Wheat flour: an abundance of options

August 22, 2012

One of the great things about living in the U.S. is that we have a wide variety of great food products available to us at any grocery store.

I love the options, but with some products, it can bring a little bit of confusion.  A prime example for bakers like me is the different types of wheat flour on the shelf. Which flour do I use for which recipe?

First, there are six different types/classes of wheat and all have different purposes.  (What is Wheat?) Hard red and hard white wheat is best for yeast breads.  Soft wheat is best used in cakes, pastries and other baked goods, as well as crackers and cereal.  Durum wheat is the hardest of all wheat and makes the best pasta. The most widely used flour is “all-purpose flour.” It comes from the finely ground part of the wheat kernel called the endosperm.  It is made from a combination of hard and soft wheat, hence the term all-purpose.  This flour can be used for a wide range of baked goods including yeast breads, cakes, cookies and pastries. Importantly, all-purpose flour is “enriched” with iron and B-vitamins (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid).  Enriching with folic acid has dramatically reduced the number of birth defects in the United States. 

Some information provided by Wheat Food Council – www.wheatfoods.org

by Aaron Harries