pot of flour with a jar of milk

Which Flour Should I Use? | 12 Types of flours

Different types of flours

Common Flours

1.All-purpose flour

All-purpose flour (not to be confused with plain flour) is the most commonly used flour. We probably all have this flour sitting in our kitchen cupboards. All-purpose flour is a mixture of soft and hard wheat and it the most adaptable flour. It has a protein content of around 10-12 percent and this is where all-purpose flour and plain flour differ as plain flour has less protein content.

Common uses include: cookies, muffins, bread, pie crust, pancakes, pizza dough, pasta

2.Cake flour

The amount of gluten that you can built up into a dough depends on its protein content. Cake flour has a very low protein content in comparison to other flours, around 5-8 percent. This is great for softer baked goods as there will be less gluten development. This is because more gluten= tougher dough! When compared to all-purpose flour, cake flour is able to absorb more liquids and sugars, as a result your cakes will turn out beautifully moist.

Common uses include: sponge cakes, muffins,biscuits

3.Pastry flour

This flour’s is around 8-9 percent, which lies in between cake flour and all-purpose flour.

Common uses include: pie crusts, tarts

4.Bread flour

With a large protein content of 12-14% Bread Flour is the strongest of these flours. As strong gluten is required to make bread rise properly Bread flour is great for yeasted bread recipes. If you do decide to use bread flour  it will give you more volume.

Common uses include: pretzels, yeast breads, pizza dough, bagels

5.Self-rising flour

I’ve always thought that using self-rising flour saves time. That is because self-rising flour has baking powder and salt added into it during the milling process. Containing soft wheat, this flour has a protein content of 8-9 percent. You could also choose to make your own by combining 1 cup(225g) of pastry flour with 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/4 tsp of salt. However, do not be tempted to always use it as a substitute to other flours, as the outcome of your baked goods could be affected.

Common uses include: scones, biscuits, pancakes

6.Whole Wheat Flour

is the roughest of them all. Containing the entirety of the wheat kernel, whole wheat flour is rich in fibre containing important nutrients like potassium, magnesium and selenium.

Common uses include: bread, (whilst the refined versions of whole wheat flour are used for muffins, scones, etc..)


Gluten-free Flours

1.Coconut Flour

is produced from dried, defatted coconut meat (In case you were wondering what coconut meat is: Coconut meat is the rich white lining which is contained within the shell of a coconut.)

Coconut Flour is gluten-free, high in fibre and low in carbs. It has an enjoyable flavour which is  slightly nutty and not too sweet also does not have an overpoweringly strong “coconut” taste. It provides more protein than wheat flour and a lot  more fibre, (mostly the healthy soluble type). Due to its high fibre content coconut flour absorbs  a lot  more liquid than other flours. Because of this, the more coconut flour you use, the more liquid and eggs you will need.

2.Arrowroot Flour

perfectly fits a gluten free diet and is a popular replacement of wheat flours! This unique  flour is made from ground roots, and has no taste or scent. This makes it great to use as a thickening agent for sauces, soups, as well as  baked goods like cakes and cookies without affecting the aroma or flavour.

Historically, arrowroot has been used for its medicinal properties, here are a few:

  •  Stimulation of immune cells (therefore boosting your immune system)
  • Supports healthy digestion
  • Promotes blood circulation
  • Promotes good sleep
  • May also aid weight loss

3.Amaranth Flour

is a protein rich flour and surprisingly it is gluten free. Amaranth flour is a leafy spinach-like plant that produces grains, which are ground into flour.

Due to its high protein content, Amaranth Flour is great for baking. On the other hand, Amaranth flour is not an excellent substitute to all-purpose flour but could be a good substitute    for other types of flours.

4.Barley Flour

 has a much lower gluten content than wheat ,therefore, it is used for baking breads. However, the rich nutty flavour of Barley Flour makes it an excellent thickening agent for stews, sauces and soups. When combined with other gluten-free flours Barley Flour works well. It adds a unique flavour to cakes, biscuits and pastries which require low gluten flour.

5.Brown Rice Flour

 is also gluten free option. Obtained by milling unpolished brown rice (still containing both the bran and germ). Brown Rice Flour  is rich in fibre and contains a lot more nutrients in   comparison to White Rice Flour(which is gluten free). The rough texture of this flour can be slightly grainy, resulting in heavier baked goods with a nutty aftertaste.Because of its heavy nature, Brown Rice Flour is often combined with other flours.

Flours you may not know:

1.Almond flour

Since I found Erin Jeanne McDowell ‘flourless chocolate chip cookie recipeAlmond flour has become a great alternative to all-purpose when baking my cookies. This flour is made by blanching almonds, boiling them in water and removing the skin, them grinding and sifting into fine flour. Almond flour is low in carbs and contains healthy fats and fibres. For example, almond flour offers more protein, healthy fat, and vitamin E than white flour and can be used for a range of things.

Common uses include: Pancakes,Scones,Pasta,Gluten-free cookies,Macarons, Almond cake,Brownies.

2.Peanut Flour

Peanut flour is made by grinding roasted peanuts into a thick paste, then pressing out almost all of the oil and then it is further ground into a fine powder which is suitable for cooking.

Peanut Flour made from lightly roasted peanuts will only have a slight peanut flavour, on the other hand, the flour obtained from dark-roasted peanuts will give food a more pronounced peanut flavour. It can be added to smoothies for a protein boost and a thicker texture. Peanut flour does not form gluten like wheat flours, therefore it is better used when combined with wheat flours or gluten-free flour mixes.


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