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How many types of flour are there?

Flour plays a major role in the bakery industry. Flour provides the structure of baked products and it also contributes to the color, texture, and flavor. Foods such as bread, cakes, cookies, pastries, tortillas, and pasta, are made of flour. It is the main element of these foods. But a lot of people or bakers might be confused about, “how many types of flours are there? So, let’s dig into flour and know how many flours do exist in the food industry.

how many types of flour are there?
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What is flour?

To put it briefly, flour is a powder that comes from grinding wheat kernels. Wheat is the most important cereal of all grains. A milling process helps flour get ready from wheat. Usually, flour is made from wheat although any grain can be made into flour, including rice, oats, or corn. We can get the best quality flour from good quality wheat.

How many types of flours are there?

In the baking industry, bakers usually use two primary types of white wheat flours:

  • Hard flour or Strong Flour
  • Weak Flour or Soft Flour

Hard flour comes from hard wheat. This type of flour is mainly used for high–structured products like yeast products, choux pastries, and puff pastries.

Soft flour comes from soft wheat. Because of the less protein content, this flour is mainly used for low –structured products like biscuits, cakes, sponges, and short and sweet paste.

There are so many kinds of flour existing in the food industry. Here are details of some flours given below:

All-Purpose Flour

All-purpose flour is the best choice for most types of baking in the food industry. It is also known as general-purpose flour or family flour. It is made with a combination of “soft” low-protein wheat and “hard” high-protein wheat. This combination provides the structure needed to support the other ingredients during baking and also produces baked goods that are soft and tender. It is white, fine when to touch, and is less lumpy than soft flour. All-purpose flour is blended during milling to achieve a protein content of 10-11% percent. 

Because of medium protein flour, it can be used for all baking purposes. As it can be used for all baking purposes, we can make pieces of bread, pies, pastry, and as a thickening agent, much more. 

There are two types of all-purpose flour: bleached and unbleached. Bleaching makes the flour slightly acidic. This acidity interacts with the leaving agent, helping baked goods to rise. Unbleached flours are preferred by many bakers for making bread. Baked goods made with unbleached flour also tend to be darker and crisper. Cookies made with unbleached flour spread more than cookies made with bleached flour. The choice of bleached or unbleached flour depends on the finished texture and appearance that you prefer in the baked goods you’re making.

Graham Flour

Whole-wheat flour is also called graham or entire wheat Flour which contains gluten and the compact of the wheat kernel in its original proportion. 

Graham Flour serves as a good source of fiber which is higher in protein. It is similar to whole-wheat flour which is made from whole grain, but graham flour is ground more tastelessly. This is used to make graham crackers and pie crusts. Graham flour is named after Sylvester Graham. It is usually found in the USA and the milling concept of this flour is exciting.

Bread Flour

Bread flour is also known as strong or hard flour which is made with high-protein wheat. This higher protein helps to rise and to form its shape and structure. 

Strong flour has 12-14% gluten content. It is not recommended for general baking because of its higher protein. But this higher protein, helps the dough to rise and retain gasses as it bakes, resulting in greater volume and better texture of the bakery products such as breads, rolls, and other sweet yeast-raised products. Bread flour has a coarse texture-gritty, sandy, dry, and granular. It has a creamy color and does not usually lump when passed together.

bread flour

Wheat Flour

Wheat flour is the main ingredient in many baked goods. The proteins and starch are in flour. The flour is cream to brown as it has the bran grounded with it.


Brown Flour

This flour has a high percentage of germ and for that, it is so much nutritious. It is almost 85 percent of the grain millet, where some amount of bran has been extracted.

Strong Flour

Strong flour is also known as baker’s flour. It is milled from hard flour, so we can say it is high protein flour. The strong flours absorb more water than weak flours, as gluten can absorb twice its weight of water. 

This flour is used for products that will have a high rise in the oven such as yeast bread, choux pastry, and puff pastry.

 

Weak Flour

In the baking industry, this flour helps to produce products like cookies and cakes, and sponges. Weak flour is also known as soft flour or cake flour. As the name suggests, this flour has less gluten in it.

Cake Flour

Cake flour is soft wheat flour or weak flour which contains 7-9% percent protein. This type of flour is best used in producing light, fluffy, and tender cake bases or biscuits and it is whiter compared with bread and all-purpose flour. This is a bleached flour that contains “softer” or low-protein wheat than all-purpose flour. 

Low protein content makes this type of flour produce soft products like cakes, pastries, cookies, and other products like noodles. It easily compacts when you squeezed due to its fine texture and is identified by its sleek, velvety, and smooth feel. Cake flour can be unsuitable for certain tasks like baking bread.

Pastry Flour

Pastry flour is one of the most common types of flour used in baking. It has 8-10% protein content. Pastry Flour is enriched and bleached. It is a very finely ground polished flour of soft wheat kernel which is commonly used for making pie crusts, pancakes, and many bakery goods.

Self-Rising Flour

Self-rising flour is commonly used to make afternoon cookies called scones. This flour is usually of medium strength and contains baking powder in proportion. It is much more convenient for those who wish to prepare products that use baking powder. 

Since the flour contains moisture, this can react with the baking powder lessening the effect of baking powder.

 

Corn Flour

Corn flour contains 7-8 percent protein on a dry basis. It has a form of gluten. Corn flour is more finely ground corn. It is made by grounding the white heart or the germ of the corn kernel. 

