Types of Flours

Janet Scott


This is something to keep handy in case you wonder what flour would be best to use and why.

pinch tips: How to Knead Dough




flours varieties

Directions Step-By-Step

All-purpose flour
is made from a blend of high-gluten hard wheat and low-gluten soft wheat. It's a fine-textured flour milled from the inner part of the wheat kernel and contains neither the germ (the sprouting part) nor the bran (the outer coating). U.S. law requires that all flours not containing wheat germ must have niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and iron added. (Individual millers sometimes also add vitamins A and D.) These flours are labeled "enriched."
All-purpose flour comes in two basic forms—bleached and unbleached—that can be used interchangeably. Flour can be bleached either naturally, as it ages, or chemically. Most flour on the market today is presifted, requiring only that it be stirred, then spooned into a measuring cup and leveled off.
Bread flour
is an unbleached, specially formulated, high-gluten blend of 99.8 percent hard-wheat flour, a small amount of malted barley flour (to improve yeast activity) and vitamin C or potassium bromate (to increase the gluten's elasticity and the dough's gas retention). It is ideally suited for yeast breads.
The fuller-flavored whole-wheat flour
contains the wheat germ, which means that it also has a higher fiber, nutritional and fat content. Because of the latter, it should be stored in the refrigerator to prevent rancidity.
Cake or pastry flour
is a fine-textured, soft-wheat flour with a high starch content. It makes particularly tender cakes and pastries.
Self-rising flour
is an all-purpose flour to which baking powder and salt have been added. It can be substituted for all-purpose flour in yeast breads by omitting the salt and in quick breads by omitting both baking powder and salt.
stone-ground flour
is produced by grinding the grain between two slowly moving stones. This process crushes the grain without generating excess heat and separating the germ. Stone-ground flours must usually be purchased in natural food stores, though some large supermarkets also carry them. A flour can range in texture from coarse to extremely soft and powdery, depending on the degree of bolting (sifting) it receives at the mill. Wheat is the most common source of the multitude of flours used in cooking. It contains gluten, a protein that forms an elastic network that helps contain the gases that make mixtures (such as doughs and batters) rise as they bake.
Instant flour
is a granular flour especially formulated to dissolve quickly in hot or cold liquids. It's used mainly as a thickener in sauces, gravies and other cooked mixtures.
Gluten flour
is high-protein, hard-wheat flour treated to remove most of the starch (which leaves a high gluten content). It's used mainly as an additive to doughs made with low-gluten flour (such as rye flour), and to make low-calorie "gluten" breads. All flour should be stored in an airtight container. All-purpose and bread flour can be stored up to 6 months at room temperature (about 70°F). Temperatures higher than that invite bugs and mold. Flours containing part of the grain's germ (such as whole wheat) turn rancid quickly because of the oil in the germ. Refrigerate or freeze these flours tightly wrapped and use as soon as possible
rye flour
Milled from a hardy cereal grass, rye flour contains less gluten (protein) than all-purpose or whole-wheat flour. For that reason, it won't produce a well-risen loaf of bread without the addition of some higher-protein flour. Rye flour is also heavier and darker in color than most other flours, which is why it produces dark, dense loaves. There are several different types of rye flour, the most common of which is medium rye flour, available in most supermarkets. Light or dark rye flours, as well as pumpernickel flour (which is dark and coarsely ground), are available in natural food stores and some supermarkets
Gluten free flours:


brown rice flour
buckwheat flour
corn flour
mesquite flour
millet flour
oat flour
quinoa flour
sorghum flour
sweet potato flour
teff flour


arrowroot flour
potato flour
potato starch
sweet rice flour
tapioca flour
white rice flour


almond flour
chestnut flour
coconut flour
hazelnut flour


fava bean flour
garbanzo bean flour
kinako (roasted soy bean) flour

About this Recipe

Course/Dish: Other Breads