I absolutely love baking. Whether it’s bread, cookies, cakes, pretzels, or anything in between there is just something fun and delicious about baked goods. However, there is a lot of science that goes into baking, and plenty of things to learn. One of the most important things to learn is when to use what kind of flour.
Now, sure, you could probably just keep all-purpose flour around the house and use it for most things just fine, but if you really want your baking to shine, then it might be time to try something a little different and more specialized! There are easily ten to twelve different kinds of flours, but here are seven of the most common kinds of flour:
1. All-purpose flour
Also called white flour, this is unsurprisingly the most common type of flour. If you don’t know what kind of flour you have, then there’s a really good chance that you have all-purpose flour. This type of flour is good for any number of baked goods including bread, cake, pie crust, cookies, and other similar things.
2. Bread flour
Similar to all-purpose flour, bread flour has been optimized for bread baking and generally features more gluten content which results in better yeast breads. As the name indicates, it is best for bread and similar types of baking, and is usually really only used in breadmaker recipes and for commercial use.
3. Cake flour
Much finer and more silky than all-purpose, cake flour is milled from soft wheat and often has a higher starch content than most other types of flour, in order to make cakes more tender. This flour is a little more specialized, but can be made at home easily by adding 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch to 1 cup of flour.
4. Oat flour
Created from ground and crushed oats, this flour is mostly gluten-free, making it popular among those who have to avoid gluten for dietary reasons. Oat flour is a little sweeter than whole flour, so it does require some recipe adjusting. Additionally, because of the lack of gluten additional liquid may be required as otherwise pastries may be crumbly.
5. Pastry flour
Sort of a half-step between cake flour and all-purpose flour, pastry flour is silky and fine but features more cornstarch than cake flour. As the name implies, it is used for a variety of delicate foods like cakes, crackers, cookies, and other products.
6. Self-rising flour
This is a type of all-purpose flour which has and baking powder already added. One cup of self-rising flour includes 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt pre-added. Self-rising flour can be used in most baking recipes by reducing the baking powder and salt in the recipe. Although it’s not recommended for yeast breads, it can be used effectively for biscuits and quick breads.
7. Whole-wheat flour
Whole-wheat flour is created by grinding the entire wheat kernel and often includes bran, which reduces gluten. This lower gluten content often results in denser bread and products. Additionally, different types of wheat and even different brands may have varying degrees of coarseness.