Give your baked goods some serious flour power when you use the right type for your baking project. But with so many flours to choose from, the choices can be overwhelming. Sift through our list of common flours and get ready to bake heavenly delights with a soft melt-in-your-mouth texture. That’s the first step to perfectly baked treats—choosing the best flour and treating it according to its protein content. Read on for more flour tips from the baking experts at Ne-Mo’s.
The most commonly used flour for baking, this blend of hard and soft wheat comes bleached or unbleached. Bleached flour speeds up the curing process, which makes it easier to knead out because of its more malleable texture. Bleached flour is best for piecrusts, pancakes, quick breads, and cookies. Unbleached flour goes through a natural bleaching process as it ages and contains more protein than bleached flour. This type of flour is a staple ingredient for a wide range of baked goods, including puff pastry, cream puffs, strudel, and popovers.
Expert tip: All-purpose flour is refined enough that sifting isn’t necessary for common baked goods like muffins, quick breads, cookies, and pie dough. For cakes with a light, delicate texture, like angel food or sponge cake, sifting the flour before baking helps smooth out any lumps that can weight down the batter.
For baked goods with a high ratio of sugar and flour, the fine texture of this soft-wheat flour gives the batter a smooth and even texture. The bleaching process also helps to evenly distribute fat, which results in a batter that will hold its rise and not collapse. This flour is excellent for fine-textured cakes with a fluffy, voluminous body. According to baking expert Martha Stewart, it also works well for cupcakes, scones, biscuits, and muffins.
Also a soft-wheat, pastry flour has a slightly higher protein content than cake flour, which makes it hold its shape while still having a tender crumble. With a balanced amount of gluten, this type of flour works perfectly for most baked goods, especially piecrusts and cookies. For a more rich and dense texture, try pastry flour in whole-wheat, which also adds a nutty flavor to your batter while also providing a healthy amount of fiber. For a light and fluffy mouth-feel, unbleached white pastry flour is the best choice.
Made from hard wheat, this high protein white flour has significantly more gluten that all-purpose flour, which brings a stronger texture to your dough. Bread flour works best in yeast breads because the high level of gluten reacts with the yeast, giving it a chewy and moist consistency.
Also made from hard wheat, durum has an even higher protein content than bread flour, which brings structure and heartiness to noodles. This high gluten flour gives pasta a rough texture, which helps it adhere to sauces while keeping its shape. Also called semolina, durum is the main ingredient for many different kinds of homemade pasta.
Containing the entire grain, whole-wheat flour gives baked goods a denser and heavier texture with its hard-wheat content. Bakers often combine whole-wheat with white flour to give cakes, breads, and muffins a nutty, wholesome flavor and the health benefit of added fiber. For a fluffy and light batter, sift the whole-wheat and white flours together.
White Whole-Wheat Flour
Made with white wheat instead of red, this type of flour contains the entire wheat kernel, giving it the nutrition of whole wheat but with the consistency of all-purpose flour. Substitute this flour in your favorite recipes and enjoy a healthier, more nutritious treat filled with fiber and vitamins.
Dense and gluten-free, almond flour is composed of blanched, skinless almonds that have been finely ground. A small amount of this flour goes a long way in recipes. Add about ¼ cup to your flour mixture for extra moistness and a light almond flavor in your pastry crusts, cookies, and quick breads. For a tasty gluten-free delight, almond flour is perfect for making macarons.
Packed full of nutrients, buckwheat flour adds a hearty texture and an earthy, robust flavor to a variety of treats, including pancakes, blinis, and much more. Gluten free and grain free, buckwheat has more protein content than oats or whole-wheat, plus a high amount of potassium, fiber, and B vitamins. Hoppy and slightly sweet, buckwheat adds a distinctive taste to all sorts of baked goods, such as soufflés, sponge cakes, butter cakes, and biscuits. If you like the flavor, buckwheat tastes great in just about anything.
When you use the best type of flour for every recipe, baking delicious treats is as easy as pie.