There are several different types of flour but what’s the difference between them all? Here’s a quick blog on the main types of flour, enjoy! Want more? Our online baking masterclass includes a step by step baking video, 27 page workbook with recipes, tips, tricks and information. You’ll have instant access to the class, just click here to buy.
Plain Flour is made by grinding raw cereal grains and does not contain any raising agents. It is used in most bread recipes and also some cakes and biscuit recipes. Bakes which require a rise will need some form of raising agent to be added e.g. baking powder. If you don’t have any self raising flour you can add baking powder to your plain flour (as a rough guide you can use approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder per 120g of flour). However different recipes will require different levels of baking powder so it is always best to follow the recipe exactly.
Self Raising Flour
Self raising flour is plain flour with baking powder already added to it. It is great to use when baking cakes and baked goods as it helps to give a nice consistent rise. Some people prefer to use it for baking rather than using plain and adding a raising agent as it is already done for you and in the perfect ratio. Both plain and self raising flours have low levels of protein which gives a light and fluffy bake (making them perfect for cakes and cupcakes!).
Bread flour is higher in protein than other types of flour, consisting of approximately 13% of gluten. When bread bakes the protein binds to the flour to trap carbon dioxide which is created when the yeast ferments and as a result gives a strong rise. The higher levels of protein found in bread flour make the bake dense and chewy which means you can’t substitute bread flour for plain flour without massively changing the texture of your bread.
Wholemeal flour uses the whole wheat kernel, nothing is lost in the making process. It is therefore brown in colour and slightly coarser when compared to other flours. Wholegrain flour is strong in flavour and is more nutritious than white flours. It is often used in conjunction with white flours as the coarser texture makes it heavier and as a result it doesn’t rise an awful lot when used on its own.
Gluten Free Flour
The protein found in wheat flours is otherwise known as gluten and all the above flours contain it. The gluten free flours we buy in the shops are made from non-wheat flours e.g. rice, potato, tapioca, maize and buckwheat. It is commonly used for people with celiac disease but lately more and more people are making an effort to reduce gluten in their diet. When making gluten free bakes it is worth using a specific recipe rather than just replacing normal flour with gluten free flour – it is possible but you will get much better results when sticking to the original recipe.