The type of flour you use to bake or cook can make a big difference in the outcome. For those of you that don’t know there are many more types of flour other than All-Purpose flour and Wheat flour or just simply are curious to know more about the different flours you see at the super market, this article is for you. For the purpose of keeping this post easy to understand, I’ll focus on the most common and readably available types of flour.
So really, what are the differences between all the types of flours?
Their protein content.
The protein content determines the amount of gluten, in the end translating to their elasticity. The higher the protein content the “chewier” the product. Bread dough uses flours that are higher in protein contents so that once you mix everything together the gluten that is formed grabs the yeast gasses, which in the end once baked, gives it the air pockets and more chewy texture.
The texture for a cake, on the other hand, should be light and not chewy, therefore needing a flour that is low in its protein(gluten) content.
The exception to this rule is Semolina flour, made from durum wheat, which is really high in protein yet does not give an elastic outcome and is perfect to make pasta and cous cous.
In order from most elastic, Highest Protein content (better for bread) to least elastic, Lowest Protein content (better for cake)
Whole Wheat Flour: The richest of the flours in terms of nutrients and fiber because it is made from all parts of the wheat kernel. 12%-14% protein content
Refined and All-Purpose Flour (White): Is made from wheat kernels without the bran and germ making it contain less nutrients and fiber. 10%-12% protein content
Self-Rising Flour: Is made of All-Purpose Flour plus salt and yeast. Don’t get confused with this addition, it’s not the same yeast used for baking breads. 8-11% protein content
Cake Flour: Is a very fine milled flour that is best for cakes since it gives for a light and fine crumb. 5-8% protein content