contains all of the cellulose in wheat that provides fiber; used extensively in health breads and in muffins
Wheat germ Removed in milling, toasted and sold separately; provides nutty, pleasant taste; spoils quickly, especially if not properly refrigerated.

Whole Wheat vs. White

Wheat’s seed head (the top of the plant) is made from three portions: the germ, the bran, and the endosperm. White flour has been stripped of the bran and germ, leaving behind the fine, pale endosperm. It is more shelf-stable than whole wheat flour, but as a result, has a milder flavor and less nutritive qualities—the bulk of the fiber and protein are contained in the bran and germ. Whole wheat flour is made from grinding all three portions of the seed head. Small-scale millers will often grind the seed head whole, but large, commercial millers frequently separate the portions and then add the bran and germ back in to the endosperm for “Frankensteined” whole wheat flour.

Whole wheat flour is more absorbent than white flour, thus requiring more liquid. This results in extra-sticky doughs that can be challenging for beginning bakers to work with. If you’re interested in making whole wheat bread, swap 25% of your white flour for whole wheat to start, and increase as you become more skilled at kneading a wet dough. Depending on the grind, whole wheat flour can be very coarse, with large pieces of bran. These sharp granules can slice through protein chains, shredding gluten and making bread doughs crumbly, rather than elastic and chewy. Avoid this by not overworking the dough.

Also Read: Concept of Bread Making – Defining Gluten Formation with Functioning

Bleached vs. Unbleached

White flour is sometimes treated by bleaching, either with chlorine or benzoyl peroxide (yep, the same stuff as in zit cream). Bleaching flour damages its starch and protein content, and speeds up the “curing” process, which would occur naturally over the course of a couple of weeks. Cured flour is easier to work with, making doughs less gummy and more malleable. Bleached white flours also absorb more liquid than unbleached white flours, and rise better than whole wheat flours.

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