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Types of flour and their uses

Joan Younce, Extension Educator, Health and Human Sciences and Kosciusko County Extension Director | Jun 4, 2012, 12:11 p.m.

When shopping for flour for your baking needs you may get confused at all the different types that are available. The following may help you decide what type you need.

White flour is the finely ground endosperm of the wheat kernel. The germ and the bran have been removed so the nutritional value is somewhat reduced. Flour is enriched with some vitamins and minerals but the fiber is not added back in. White flour is what we commonly refer to as “all-purpose flour.” It gives good results for most baked products.

Bread flour is white flour that is a blend of high-protein wheat varieties and has great gluten strength and higher protein content than all-purpose flour. This type of flour is milled mostly for commercial use but is found in many grocery stores. The increased gluten is what gives breads their stability in rising and helps to maintain cell structure.

Cake flour is very fine, textured and silky and is milled from softer wheat varieties. It has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour. It is used for cakes, cookies, crackers and some pastry. Cake flour has more starch and less protein which keeps cakes and pastries tender and delicate. This flour works very well for angel food cakes.

Self-rising flour is a convenience product which already has the salt and leavening added to it. It is commonly used in biscuits and quick breads but is not recommended for yeast breads. One cup of self-rising flour contains 1 tsp. baking powder and tsp. salt. Self-rising flour can be substituted for all-purpose flour by reducing salt and baking powder in your recipe according to these proportions.

Semolina is the coarsely ground endosperm of durum wheat. This is hard spring wheat with a high gluten content and golden color. This type of flour is used to make macaroni, lasagna noodles and spaghetti. This isn’t usually available in most supermarkets.

Whole wheat flour is flour milled using all the parts of the wheat kernel. The fiber content is higher than the other flours and is healthier for you. Since whole wheat flour contains the entire wheat kernel, it needs to be refrigerated if you don’t use it too often. The oils from the wheat kernel can become rancid over time. Whole grains are encouraged for a healthier diet.

Any recipe calling for all-purpose flour may use half whole wheat and half all-purpose. If you want your product to be 100% whole wheat, substitute 1 cup of whole wheat flour minus 1 tablespoon for every cup of all-purpose flour in the original recipe.

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