It’s important to stock your pantry with the right flour for the right job. Most recipes will specify what type of flour you should use, but just in case, here’s a quick primer on a few popular flours to make sure your cakes, cookies, breads and whatever else you’re baking, turn out just right (plus a few flour-y recipes to try!)
Let’s start at the beginning. Flour is made by grinding wheat. The different sections of the wheat kernel produce flours of different textures when they’re ground. The harder parts of the wheat kernel have a higher protein content and produce a harder, coarser flour. Softer parts of the wheat kernel, which have lower protein content, produce softer, finer flour.
All-Purpose Flour (APF) is a mix of both hard and soft flours. Consider this the workhouse of flours since it’s produced to work in a variety of foods.
Bread Flour is a hard flour. It has a coarser texture and more protein than APF. The extra protein makes it ideal for making, you guessed it, breads.
Cake Flour is a soft flour. Its fine texture makes it perfect for producing tender cakes and cookies. You can make your own cake flour by measuring one cup of APF. Remove two tablespoons of the flour from the cup and replace it with two tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift and voila, cake flour.
Pastry Flour is a cross between all purpose flour and cake flour. It’s a soft flour that creates flaky, tender pastries. Use this for cookies and pie crusts. You can mix your own pastry flour by combining one cup of all purpose flour with two cups cake flour.
Self-Rising Flour is all purpose flour with salt and baking powder added. It’s name is based on the fact that the leavening agent – baking powder – is already mixed in so your muffins, pancakes and biscuits will rise up beautifully and tenderly. Use self-rising flour within six months, before the baking soda loses its leavening powers.
Whole Wheat Flour is made by grinding the wheat germ and bran in with the endosperm. I know that sounds super scientific, but it’s really just grinding wheat’s hard parts in with the soft parts. These hard parts don’t do so well in the gluten department so baked goods made with whole wheat flour are typically dense. Whole wheat flour has more flavor and a darker light brown color than other flours.
Put your new flour power to use in these wheat-y recipes!!
Light & Crisp Waffles
Rich Chocolate Cookies – Three Ways
Perfect Tart Dough