Food & Drink

Different types of flour

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There are many flour options, so it can be hard to choose the right one. It doesn’t matter if you use it to make bread, gravy or thicken sauces.

Anatomy of a Wheat Kernel

Understanding the anatomy of wheat seeds is key to understanding the different types of flours. The three components of the wheat kernel are separated during milling. Only the protein-rich endosperm is used to make refined flours. Whole wheat flours can also be made when all three parts are kept intact during milling. Different types of flour

While some flours can be used in various recipes, others are best for baking or cooking. Learn about the differences in flours, their manufacturing processes, and how they affect food texture to help you choose the right flour for your recipe.

Bleached Flavor Bleached flour refers to a refined flour that has had the germ and bran removed and added a bleaching agent. This flour can be artificially aged by either a bleaching or maturing agent. The most commonly used bleaching/maturing agents in the U.S. are potassium bromate, benzoyl oxide, ascorbic and chlorine gas.

Brominated Flour

This flour is made with potassium bromate, a chemical oxidizer and dough conditioner. This can improve the appearance of baked goods by making them rise higher and have a finer crumb. It is important to remember that potassium bromate can cause serious side effects if bread made from this flour is not baked at the right temperature or at the right time.

Enriched Flour

Flour enrichment is a process that replenishes essential nutrients like iron, B vitamins, calcium, and other nutrients. White flours require enrichment to return the flour to its unrefined nutritional state.

Hard Flour

Hard flour (also known as bread flour) has a high level of gluten, making it more difficult to use. After baking, products made from hard flour will retain their shape.

Patent Flour

Patent flour is a high-quality, pure flour made from the endosperm’s middle part. The amount of refined flour in patent flour determines whether bread flour is short or medium. (70-80% straight flour), 80-90% straight flour, 90-95% straight flour, and 95% (90-95%).

Rice Flour

Rice flour is great for those who eat a gluten-free diet. It’s naturally gluten-free and much easier to digest than wheat flour. This soft rice flour is made from ground white rice and adds a light, fluffy texture to baked goods and other desserts. It is also used frequently in Asian cuisine.

Soft Flavour

Soft flour is often divided into pastry flour and cake flour. It is lower in gluten than hard flour and gives baked goods a finer texture.

Straight Flour

Flour in which the germ and bran have been removed from 100% of the wheat kernel

Unbleached Flour

Unbleached flour refers to flour that has been naturally aged, giving it its off-white colour. This flour has a more dense, grainier texture, providing more structure to baked goods.

Glossary

Ash Content

The ash content of the flour is determined by heating it to the point that all moisture and organic material has burned off. Ash (the non-combustible inorganic minerals) can then be revealed. The darker the finished product will be, the more ash is in the flour. Whole wheat flour, for example, has a high amount of ash, while white flour has much less.

Gluten

Gluten is a protein compound found in wheat products that give rise to the dough and helps it keep its shape throughout baking. You will get chewier products if you use more refined gluten (think bagels and pizza), while soft baked goods like pastries can be made with less refined gluten.

High gluten

High gluten flour has a higher percentage of protein than other flour. High gluten flour has a refined texture, making it chewier and more elastic than other flours. High gluten flour can make bagels, pizza crusts, flatbreads and artisan bread.

Gluten-Free

High gluten flour has a lower percentage of protein than other flour. Low gluten flour is often unrefined or minimally refined. This makes baked goods delicate and tender. Low gluten flour can be used to bake pastries, cakes, cupcakes and other light, flaky confections.

Medium Gluten

Medium gluten flour is a mix of low- and high-protein flour. It can be used for almost any purpose. Medium gluten flour can make pasta, cookies and quick bread. It can also be used as a thickener in soups and sauces.

Malt

After grains were soaked in water, they sprouted and were then dried with hot air to stop them from germinating. “Malting” is a process that develops enzymes to convert starches from grains into sugars and proteins for the yeast used. Malted barley flours high in protein are used to make yeast bread and other baked goods.

Moisture Content

A flour sample is heated in the oven to determine its moisture content. Then, the weight loss during heating is measured. This percentage is the moisture content. This percentage can indicate the quality of flour and its storability. High moisture flour (above 14.5%) supports mould and bacteria growth. Low moisture flour is less susceptible to deterioration and will last longer in storage.

pH level

The pH level refers to the acidity and alkalinity of a solution. The pH level of pure water is 7. A pH of 7 is pure water. Solutions with a pH lower than 7 are acidic (e.g. lemon juice, which has a pH of about 2), while solutions with a higher pH than 7 are basic or alkaline (e.g. ammonia, which has a Ph of around 11).

Protein Content

The structure and texture of your final baked goods will depend on the flour you use. Higher protein flours will result in harder, stronger bread. The flour’s protein content will determine its softness, making it ideal for baking cookies and pie crusts.

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