This is one of the widely used thickening agents. It helps the baked goods to give crispness. It can also be added to strong flour to turn it into weak flour. It is starch, not flour. The custard powder we find in commercials is also made with corn flour.

 

Rye Flour

Rye flour does not have as much gluten in it. Rye flour dough is quite heavy and sticky. It is often used in combination with wheat flour for bread. The bread which uses only rye flour is denser and chewier. Russian and Scandinavian bread is made of rye flour.

Spelt Flour

Spelt flour is made from spelt which is a species of wheat that is a good source of vitamin B. It is quite popular in European countries such as Germany, France, and Switzerland.

It is purer than most modern wheat and when it is in whole-grain form, it provides more essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

 

Rice Flour

Rice flour is free of gluten and has about 6.5-7 percent proteins. It is finely ground polished rice with a similar texture to corn starch, usually used as a thickening agent. 

For people who do not tolerate gluten, rice flour is an acceptable substitute for wheat, barley, rye, or oat flour.

Barley Flour

Barley flour is a flour prepared from dried and ground barley which is used to prepare barley bread and other bread, such as flat bread and yeast bread. This flour has low gluten content with a mild flavor.

Maize Flour

Maize flour is made from maize corn after it gets grounded. It’s very popular in Mexico. There is no difference between maize flour and corn flour. This flour is also free from gluten.

Arrowroot Flour

Arrowroot flour is finely milled from the arrowroot plant. Arrowroot flour is a less common gluten- and grain-free powder. 

It’s a multipurpose flour and can be used as a thickener or mixed with almond or coconut for bread and dessert recipes. It has the same properties as corn flour and the uses are very similar. It is widely used for making glazes.

Buckwheat Flour

The buckwheat plant is a pseudo cereal, not a grain. It is a good source of dietary fiber and contains essential amino acids. 

Buckwheat flour has distinctive grayish brown color with an earthy bitter taste. It is used to make classical preparations such as Russian blinis, pancakes, and French Galettes.

Pulse Flour

Pulse flours are made from pulses, which are the edible seeds of legumes, and flours for use in gluten-free bread.

Pulses are part of the legume family. Beans, lentils, chickpeas and split peas are the most common types of pulses. Chickpeas flours are sold in commercially which is also pulse flour.

Chestnut Flour

Chestnut is a smooth-shelled nut, which is usually roasted and ground into flour. Chestnut flour contains high-quality proteins with essential amino acids, dietary fiber, and a low amount of fat and is also naturally sweet and gluten-free. 

It’s more nutritious than many other alternative flours to bake goods. As it is powdery and dry as regular flour, it can sometimes be used as a complete substitute in simple recipes like pancakes, and pie crust.

Quinoa Flour

Quinoa flour is awesome for baking because gluten-free, fine powder consists of dried quinoa seeds or quinoa flakes. Quinoa flour is high in protein and high in fiber also. 

It is mainly found in China, but its popularity is catching up with the western world as well.

Soybean Flour

Soy flour contains 50 percent protein which is a fine powder obtained from grinding roasted soybeans. It is high fat and high protein flour that has a strong distinctive nutty flavor. It is usually used to boost the protein content of baked goods. 

Soy flour cannot form gluten and does not contain starch. The uses of soy flour affect the taste of baked goods in large amounts and cause them to brown quickly in color.

Flaxseed Flour

Flaxseed flour can be used in baked goods as nutritious components. It is an ancient seed that has been used in medicines from time immemorial. 

It is used whole roasted or ground into flour. It is believed to be a good cure for diabetic patients and is believed to lower cholesterol levels.

Sunflower Seed Flour

Sunflower seed flour is exactly what it sounds like to hear. Flour made from sunflower seeds is incredibly high in plant-powered protein. By grinding up sunflower seeds until they reach a fine, powdery texture which is called sunflower seed flour. 

It can be combined with other kinds of gluten-free flour as it has a very nutty flavor. It’s a good flour alternative to use in gluten-free baking. Moreover, it has the advantage of being nut-free and for this, it is preferable to almond flour.

Triticale Flour

Triticale flour is a hybrid flour of wheat and rye which is low in gluten. It is a healthy grain and has a higher protein content. The grain is larger and longer than wheat grain.

What are the differences between hard and soft flour?

Some differences between hard and soft flour:

  1. Strong flours require more water to make a dough of proper consistency. Weak flours have relatively low water abs
  2. Because of high water absorption strong flour can give a high yield of bread. A weak flour gives a lower bread yield.
  3. Strong flour contains a relatively high percentage of gluten-forming proteins. On the other hand, weak flour has a relatively low protein content.
  4. Bread baked from strong flours have a well-risen loaf, good crumb grain, and softer texture. Weaker flours give bread with poor loaf volume, crumb grain, and poor texture.

How to store flour perfectly?

Storage of flour: If moisture is allowed to get into the flour, it may cause it to become worse to use. Sometimes, the flour will itself absorb moisture, resulting in the formation of inferior products. For proper storage of the flour, the following things should be kept in mind –

  1. Store in a clean and dry area which must be hygienic.
  2. The storage area should be well ventilated.
  3. Avoid insect infestation.
  4. Store away from odorous materials and areas prone to infestation
  5. Flour bags should be piled off the floor on wooden boards.
  6. Circulation of air all around the piles.
  7. Should be kept away from direct sunlight.
  8. Palletize properly to avoid caking.
  9. Temperature of the storage area should be 19 –240 C.
  10. To avoid mistakes when selecting the correct flour for use, containers should be clearly labeled with their name.

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