Monday, February 23, 2009

All about flour.

I have had a lot of inquiry regarding the different types of flour that is available on the market and what type is used for different baking needs. I thought this would be a good topic for "Hints".

I use cake flour in my baking. Mainly because that is what my mother used and a lot of what I do is based on her and my grandmother's recipes. One does what one knows. But for those who have not baked from scratch on a regular basis or does not have a baking standard you might find this informative.

Generally the cake recipe will specify what type of flour to use, but even then, it's not always easy to decide which brand to use. There are several types of flour on the market, but they're not all the same. Flour can be made from many different grains, nuts or even some kinds of vegetables.

The main difference between baking flours is the amount of gluten that is in them. Bread flour contains a relatively high amount of gluten, which makes for more "elastic and chewy breads. Pastry flour is best for making pastries, pie crusts and biscuits. Cake flour contains the least amount of gluten and produces light, tender cakes.

The three types of flour defined:

* All purpose flour: is an equal mix of cake and bread flours. All purpose flour comes either bleached on non-bleach, either of which works fine in cake batters. This is known as plain flour and would be the type to use when your recipe simply says "Flour".

* Cake flour: has the least amount of gluten of all wheat flours and contains soft, high starch wheat, making it the best choice for light, fluffy cakes such as angel food and sponge cakes.

* Self-rising flour: is an all purpose flour to which a leavening agent has been added in the form of baking powder and salt. Self-rising flour is generally available at the market in the baking aisle. If you can not find it you can mix your own at home: One cup of all purposer plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder plus 1/2 ts salt.

I really don't see the need to make this up because when you bake using the all purpose flour you are going to add salt and your leavening agent as called for in the recipes.

I hope this was helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions.


  1. This was very helpful, Rose! Thanks so much for posting this valuable information. I really enjoy your hints and tips. :)

  2. This is extremely helpful Rose. I just bought pastry flour for the first time. I was going to make banana muffins with it tomorrow but it doesn't sound like that would be the best choice. Thank so much for breaking it down for us. I will definitely be referring to this in the future!! Hope all is well with you!

  3. Are you secretly that baking instructor in my old culinary school :) kidding...I am glad you posted this, many people do not have a clue...They just grab flour and run sometimes...

  4. Thank you Rosie!!I always learn something from you!

  5. Very interesting facts Rose. Thank you for sharing them!

  6. I learned about cake flour a couple of years ago - you'd think I would have known. Too many flours, so little time. : )

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