Flour 101: Different Varieties Of Flour and Substituting Flours
Are you a baking aficionado? If so, you might know all things about the varieties of flour that are available on the market! If you aren’t you might need a little help in this department! Don’t worry I can help you to learn about the varieties of flour and how to substitute them in your recipes. You might be wondering when you come upon a stellar recipe if you can substitute all-purpose flour in replace of bread flour? Or do you genuinely need cake flour to have a successful moist cake? If you have ever pondered those thoughts, sit back grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive in and figure this whole thing out.
Popular Varieties of Flour
Varieties of Flour 1 – All-Purpose Flour
Let’s start with All-Purpose flour; it is one of the most used flours in recipes. Most often if a recipe doesn’t say a specific type of flour, it is most generally meaning grab all-purpose and get to creating! All-Purpose flour is made most often from hard red winter wheat and has a mid-level range of proteins that are more often recommended for baking purposes.
You can also buy bleached all-purpose flour, some pastry recipes call for this, as it has fewer proteins than all-purpose. When the flour gets bleached through the curing process, it becomes easier to work with, and that is why pastries are so delicate they need a more pliable flour. Now the bleaching process can hurt your stomach if you tend to have a sensitive stomach, and you might prefer unbleached all-purpose flour.
Varieties of Flour 2 – Self Rising Flour
Self-rising flour is used in pancakes, some cupcakes, bread, and even biscuit recipes. It is excellent for helping the dough rise as it bakes. Pretty much self-rising flour is almost the same as all- purpose flour but with a mix of baking soda and salt. If a recipe calls for self-rising just grab your all-purpose and make your own.
Recipe for Self Rising Flour
Mix a quarter of a teaspoon of fine salt, one and a half teaspoons baking soda and 1 cup of all-purpose flour. This will create your own self-rising flour. Make sure to do this mixture with each cup of flour the recipe calls for.
Varieties of Flour 3 – Cake Flour
Oh, the glorious cake flour swoops in to save the day. Cake flour is made specifically for, you guessed it, cakes! Cake flour has around 8% of protein whereas all-purpose has 10-11% protein. This gives your cake a less chewy texture and allows for that really light and moist cake that you dream of sinking your fork into.
Substitute for Cake Flour
Now if you don’t make cakes often and don’t want to buy it, you can substitute cake flour! Just measure out the amount of all-purpose flour needed for what the recipe calls for. Then scoop out two tablespoons of flour and replace it with cornstarch. You will get that same light and delicious cake at the end of your cook time without buying special flour! Thrifty win!
Varieties of Flour 4 – Bread Flour
Bread flour contains a lot higher protein content of around 13-16%. This gives the bread that nice chew that you want when you are making any bread. By kneading the flour it provides an even more dense structure that provides the bread with that rich crunch on the outside with the light and fluffy inside. Bread flour is also great for making pretzels, bagels, and more. By the way, if you’re looking for super easy recipes to make your own bread, I have a Slow Cooker Bread recipe and a No Knead Country Crusty Bread recipe as well! Both are super tasting like grandma used to make!
Substitute For Bread Flour
Luckily if you don’t want to invest in a whole bag of bread flour, you can up the gluten content in the flour with vital wheat gluten in all-purpose flour and get the same outcome. Add two tablespoons of vital wheat gluten to the recipe.
Varieties of Flour 5 – Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour is more absorbent than other flours. You will need to use a lot more liquid to reach the desired consistency for what you are making. Whole wheat flour is made by grinding the entire kernels of wheat. In that, you get a lot more fiber content, and nutrients and higher gluten content. A lot of times recipes will call for part all-purpose flour and part whole wheat, to give you a more mellow flavor. Wheat flour all by itself can be a little overpowering. It does take time to master cooking for some novice cooks. There isn’t a substitute for whole wheat flour as you are making the recipe to get that whole wheat taste.
Varieties of Flour 6 – Gluten Free Flour
Gluten free flour is a flour with, obviously, no gluten. Gluten is a protien that naturally occurs in the flour and it’s what gives the bread or whatever you’re baking, the ability to rise and hold it’s structure. Unfortunately, a lot of people are gluten sensitive, so gluten free all purpose flour is available for baking. However, because of the lack of gluten, you have often have to add something else into the flour (like xanthan gum) to help create the structure for your end product.
Substitute for Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
Alternatively, you can use other gluten free flours such as coconut or almond flours, tapioca, chickpea or rice flours can be used. You’ll have to research into each flour and it’s baking characteristics, as baking with coconut flour versus almond flour is very different.
Varieties of Flour 7 – Almond Flour for Low Carb and a Keto-Diet
Almond flour is considered to be like the all-purpose flour to the keto diet. While there are a handful of flours you can use while on the keto diet, almond flour is most generally recommended. Sadly though switching a recipe from coconut flour to almond flour can be a little tricky. While one flour might require more liquids than the other, it takes time to learn how to incorporate it into the recipe correctly. This can result in trial and error when you go to replacing different varieties of ket0-friendly flours.
There is no set ratio for swapping flours for the fact that even each brand of almond flour can be slightly different. You might use less oil and liquid to reach the proper consistency or use an extra egg for when you make muffins or even quick bread. I recommend following the recipe exactly for the best success.
I hope the break down of the different varieties of flour help you to get a good feel for why a flour is chosen for a recipe and how to substitute a different kind if possible!