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.

This guide will help you find the best flour to suit your cooking needs. This glossary will help you understand terms such as ash content, pH level and brominated.

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 the milling process.

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 Flour

Bleached flour refers to refined flour with the germ and bran removed. It has also been treated with a whitening agent. This flour can be artificially aged with a bleaching or maturing agent or both. 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 isn’t baked at the right temperature or long enough.

Enriched Flour

The enrichment of flour 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 middle part of the endosperm. The amount of straight flour in patent flour determines whether bread flour is short or medium patent. (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 Flavor

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 made from 100% of the wheat kernel after the bran and germ have been removed.

Unbleached Flour

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

Glossary

Ash Content

The flour ash content 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, the more ash is present 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 that makes it chewier and more elastic than other flours. High gluten flour can make bagels, pizza crusts, flatbreads and artisan loaves of bread.

Low Gluten

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 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 loaves of bread. It can also be used as a thickening agent for soups or sauces.

Malt

After grains were soaked in water, they sprouted and dried with hot air to stop them from germinating. This process is called “malting,” It develops enzymes to convert starches from grains into sugars. It also breaks down proteins so that yeast can use them. Malted barley flours high in protein make yeast pieces of 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 the flour and its storability. High moisture flour (above 14.5%) supports mold 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 (such a lemon juice with a pH of about 2). In comparison, solutions with a higher pH than 7 are basic or alkaline (such a solution containing ammonia with a PH of around 11).

Protein Content

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

 

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