Getting to know the different types of flour

As all of us bakers would know, flour is essential in most recipes and can be milled from wheat, nuts, rice, legumes and some fruits and vegetables. Different types of flour suit different types of recipes and it is not advisable to switch from one type of flour to another if you want to savour the original taste. If you know the correct flour to use in baking, half the goal of achieving success in baking is reached.

All-purpose flour (Plain flour)

  • Blend of soft and hard wheat.
  • Comes in either bleached or unbleached flour
  • Bleached flour has less protein compared to unbleached flour
  • When mixed with liquids, the protein will turn into gluten making the dough tougher.

Bleached flour best for:

  1. Pie crust
  2. Cookies
  3. Pancakes
  4. Waffles

Unbleached flour best for:

  1. Bread
  2. Puff pastry
  3. Strudel
  4. Éclair
  5. Cream puffs


Almond flour

  • Made from grinding almond
  • Lower carbohydrate content compared to normal white flour
  • Almonds are able to increase HDL (Good cholesterol) and decrease LDL (Bad cholesterol). Almonds also have cancer prevention properties.
  • Rich nutty flavour
  • Used in pastries, tarts, pies and cakes. However, cookies that contain almond flour tend to brown more quickly so adjust the oven’s temperature down by 20 degrees.


Amaranth flour

  • Made from spinach-like plant puns in the Far East.
  • Protein rich but gluten free


Arrowroot flour

  • Gluten free
  • Made from ground roots
  • Flour has no taste so it is great as a thickener for stews
  • When flour is cooked, it turns clear as it distils in liquid


Barley flour

  • Lower gluten content compared to wheat flour(so never use barley flour for bread)
  • Nutty flavour
  • Great as a thickening agent for stews


Bread flour

  • Made from hard, high protein wheat
  • High in gluten and protein
  • Best choice for yeast products
  • When mixed with liquids, the protein turns into gluten which toughens the dough. This prevents the bread from collapsing when baked.


Brown rice flour

  • Gluten free
  • Made from milling unpolished rice that contains bean and germ
  • Contains more nutrients than white rice flour
  • Have a rough, grainy texture
  • Nutty aftertaste
  • Requires refrigeration to prevent flour from becoming rancid


Buckwheat flour

  • Gluten-free
  • No wheat content
  •  Flour has a nice nutty flavor but a slight bitter aftertaste
  •  Used to make bread and muffins


Cake flour

  • Fine-textured, soft wheat flour
  • High starch content, lowest protein content
  • For recipes that has a high sugar:flour ratio, cake flour would prevent the cake from collapsing
  • Great for creating volume in cakes, cookies or bread


Cake flour should not be substituted with self-raising flour which contains baking powder. This affects the recipe.

Substitute all the cake flour with all-purpose flour but subtract 2 tablespoons of flour for each cup used


Coconut flour

  • Flour high in fibre
  • Gluten-free and hypoallergenic


Substituting a QUARTER of the flour needed with coconut flour but add an equivalent amount of water as coconut flour absorbs a lot of water. If you want to replace ALL the flour with coconut flour, add an egg for every 40g of coconut flour.


Corn flour

  • Corn flour and corn starch are different.
  • Corn flour is made from the entire ken kernel
  • Corn starch is extracted from the endosperm of the kernel.
  • Corn flour comes in yellow or white

Yellow corn flour:

  1. Gluten free
  2. Used in cakes, cookies, pastries

White corn flour:

  1. Gluten free
  2. Used as a thickener


Flaxseed flour

  • Excellent low carbohydrate flour substitute
  • Many health benefits: good for cardiovascular health and a rich source of alphalinolenic acid and lignans that helps prevent breast and prostrate cancer.
  • Give baked goods a denser and chewier texture


Substitute a quarter of flour with flaxseed flour or ground flaxseeds but reduce the oven’s temperature slightly as baked goods will brown quickly. Also, add more liquids in to prevent the baked products from turning out dry.


Gluten flour

  • High in protein
  • Used mainly in diabetic bread or to give flour a stronger dough structure


Pastry flour

  • Made from soft wheat
  • Protein content similar to all-purpose flour or cake flour
  • High protein
  • Best for making cookies, brownies, flaky pastry puffsCan be replaced by all-purpose flour and cake flour in a 2:1 ratio


Potato flour

  • Potato flour is not the same thing as potato starch flour
  • Potato flour is made from cooked potatoes an is gluten free and can be used in bread only when mixed with wheat flour
  • Used as a thickener as it has a neutral flavour


Self-raising flour

  • Low protein flour with salt and a leavening agent(baking powder)
  • Best for quick bread and cookies


Semolina flour

  • Made from durum wheat( hardest type of wheat grown)
  • Flour has highest gluten content
  • Used for making pastas and Italian puddings


Spelt flour

  • Higher nutritional content and fats more soluble compared to wheat flour
  • Have a sweet, nutty flavor(similar to whole wheat flour)
  • Contains gluten
  • Usually used to substitute wheat flour


Teff flour

  • High in nutritional value such as iron, calcium, thiamin and protein
  • Very high in fibre and good for blood sugar control in diabetics


White Rice flour

  • Made from finely milled rice
  • Gluten free but rich in proteins
  • Used for making noodles, dumplings and cookies

If you want to make bread using rice flour, mix it with gluten rich wheat flour to prevent the bread from collapsing when baked.


Whole wheat flour

  • Made from whole kernel of wheat
  • High in dietary fibre
  • Lower gluten level compared to all-purpose flour
  • While wheat flour is the roughest flour as it is unrefined.
  • Flour is high in potassium, magnesium and selenium
  • As whole wheat flour naturally as high oil content, it is best to keep it refrigerated to prevent it from turning rancid.


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