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Different Types of Wheat Flour for Baking by Duane Stillions

by Duane Stillions

Unless you have an allergy to it, you will likely use flours made from wheat when baking. The consistency and processing of such flour varies depending upon the intended use. Four common types of wheat flour are bread, cake, all-purpose, and pastry.

Bread Flour

This flour is 12 to 14 percent protein, a high amount that works well in conjunction with yeast, which helps dough to rise. The wheat used to make this type of flour tends to be hard and includes strong gluten, a kind of protein. To improve the texture of products baked with bread flour, manufacturers generally do not bleach the material, and they add ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

Cake Flour

This type of flour serves bakers well for sweet recipes because it can retain the rise even with an abundant amount of sugar. Cake flour is 8 to 10 percent protein, the smallest quantity among wheat flours. While one can substitute all-purpose flour for this ingredient, using true cake flour offers the advantage of a baked good that sets quickly and allows the fat (butter, margarine, shortening, etc.) to distribute more evenly in a batter.

All-purpose Flour

The most versatile wheat flour, this option may be utilized in a variety of recipes, including muffins, biscuits, cakes, breads, cookies, pies, and more. Stocking all-purpose flour at home saves an amateur baker from having to maintain a collection of specialized flours. This ingredient may also be used in gravies, or for other dishes that require a thickening agent.

Pastry Flour

Generally not available in a regular supermarket, this flour is 9 to 10 percent protein and works best in quick breads, brownies, cookies, and other sweet baked goods. Some home bakers create their own pastry flour by mixing all-purpose flour with cake flour in a ratio of two to one. This ingredient may be purchased online in whole wheat or white varieties.

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