Know Your Flours & When To Use Them
Have you ever reached into your cupboard, eager to whip up a delicious meal only to discover that the recipe calls for one type of flour while all you have is another?
Well my friend, things could go downhill faster than an avalanche if those flours are not compatible! Plain and self-raising flours can cause some serious mayhem in any kitchen.
But don’t worry – we’ve got your back covered when it comes to getting clued up on different types of flour so never again will be faced with this dilemma.
So get ready for ‘Flour 101’ where after reading our piece about the most common varieties used today, even Professor McGonagall would give us full marks!
Different Types of Flour
Plain Flour AKA All-Purpose Flour
One of the most commonly used types of flour is the all-purpose flour or plain flour (also known as pastry flour or cream flour). So, the answer to the question; is all-purpose flour the same as plain flour, is a resounding yes there is no difference!
Plain flour is the undisputed king of crumbliness and no one can argue with that! Not only does it make your pastries flaky, but its low-gluten content makes sure every single bite will break apart in a delicious shower. So if you’re looking for sweet treats like biscuits or pies and don’t want an unpleasant chewiness to ruin them – plain (or all purpose) flour should be your choice!
Common Uses for Plain Flour
Biscuits, Pastry, Sauces, Pancakes, Waffles, Fried chicken, etc
Protein Content for Plain Flour
From a protein perspective, plain flour has around 10 – 12% protein depending on the brand.
Self Raising Flour
Looking for a little lift in your baking game? Look no further than self-raising flour – an all purpose solution to help give you that extra rise! Recipes make it easy too, so there’s no need to fuss with sifting through any additional ingredients.
It may be handy (not literally … but.. metaphorically) however, if you find yourself running low on the good stuff – just whip some up from scratch at home and save the day! All it takes is two teaspoons of baking powder per 100g of plain flour… Voila, homemade self-rising flour ready for rising deliciousness every time.
Self-raising flour is milled from both hard and soft wheat which naturally results in a lower protein flour.
Common Uses for Self Raising Flour
Cakes, Sponges, Brownies, Scones, Suet Pastry
Protein Content for Self Raising Flour
From a protein perspective, Self Raising flour has around 8.5% protein depending on the brand.
If you’ve ever wondered why your bread rises like a champ, then look no further than the strong flour that’s lovingly tucked away in your pantry. Packed with more gluten, protein and hard wheat goodness it works magic on whatever doughy delight you’re baking up!
Bread flour, or sometimes known as strong flour, contains much more gluten than the other types of flour on our list. Bread flour itself is milled entirely from hard wheat. This hard wheat results in a higher protein flour. The higher level of protein results in a larger amount of gluten production and in turn, helps the bread rise higher.
Common Uses for Bread Flour
Yeasted Bakes, Bread, Bagels, Choux Pastry, Filox Pastry
Protein Content for Bread Flour
From a protein perspective, bread flour has around 11 – 13% protein depending on the brand.
Cake flour is the favorite of bakers everywhere. Its fine, silky texture and acidity-induced rising capabilities make it a must for any tasty treat! Thanks to its bleaching process you can rest easy knowing your delectable desserts will keep their fluffy shape while baking—just one more delicious reason why cake flour reigns supreme in the kitchen.
Another thing which makes cake flour the best for cakes and recipes of the like is the fact that the flour itself is bleached. This bleaching process results in a more acidic pH and alters the flour’s starches and fats. The increase in acidity helps cakes rise rather than collapse during the baking process. This, combined with the low protein content ensure that your cake is delicate and fluffy.
Common Uses for Cake Flour
Cakes, Cupcakes, Muffins, Load cakes.
Protein Content for Cake Flour
From a protein perspective, cake flour has around 9% protein depending on the brand.
Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour or wholemeal flour is made by milling whole wheat. Whole wheat is wheat that contains all three parts of the kernel; The fibre-dense bran, the nutrient-rich germ and the starchy endosperm. For white flours, the bran and the germ have been completely removed just leaving the endosperm which is then milled. For whole wheat flour, everything is kept intact.
Common Uses for Whole Wheat Flour
Brown Bread, Wholemeal Loaves, Wholemeal Scones
Protein Content for Whole Wheat Flour
From a protein perspective, whole wheat flour has around 9 – 10% protein depending on the brand.
Looking to liven up your dinner game? Semolina flour is the answer! Made from hard durum wheat and boasting a coarse, yellow texture along with its high protein content, this marvellous ingredient will have you whipping out pasta like an Italian master chef.
With just one single scoop of semolina meal in hand, watch as that firm yet silky dough envelops all your recipes – dreaming of freshly made fettuccini pretty soon won’t be too far away!
Common Uses for Semolina
Pasta, Couscous, Porridge
Protein Content for Semolina
From a protein perspective, semolina has around 13% protein depending on the brand.
GF Flour is what it says on the tin. It’s flour without any gluten in it. If you want to use a GF flour in your baking or if your recipe calls for flour with no gluten, then you are going to have to find a suitable substitute. To replace the missing gluten in your flour, you’ll need to use other thickeners like xanthan gum or guar gum in your baked goods.
What is Xanthum Gum?
This gum comes from the dried cell coat of a microorganism called Xanthomonas campestris. You can purchase online and in most health food shops
What is Guar Gum?
Guar Gum is a powder that comes from the seed of the plant Cyamopsis tetragonolobus. It is an ideal gluten substitute and it is available online and in most health food shops.
Common Uses for Gluten-free Flour
Thickening Sauces, Coating meats, Flatbreads. Another common use of gluten free flour is in Asian cuisine using glutinous rice flour, if you’ve never heard of it read our deep dive.
Protein Content for Gluten-free Flour
The amount of protein in Gluten-free flour will depend on the type of flour you choose.
Oat flour is made from ground-up porridge oats. It is very simple to make at home with the use of a food processor or mini-chopper and it is a healthier, nutrient-rich alternative to your ordinary plain flour. If you choose oats that are gluten-free, you can also whip up some gluten-free baked goods in no time!
Common Uses for Oat Flour
Cookies, Banana Bread, Muffins, Pancakes
Protein Content for Oat Flour
From a protein perspective, oat flour has around 17% protein depending on the brand.
Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.
This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!