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Glutens Goodness in Flour’s Power

flour typesSo you’ve heard of white, wheat, corn…and maybe a few other flours.  You might not care much about flour but when attempting to bake, the flour you choose can make or break you.

This is where gluten content is key.  Gluten is a sticky, stretchy protein that helps create structure and substance in baked goods.  So, for bread a high gluten content is desirable, for pastries (which should be delicate), a low gluten content is desirable.

Type of Flour Uses, Tips, and Tricks
All Purpose Refined (white) blend of hard wheat (high gluten) and soft wheat (low gluten – about 10% protein overall.  Often fortified with calcium, vitamins A and D.  Wide range of uses in baking and bread making. Very versatile (hence the name “all purpose”).
Almond Made from blanched, ground almonds.  Adds a nutty taste and moisture to pastries – no gluten, not meant to be used in breads.  Very short shelf life.
Amaranth Complete protein – can use in breads for up to 25% of the flour content.  Good as a thickening agent in stews and sauces
Barley Adds fiber to baked goods; blend with higher protein flour for baked goods.  Great as a thickener in soups, stews, and sauces.
Bread Hard wheat (high gluten) flour – up to 15% protein.  Only used for making bread (hence the name).
Buckwheat Adds a hearty, earthy flavor and color to breads, pasta, and pancakes.  Gluten free.
Cake/Pastry Finely ground flour made from soft wheat (low gluten, about 7% protein).  Good for cakes and pastries (hence the name).
Corn Used in bread making  or blend with other flours to make a batter or dough (doesn’t contain gluten).  Grind corn meal to make corn flour at home.
Flaxseed Very high in omega-3s – not used as a flour substitute; good as a fat or egg substitute
Gluten Hard wheat (high gluten) with most of the starch removed.  Much higher gluten content than all-purpose; increases strength and rising power of dough.  Blend with low-gluten for bread.
Graham Coarse flour with a dense texture.  May substitute for wheat flour but may need to increase baking time
Oat Has a dense but nutty texture.  Blend with other flours for baked foods that need to rise (gluten free)
Peanut Made from crushed, and fully or partially defatted peanuts.  Adds nutty flavor to pastries and baked goods; not for breads.
Potato Great as a thickener and helps bind/retain moisture.  Great for homemade patties (of all kinds)
Rice (brown) Used like white flour but has a grittier texture.  Gluten free.
Rice (white) Made from high starch, short grain white rice.  Good for pastries, pie crusts.  Gluten free.
Rye Heavy, dark flour with less gluten than all-purpose (so it produces a heavy, dense bread).  Mix with high-protein flour for best results.
Self-rising All purpose with added salt and baking soda – convenience flour (and has a shorter shelf life)
Semolina Coarsely ground, hard wheat (high gluten) flour.  Used for making pasta, couscous, and puddings.  Other varieties include rice or corn semolina
Sorghum Mild flavor, high antioxidants.  Wide range of uses (but it is gluten free)
Soy Higher in protein, lower in carb than all-purpose; reduces fat absorption in fried batter or dough.  Can use soy flour to replace up to 25% of the total flour
Spelt High in protein with a nutty flavor; can be substituted for wheat flour.
White whole wheat Deceptively named flour.  Made from white wheat, but is, indeed a whole grain.  Use in place of wheat flour for a lighter color and milder taste.
100% whole wheat Made from red wheat (wheatberries/high gluten).  Has more fiber than other flours and can be used in combination with all-purpose.  If replacing for all-purpose, will result in a heavier texture.


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