Common Types of Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour is flour ground from the whole grain, without the bran being removed first. Not removing the bran can interfere with gluten* development, so sometimes additional gluten is added to this flour.
Semolina flour and durum flour are made from hard durum wheat with a high gluten content. These flours are used to make pasta, noodles, couscous, and cereals.
Graham flour is a coarsely ground whole wheat flour.
It's used to make graham crackers and is also used in baking. Whole wheat flour can be substituted, but the texture will be changed.
All-purpose flour is a mixture of high gluten hard wheat flour and low gluten soft wheat flour. Because it is a mixture of the two, it can be used to make a variety of breads, cookies, cakes, and pastries. It's also used to thicken sauces and gravies and as a coating or breading for fried or sauteed foods.
Bread flour contains more hard wheat flour and therefore more gluten, which makes it excellent for making breads, particularly yeast-risen breads.
Cake flour is a finely textured low gluten flour made from soft wheat. It has a high starch content and is used for cakes and pastries. To make 1 cup of cake flour, remove 2 tablespoons of flour and replace with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
Pastry flour has more hard wheat flour than cake flour, but less than all-purpose flour.
It is a high starch flour like cake flour, but it has a bit more gluten and is suitable for cookies and crackers and biscuits. The choice of flours for these products is based mostly on individual taste, as all-purpose, cake, and pastry flours can be and are used for the same products.
Special Types of Wheat Flour
If your flour is not labeled "stone-ground", then it is probably "steel-ground." Although there is considerable disagreement on the issue, some people believe that grinding flour with steel rollers generates heat which is destructive to the wheat germ and causes the flour to lose many vitamins and enzymes. They say that the cooler stone-grinding process allows the flour to retain more of the germ and nutrients.
Self-Rising flour is a convenience flour that has the correct proportions of baking powder and salt already mixed into it so that the user does not have to add them. One cup of self-rising flour contains 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Bolted flour, or reduced bran wheat flour, is a type of whole wheat flour in which nearly 80 percent of the bran has been removed.
Enriched flours are simply processed flours that have had nutrients such as vitamins and minerals added back to them to replace those lost in processing.
Gluten flour is produced from hard wheat that has been treated to remove the starch. It is high in gluten and is sometimes added to other flours to increase their gluten content.
Whole wheat pastry flour is a low-protein flour produced from soft wheat and it has a fine texture and a high starch content, but with some of the bran and germ portions of the wheat kernel left in.
*Gluten is a protein found in wheat and some other grains. It provides elasticity to dough and gives bread and other baked products shape and texture.
Common Flour Weights
The weights below are the usual weights for baking, but keep in mind the weight of dry ingredients is variable. For instance, if you sift all-purpose flour into a cup then level it off, you'll get about 4 ounces. If you scoop by dipping the measuring cup into the bin, you'll get roughly 5 ounces or more depending on whether or not you stir it first.
If your cookbook or recipe do not give weights or directions on how to measure the flour, the chart below should be helpful.
|All-Purpose Flour:||1 cup||4.5 ounces||128g|
|Bread Flour:||1 cup||4.5 ounces||128g|
|Whole Wheat Flour:||1 cup||4.5 ounces||128g|
|Pastry Flour:||1 cup||4 ounces||113g|
|Cake Flour:||1 cup||4 ounces||113g|
|Self-Rising Flour:||1 cup||4.5 ounces||128g|