Written by adam on Aug 8, 2006
Types of Flour
Filed Under: Tips
Back on the Scone wagon, I'm spending a lot of time with my hands inside flour. For the particular scones I make, the recipes call for self-rising flour. My wife calls that cheating, to which I say, "Shut up. At least I'm trying. Why don't you get out back and smoke a brisket, baby?"
To that she says that she wouldn't want to mess up my precious grill, and to that I say, "That's true, you are accident prone. Thanks for thinking of me."
And for that, I shall receive a whupping later.
But flour can be quite a mystery if you're standing, bewildered, in the baking aisle of the grocery store. Each one has different properties of proteins and leavening agents, and each has its own special purpose in the kitchen. There are four main types of flour: all-purpose, cake, self-rising, and bread flour. Each has its own special purpose along with certain properties that you need to be aware of when choosing. Yes, I know there are other types of flour like whole wheat, durham, and instant. I'm just trying to cover the basics here ... the big boys.
Also called AP flour, this is the multi-tasker of the flour world, the jack-of-all-trades. It has a medium amount of protein in it, which makes it ideal for most baking purposes. AP flour usually comes in bleached and unbleached varieties.
Pretty much self-explanatory. Bread flour has a high gluten content, which makes it ideal for breads and bread-like things. It's great for making pizza dough and specialty loaf breads. Bread flour sometimes has added barley flour which helps to aid the yeast in rising, plus it has extra additives that increase elasticity (think pizza dough).
As I stated before, my wife calls self-rising flour "cheating." This is because self-rising flour has a leavening agent mixed into it ... baking powder and salt. Self-rising flour is great for pastries such as scones, muffins, and biscuits. Thing about self-rising flour is that you have to be accurate when measuring it in your recipes AND you have to be careful how you use it. For instance, if you make a dough and then the recipe calls for you to dust a pastry board with flour, you shouldn't use self-rising to dust the board. Since it has leavening chemicals in it already, adding more of the self-rising could screw up the ratios and make the end product not exactly what you wanted.
Cake flour is a high-starch, low-protein flour. It is ideal for making cakes, obviously. It is chlorinated to make it slightly acidic which helps set cakes faster and distribute fat more evenly. What more can you say? Cakes used with cake flour set better, rise better, and will be less likely to collapse.
Bleached versus Unbleached
Bleached flour is chlorinated for a couple of reasons: number one, it whitens the flour for aesthetic purposes, but it also matures the flour and conditions the glutens. Unbleached is just that - flour that has not been bleached. This is not to say that unbleached has not been enriched or fortified in any way. It just means that no chlorination has been done.
Source: Baking 911
Responses to "Types of Flour" ...
Thank you for setting me straight here. I'm not an experienced baker but whenever I do take on the task of baking I'm side-tracked by all of the flour choices available. Have there always been so many choices?