Baked goods add a lot of palatability to the idea of food. It is a delightful feeling to eat a baked good, one can never do wrong with baking. However, baking can turn into a total disaster if the appropriate ingredients are not used, and also when they are not used accordingly with the recipe.
Flour is one of the most important ingredients used in baking. There are specific flours that are designated to specific baked goods. Knowledge of the appropriate flour to use while baking will ensure that one doesn’t end up baking a total disaster.
The difference between each type of flour is the protein content. The protein content will determine the gluten content. Gluten content increases the strength of the baked good. The amount of gluten determines the structure and texture of baked goods. There are several flour types that can be used to bake different baked goods, they include;
- All-Purpose Flour
This flour type is a mixture of soft wheat and hard wheat. Soft wheat has a protein content of 5-10% while hard wheat has a protein content of 10-14%. The mixture of the two wheat types brings the protein content of all-purpose flour to 10-12%. All-purpose flour can be used to produce flaky pie crust, chewy cookies and fluffy pancakes. It can be used to bake; bread, pie crust, cookies, biscuit, pasta, muffins and pizza dough.
- Cake Flour
The protein content of cake flour is the lowest amongst other flours. Cake flour has a protein content of 5-8%. The low gluten content leads to production of softer baked goods. Cake flour also absorbs more sugar and liquid than all-purpose flours. This makes the cake to be super moist. It can be used to bake; sponge cakes, pound cakes, muffins and biscuit.
- Bread Flour
Bread flour is the strongest of all flours because it is made up entirely of hard wheat. It has a high protein content of 12-14%. The high gluten content is important when baking yeasted breads because it helps the bread rise properly. Bread flour produces a baked good with better volume and chewier crumb. It can be used to bake; yeast breads, artisan breads, bagels, pretzels and pizza dough.
- Pastry Flour
Pastry flour has a protein content of 8-9% which makes it appropriate if you want to get a flaky and tender baked good. It is the best choice for pie crusts and cookies. You can also generate your own pastry flour by mixing 1⅓ cup of all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup of cake flour. It can be used to bake pie crusts, cookies, muffins, pancakes, biscuit and bread sticks.
- Whole Wheat Flour
When making whole wheat flour, not all the germ and bran are removed. Few quantities of the germ and bran are added with the endosperm and milled to produce whole wheat flour. Although the protein content of whole wheat flour is about 13-14%, the germ and bran affects the gluten forming ability. Whole wheat flours usually leads to very sticky dough and baked goods which are very dense. Also, the presence of the germ in whole wheat flour makes the shelf life very short. Whole wheat flour cannot last more than 3 months, after this time they get spoiled. It can be used to bake; bread, cookies, pancakes, pasta and pizza dough.
- Self-Raising Flour
What makes self-raising flour unique is the addition of baking powder and salt during milling. It is made entirely from soft wheat, with about 8-9% protein content. You can make your own self-raising flour by mixing 1 cup of pastry flour with 1½ teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt. It can be used to bake; pancakes, scones and biscuits.
- Gluten-Free Flour
Gluten-free flour can be made from any ingredient base. The ingredient base could be rice, potato, corn, quinoa, sorghum or tapioca. It may not be possible to substitute for white flour in a ratio of 1:1, so be sure to check your recipe before swapping the two flours. Xanthan gum can sometimes be added to gluten-free flour to stimulate the chewiness associated with gluten. It can be used to bake cake; pancakes, cookies, bread and muffins.
Now that you have better knowledge of flour types, try swapping the commonly used all-purpose flour for another flour type to add a variety of texture and flavour to your baked goods.