Well, assume your new craft is baking. In that event, chances are you require enlightening yourself with all kinds of ingredients, with flour being the most significant. Baking quality stuff can get you other acquaintances and score brownie points with the mother-in-law. Then you get into action and realize that so many flours are available and applied in different forms. Consumers think all-purpose one will do all jobs. Well, not exactly.

Let me start by clarifying the all-purpose flour made from wheat grains after removing the brown outer. It gets milled, refined, and bleached. You can use it in baking pies, cakes, and other delectable desserts. In classic kitchens, flour is also used as a thickening agent for sauces and fillings, although much less used in modern cooking. Unlike whole-wheat flour, it has a grainy and powdery consistency. When processed from the wheat grain’s starch, they remove nutrients, making the wheat varietal much more appealing for health. It may contain chemicals like benzoyl peroxide and alloxan, added during bleaching. It has a medium level of protein content (about 9 to 11 percent).

Different flours have specific protein levels, and higher protein means more gluten. However, more gluten can be a positive or a negative, depending on the usage. While purchasing flour, make sure that the color is white and with no yellowish tinge. Store in cool, dark, dry places and in containers where the flour can breathe. Moisture and damp environments breed insects.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the other types you might encounter while baking. For peace of mind, always stick with the recipe list as the flour to use. Following someone else’s testing prohibits you from making severe and dense mistakes.

Bread flour

Bread flour has about 12 to 12.7 percent protein, high as far as flour goes. Protein levels differ from one brand to another, and some companies will list the labeled percentage. The high protein content allows gluten development and gives the bread an excellent structure. For the perfect baguette of rustic sourdough, you’ll need bread flour. Keep a bag in your pantry. When making chocolate chip cookies, incorporate half of the bread flour with the all-purpose for the right chewiness.

Cake flour

Here, the protein content is about 7 to 9 percent, with a superfine consistency, and sifted before packaged. The low-protein range, when baking a cake, offers a fluffy and airy product.

For a flour with lower protein content, you must use pastry flour. It is not always ready to find, in local markets, because of the minimal demand available online. We use pastry flour in professional bakeries and 50 pounds bags. I don’t think you require that much. In my experience is the most refined flour to use for excellent pie crust.

Self-rising flour

There is nothing unusual about this flour. It’s all-purpose flour with the addition of baking powder and salt. You should not use it unless specifically requested in the recipe, because it may affect the formulation. You are mostly going to use for biscuits, muffins, pancakes, and anything soft and airy. If you have little use for it, but occasionally you would like to try something new, you need not stock up. Just make it yourself by adding 1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to one cup of all-purpose flour.

Whole wheat flour

Wheat flour differs from white flour because the latter has the germ and bran removed during processing, whereas wheat flour contains the entire grain. That makes wheat bread different from white bread. Wheat flour has more fiber, and perhaps a health bonus, but not tastier if we might think. When buying stick with a quality brand, you trust and focus on heritage grains, which are rich with limited processing.

Gluten-free flour

The gluten movement started about 30 years ago. Today, the trend continues across the land because of the high percentage of celiacs. There is a myth that following a restricted diet without gluten is healthier. Gluten-free means that the flour does not include any wheat in the mix, such as wheat, barley, or rye. Some gluten-free flour includes chickpea, chestnut, lentil, gamut, amaranth, rice, and cornmeal. Working with gluten-free flour presents some difficulties because of the lack of gluten. They often create formulations with starches and other binders. However, there are several pre-mixed brands to choose from the list. The key is to conduct your experiment for a satisfying result.

Other flour varieties

Wholemeal – Made from the whole wheat grain with nothing added or taken away.

Brown – This usually contains about 85% of the original grain. Bran and germ have been removed.

White – This usually contains around 75% of the wheat grain. Most of the bran and wheat germ have been removed during the milling process.

Wheatgerm – This can be white or brown flour with at least 10% added wheatgerm.

Malted wheat grain – This is brown or wholemeal flour with added malted grains.

Stoneground – This is wholemeal flour ground in a traditional way between two stones.

Organic –Produced from grain grown according to organic standards. Growers and millers must be registered and are subject to regular inspections.

Mixes – there is also an increasing range of flours and mixes containing added seeds or a blend of different grains available.

Einkorn – an ancient variety of wheat

Kamut Khorasan – another ancient form of wheat

Spelled – also from an older version of wheat

Couscous – a course, pre-soaked flour made from durum wheat

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