It may sound crazy to say that I am passionate about flour, but I am. Flour is very important! I have at least ten different types of flour on my shelf at any given time, including Gluten-Free flour. Flour varies in protein content, hardness and gluten content. I do not have enough space to go into every detail of every type of flour, so I am hitting the highlights! Wheat flour is what I use most often, so that's what I'll write about here.
Hard Wheat and Soft Wheat.
Hard wheat berries are either red or white. Most of the wheat in the US is red wheat, but one can easily find white wheat on the shelves of grocery stores. Both red and white wheat have the same nutrition, but the white wheat as a more mild taste. When I make whole wheat items, I choose based on the taste I am aiming on achieving. I often choose white wheat because of its mild flavor while retaining all the good qualities of whole red wheat. Hard wheats produce more gluten and are best for yeast-leavened baking. Durum wheat is the hardest of the hard wheats. It is a more primitive wheat and its protein has very different characteristics than red and white wheat. It doesn't create as much gluten that you find with white or red and is usually milled into semolina flour that is used for pasta (I always have semolina on my shelf!)
Soft wheats are plump and have a larger percentage of carbohydrates and less protein and thus, less gluten. They are best for cakes, biscuits and pastries. Soft white flour absorbs more than soft red flour, meaning that is has slightly more protein. Soft whites are usualy used for pasty flours while soft reds are used for cake flour, which is bleached.
My favorite flour comes from King Arthur Flour. So, I will talk about their wheat flours.
KA All- Purpose Flour is milled from hard red wheat and contains 11.7 percent protein (after milling) and contains a high protein level than other brands of all-purpose flours.
KA Pastry Flour is an unbleached grade of soft white New York state wheat with a protein level of about 9 percent.
KA Cake Flour is milled from soft red wheat and is about 8 percent protein and is bleached (all cake flours are bleached, it is what allows them to absorb more liquid and it wil support large amounts of sugar and fat). Cake flour is more acidic and this acidity ensures the starch gelatinizes and becomes set in the oven more quickly.
KA Bread Flour is milled from hard red spring wheat and has a higher protein level than AP flour. It contains 12.7 percent protein. It is designed for yeast baking and its protein is better developed by machine.
KA High-Gluten Flour is the highest protein flour. It contains 14.2 percent protein. This is the perfect flour to make chewy bagels or pizza dough.
KA Traditional Whole Wheat Flour is ground from the whole grain of hard red spring wheat with a protein level of 15 percent.
KA White Wheat Flour is also high in protein like the whole wheat red, but it doesn't have the tannins known as phenolic acid that make red wheat taste bitter. It is still whole wheat flour, contains the bran and the germ. This is my favorite! When you want the nutrition of whole wheat without the taste, grab white whole wheat!
KA French Style Flour is perfect for baguettes and French bread. It is a high ash, medium protein flour. I have special baguette pans for making perfect baguettes.
My FAVORITE Gluten-Free flour blend comes from Carol Fenster. It is a mix of sorghum flour, potato starch and tapioca flour. I substitute it in regular recipes all the time- even my favorite King Cake recipe turns out delicious with this blend. (1 1/2 cups sorghum, 1 1/2 cups potato starch, 1 cup tapioca flour)
Of course we cannot forget rye flour, corn flour, oats, Amaranth, Barley. buckwheat, Chickpea, Millet, Quinoa, Rice, Soy Teff or Triticale..... and the list goes one! I also do quite a bit of gluten-free baking, so you can see why I said there just wasn't enough room to discuss my passion for flours. There will be time and room on my blog, of course!