Types of Flour: {Baking Reference}

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Flour is a big part of our day-to-day lives, but did you know there are many different types available made from a variety of sources such as wheat, seeds, corn, rice, coconuts, potatoes, etc.? Some are wheaten and gluten free while others are higher in fiber and starch…each offering its own unique results. Here’s a handy reference sheet outlining several different varieties…

Grains & Flour For Bread Making

Grains & Flour For Bread Making

  • All-Purpose: A general, common use white flour used in most baking and craft recipes, also known as “Plain Flour”. Made with a blend of high-gluten and low-gluten wheats and can be purchased bleached or unbleached.
  • Almond: This flour is made from ground almonds and has the consistency of cornmeal. It’s recommended to use blanched almond flour for baking (not unblanched) and is a good alternative for low-carb and gluten-free diets.
  • Bread: An unbleached, high-protein white flour. Breads/dough made with bread flour produce a high volume and chewy texture (benefits from the high gluten content). You can substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour but expect some difference in the results (you can get close though by adding a tablespoon of wheat gluten with the all-purpose flour). Bread flour should not be substituted for all-purpose flour.
  • Buckwheat: This is made from ground buckwheat (hulled) and is gluten-free. Buckwheat is a seed, not a grain. Commonly used in multi-grain breads and pancakes.
  • Cake: This is a finely milled, bleached flour that is lighter than all-purpose flour. High in starch and lower in gluten than other wheat flours. A good choice for baking light cakes and pastries. A substitute recipe for cake flour: Add two level tablespoons of corn starch to a one cup measuring cup, then fill with bread flour. Sift three times then use as needed (source: Handy Substitute Recipes For Baking).
  • Coconut: A high fiber, gluten-free, low-carb flour made from ground coconut meat. Unless a recipe calls for coconut flour (where you’ll have good results in a variety of baked goods like muffins and cakes), you can use it in baking with regular recipes by substituting up to 25% of wheat flour with coconut flour.
  • Corn: This is a non-wheat flour made from ground yellow corn and is gluten free. Can also be made from wheat but will be named “wheaten corn flour”. A substitute for corn flour is corn meal first ground fine (to the consistency of flour) in a blender or food processor. A heavier, coarser type of corn flour is Maize Flour.
  • Graham: A coarse wheat flour that is made by grinding the bran, germ, and endosperm separately before being combined together again. This is sweet and nutty to the taste. Can be substituted with whole wheat flour at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Mesquite: A fine, soft flour made from ground mesquite pods (dried) and can have a sweet, mesquite flavor. Can be used as a thickener (for sauces, puddings, etc.) and can replace up to 25% of wheat flour in baking recipes. Gluten-free.
  • Oat: Is made from ground oats (hulled), contains little gluten and is a good thickener and binder. Can be used in baking breads and cookies, replace up to 25% of wheat flour and increase the leavening agent a bit.
  • Pastry: Has a low-gluten, high-starch content, and is a fine white flour that is used in baking delicate pastries, pie crusts, biscuits and cookies. A good substitute for Pastry Flour is a 50/50 mix of Cake Flour and All-Purpose Flour.
  • Potato: Made from ground, cooked (and dried) potatoes. This is a gluten-free, high-starch flour which can be used as a thickener for gravies and sauces and can also be used in baking (replace up to 25% of wheat flour). This does have a pronounced potato flavor.
  • Rice: A fine flour made from grinding rice (white). This flour is gluten-free and can be used in baking, homemade noodles and popular in pancakes. Brown Rice Flour is made from brown rice and is heavier and coarser than White Rice Flour and is also higher in protein and fiber. You can replace up to 25% of Brown Rice Flour with wheat flour in baking.
  • Self Rising: This is all-purpose flour with salt and leavening added and is good for making flaky biscuits, pancakes, waffles and light pastries. A good substitute for self rising flour is: In a one cup measure, place 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt, then fill to top with flour. Mix well. Source: Handy Substitute Recipes For Baking.
  • Semolina: A high-gluten flour made with ground hard durum wheat. Good for making homemade pasta and breads. A substitute you can use is Durum Wheat Flour (1:1 ratio).
  • Soy: Made from finely ground soy beans (hulled). This flour is rich in protein, gluten-free and has a slight nutty flavor. Non-yeast baked goods can have up to 30% of wheat flour replaced by Soy Flour, yeast items can have up to 15%. Refrigerate Soy Flour to keep fresh (defatted soy flour is fine stored at room temperature).
  • Spelt: This flour has a nuttier flavor than whole wheat flour. Contains gluten but can be easier to digest by many who are allergic to wheat flours. Can be used to substitute wheat flour in baking (breads, cakes, muffins, etc.) but you may find it doesn’t need as much liquid (spelt flour is more soluble) or as much kneading (the gluten is more fragile).
  • Tapioca: Is made from cassava root (the plant source of tapioca). Can also be known as Tapioca Starch. This is a grain-free white flour that is starchy, a bit sweet, and gluten-free. Good thickener (for sauces, pie fillings, etc.) and can be used in baking.
  • Whole Wheat: Is made by grinding whole grains of wheat (includes the wheat’s bran, germ, and endosperm). The wheat germ content can make the flour go rancid more quickly than other flours, in Canada some of the wheat germ is removed to help prolong the shelf life. Can replace up to 50% of all-purpose flour in baking. Whole Wheat Flour is available in both brown and white.

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Published: January 28, 2010

What Readers Are Saying:
One Comment to “Types of Flour: {Baking Reference}”
  1. Carol says:

    How you convert Wheat recipes to use Spelt flour? When I used Spelt flour it flowed over the pan, that tells me I didn’t need to use as much Spelt flour. So, how do I convert any Wheat recipe for Spelt flour?


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