sYou probably came around at least a thousand recipes, many of them specifying the type of wheat flour used and others lacking that same details. Have you ever wonder why there are different types of flour, their differences and uses? Angel’s Food Cake uses cake flour only instead of bread flour. The reason is obvious, protein content.
Flour is the most famous components in many sweet and savory dishes. Although the most popular is the wheat type, you can find rice, cassava, maize, rye, almond, coconut and many others if the wheat does not fit your objectives.
It is important to talk about the wheat flour because it is the one which is readily available for everyone. The main difference between all the types of wheat flour, in specific, is the protein content, which implies formation of gluten or not. Gluten, as many of us have heard about, is a mixture of several proteins found in wheat and many other grains. When certain flours are worked on, they will form gluten. Bread contains gluten because it makes the dough elastic and allows it to grow, instead of being crumbly in texture like a cake. In addition to that, it has been proven that gluten causes damage to the small intestine to people who have celiac disease.
Knowing the properties of the flour being used helps with enhancing the baked goods that will be made, and can affect your health status. Before introducing a pastry or cake recipe, I would like us to explore a bit more on the common types of wheat flours used. (This is an affiliate post. I will have a small commission through any purchase made.)
Types of Wheat Flour
All Purpose Flour
Many of the recipes found online and in books use all purpose flour. It is ALL purpose because it is between a cake and a bread flour protein percentage (10 – 12 %). You can use it to make cakes and bread, although the texture might come out different than if you were using the proper flour.
This flour has the highest percentage of protein (13-16 %), ideal for leavened bread. Working the dough helps create gluten. Working on the dough will create gluten. This ultimately leaves the dough more elastic, as mentioned above. Add wheat gluten to all purpose flour in order to increase the protein value.
Recipes such as Angel’s Food and chiffon cakes required a less protein content flour (6-8%), Cake Flour. This type of flour, usually chlorinated, gives the cake a lighter dough, fine texture and mild taste of flour. Sift the flour before adding to the dough as it may form lumps. Use the following formula to make a cake flour substitute:
S = F – C + M
where S – Substitute, F – 1 cup of AP flour, C – 2 tablespoon of AP flour, M – 2 tablespoon of cornstarch
For each cup of AP flour, remove 2 tablespoons of it, and replace it with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift the flour right afterwards. How did you find the formula? Piece of cake, right?
The flour has a low protein content of 8.5 – 9.5 %, and typically used in cookies, pastries and muffins. This low content makes the baked goods fluffy, and of light texture, similar to the cake flour.
Like the name suggests, this wheat flour contains a leavening agent, baking soda, and salt added to it. This type of flour is used to produce lighter and softer baked products (muffins, biscuits, scones, etc) by embedding small gas bubbles. You can make self-rising flour at home using AP flour, although the texture would be coarser.
- 1 cup (125 g) AP flour
- 1 teaspoon (3 g) baking powder
- a pinch to ½ teaspoon (1 g or less) salt
This recipe for self-rising flour was found on Wikipedia, but there are several ones available online. I chose this one because it displays quantities in both cups and grams, the latter being the more accurate measurement.
Out of all the wheat flours, whole wheat is probably the best due to its rich nutty flavor. It is high in nutritional value for its high content of vitamins, fiber, protein and minerals. The tricky part in using whole-wheat flour is it does not allow the dough to rise much unless hydrated, given time to rise and kneaded properly. The result will definitely please both in flavor and texture. For more information on this, visit the Kitchn.
Small introduction into the different types of wheat for better baked goods. Research about the flour you will be using prior to making any baked goods as it affects their density and texture. Take into account your health so as to avoid any adverse effects from eating certain flours. If you have a problem related to gluten, then use a gluten free type of flour. Remember, your health comes first.
Until next time, my Hungry people.